He’s still working on his swag, and the playbook, but veteran receiver Reggie Wayne is getting his game up to speed with the season opener fast approaching.
“It’s starting to slow down a little bit,’’ Wayne said after the Patriots’ 12-9 loss to the Giants in the final preseason game at Gillette Stadium. “Still a lot to learn from. Still a lot I’ve got to get accomplished. I’m still behind the 8-ball, so I’m still trying to find my swag. It’s starting to slow down a little bit, and I’m starting to catch on pretty decent.’’
Like every other player available in the locker room Thursday night, Wayne was asked how he felt about the news that quarterback Tom Brady was victorious in federal court over NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, making No. 12 available for Week 1. And like every other Patriot who spoke postgame, he did his best to deflect all deflategate-related questions.
“Yeah. That’s my quarterback. So yeah, I am [happy],’’ Wayne said. “All that I can say is that I’m happy that he’s available and I have to do my job of being available.’’
When pressed on the hot topic of Brady’s vacatated suspension, Wayne reiterated that his primary focus has been on learning the playbook.
“I have enough on my plate,’’ the sure-handed receiver said. “I’m excited he’s available, but Reggie has to take care of what Reggie has to take care of. That’s getting my playbook corrected on all the mistakes I had tonight and get better. I’ve only been here a week and a half or so, so like I said, I’m behind the 8-ball. I’m excited he’s available, I have to do my job though.’’
It wasn’t the All-Pro stat line we’ve grown accustomed to over the past 14 years as a few balls thown to him were uncatchable, but Wayne finished the final tuneup with 2 catches for 24 yards on 10 targets. The highlight reception was an 18-yard over-the-shoulder sideline grab on a ball thrown by third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley late in the first quarter. Lindley played the entire game, throwing for 253 yards while Wayne did not play in the second half.
The 36-year-old Wayne has logged a lot of miles over his NFL career, including playing in 21 postseason games to go along with a Super Bowl ring, and knows what it takes to get ready for the regular season as he enters his 15th year in the league.
“It’s not my first rodeo,’’ the six-time Pro Bowler said. “I’ve been down this road before. I played in last week’s game. I played a half. I know what I have to do. I know I have to take care of my body. As far as out there it will take care of itself, everything else is just mental and knowing what to do and when to do it.’’
His first chance to show what he can do comes in front of a potential record-setting national TV audience when Super Bowl banner No. 4 gets unveiled at Gillette Thursday night.
In the meantime, Wayne will keep working to get ready.
“I don’t have a choice,’’ Wayne said. “The week is going to be here regardless if I’m ready or not. There’s a lot of stuff I can learn from tonight, it’s still a week where I can continue to prepare and get ready.’’
Here’s how Patriots fans celebrated Tom Brady’s overturned suspension: