Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/20/14
Every great quarterback needs a great receiver to rely on during their early development. Joe Montana and Steve Young had Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman had Michael Irving and Peyton Manning had Marvin Harrison. And those are just a few of the most extreme cases throughout NFL history. Now, the onus of that argument turns to Indianapolis, where the development of Andrew Luck takes center stage as the next great signal-caller. But before his impressive rookie season even got underway, questions ran wild about who Luck would be throwing to. Reggie Wayne has more than answered those questions this season, as the soon to be 34-year-old receiver — his birthday is Saturday, Nov. 14 — has reemerged into one of the NFL’s premier wide receivers. Coming off a down season, where he gained less than 1,000 yards for the first time in eight seasons, and heading into his 12th NFL season, Wayne was viewed as past his prime and on the downward slope of his career. With a depressing 2-14 season in the books, Manning heading out the door and a complete rebuilding effort seemingly on the horizon, Wayne’s time with in Indy was thought to be over. But the lifelong Colt made a commitment to the franchise, and while other teams, including the Patriots, pined for his services, he stayed loyal to the only team he’s ever known. And the bold decision has paid off for both team and player. “He always wanted to be here and as soon as Chuck [Pagano] made that call, it was just a matter of, ‘Yeah I’m coming,’” interim head coach Bruce Arians said on a conference call Wednesday. “He’s a legend here and he’s going to go into the Hall of Fame.” Wayne has undergone a complete transformation from a season ago, nearly eclipsing his final statistical totals of a season ago, with 75 catches for 960 yards and four touchdowns, in nine games as he’s racked up 69 grabs, 931 yards and three scores already this season. And even more than just the statistical figures, Wayne’s impact can be seen in the young quarterback throwing him the ball. Even from some of his earliest days at Stanford, Andrew Luck has widely been viewed as an eventual Hall of Fame quarterback. His raw talents as a passer, tireless work ethic and unexpected yet incredible athleticism made him into one of the most sought after prospects in years. But without a reliable receiver to throw to, Luck very well could’ve seen his development stunted and his talents wasting away as if they belonged in Margaritaville. Luckily, and no pun intended here, the rookie quarterback had a knowledgeable and crafty veteran to assist with the transition. And Luck openly recognizes how important Wayne has been in that process. “He’s been great. He doesn’t talk much; he’s not going to sit down and lecture the young guys, but the way he works, the way he prepares during the week, the way he takes care of his body, the way he mentally prepares, is a great example for us all in the locker room,” Luck said of his No. 1 receiver. “To boot, he’s a great football player, so it’s fun getting able to throw to him.” Luck’s continued improvement behind center and increased presence as a leader of the team has been impressive in and of itself. But without a receiver who is leading the league in receptions and second in yards playing on the outside, Luck and the Colts would never be having the sort of success they’ve found this season. “All of the other rookies have followed the pied piper, and that’s Reggie Wayne. He sets the tempo for us offensively and then Andrew is the second guy in line,” Arians said of Wayne’s importance. “You can’t put a quantified value on how much his leadership means to our team.” With how important Wayne’s been to Indianapolis’ success this season, one thing is for sure. The Colts are damn happy that he’ll be lining up for them on Sunday at Gillette Stadium instead of the home team — an idea that was more than just floated around during free agency. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here. Photo via Facebook/Colts
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ray Rice wins appeal, can sign with any team

Athletics deal Josh Donaldson to Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie

Ohio governor decrees playoff committee honorary Ohioans

Lance Stephenson becoming a problem with the Hornets?

Tony Romo: I promise I'll be better next week

Seahawks could wait to address Russell Wilson's contract

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: SMU football to hire Clemson offensive coordinator

Dez Bryant: Eagles were ‘kinda cheap’

Hockey goalie rushes into stands to perform CPR on fan

49ers CEO Jed York apologizes for unacceptable performance

Family searching for missing Ohio State football player

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE, says he'll never return

Mavs' Aminu knocks padding off backboard with dunk

What if the Chargers refused to trade Eli Manning?

Why is there a red seat hanging in the Mall of America?

WATCH: Mickey Rourke TKO’d a man half his age in Moscow

What's next for the 49ers?

The most tone-deaf tweet ever?

Five bold predictions for Week 13 in the NFL

Brady Quinn pens 'note' to Jets quarterback Geno Smith

Bills center Eric Wood gained 7.4 pounds at Thanksgiving

Cubs reliever somehow OK after being involved in awful accident

Seahawks players throw shade at 49ers after victory

Five takeaways from NFL's Thanksgiving Day action

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

What if the Chargers didn't trade Eli?

Dez Bryant: Eagles were ‘kinda cheap’

Ray Rice wins appeal, can sign with any team

What's next for the 49ers?

The most tone-deaf tweet ever?

Is Lance a problem for the Hornets?

5 NFL takeaways from Thanksgiving

WATCH: Ronda Rousey talks Eminem

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE

Wrigley renovation may be delayed

Steelers could have been America's Team

John Beilein upset with ESPN

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.