INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is used to players getting injured and having to miss significant time during a season. It hurts but, unfortunately, it is just part of the game.
But Reggie Wayne's season-ending knee injury hits a little closer to home for Pagano for purely personal reasons.
Wayne and Pagano have become close, from the college level at the University of Miami to the NFL with Indianapolis. They are also good friends off the field.
When the 34-year old wide receiver went down with an apparent sprained right knee in the latter stages of Sunday night's game with Denver, most observers knew Wayne's immediate future didn't look good.
The news got much worse on Monday when Pagano revealed the 13-year veteran is out for the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. There are reports that Wayne incurred a torn meniscus as well.
"We hate to lose anybody, but this one stings," Pagano said. "You just don't replace guys like (No.) 87. And again we hate to lose anybody. But he'll be back.
"I know how he's wired. And I know what his DNA is, know how he is as a man. Everybody's going to say, 'No way (to a return to a team next season).' But after the conversation I had with him, just wait and see. So we'll put on the gloves for Reggie and we'll help him get through this. We'll get him back."
After he undergoes surgery, Wayne will still remain a valuable member of the Colts organization this season.
"He's going to have to have something done, surgically, but what I told him is that whether it's on a stretcher, a wheel chair, we have to carry him in and out, he'll be there (with the team) every step of the way," Pagano said.
"He's a pro through and through. I told those young (receivers) to get in his hip pocket and follow him. Do exactly what he does on a daily basis. Do you stick around (in the NFL) for a long time? Want to be productive? You want to write your own legacy? You want to be a guy in the NFL and not an also-ran? Then just do exactly what Reggie does. From a leadership standpoint, mentoring standpoint, it's off the charts."
While talking about Wayne's injury, the second-year head coach became emotional.
"We've known each other for a long, long time. The way he is, the first thing out of his mouth is that he feels as if he let his teammates down because he can't be there now," Pagano said.
"That's how unselfish this guy is. He could give a hoot about the numbers, all that stuff. He just wants to play and help us win a championship. That's what he's dealing with right now. I don't feel any worse than the rest of them guys in the locker room and from the owner on down about what happened to him. It's a travesty."
Despite the injury, the Colts coach has no doubts that Wayne will return to the team next season ready to resume his career.
"Just look in a man's eye. And when he tells you he's going to do something. I've known him for a long time, watched him work over the years. When he says 'I'll be back,' I trust he'll be back," Pagano said.
Wrote Colts owner Jim Irsay on Twitter: "Had a long cry with Reggie....now he's gonna do what Reggie does...out work everybody and fight n work his way back!"
--WR Reggie Wayne (knee) is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL and a torn meniscus in his right knee. He was hurt in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's win over Denver.
--C Samson Satele (knee) left the Broncos game twice. He passed an MRI test after the game and is considered as day-to-day.
--CB Darius Butler (calf) left the Denver game twice and then returned to finish the game. Butler is expected to be day-to-day.
--S Delano Howell (neck) was hurt against the Broncos. There has been no update on his injury but he is expected to be available for the Colts' next game.
--CB Greg Toler (groin) was hurt against Denver. His MRI results have not been announced. Toler's status is day-to-day.
--CB Josh Gordy (groin) was injured against the Broncos. His MRI results are not yet known. Gordy's status is day-to-day.
--OLB Cam Johnson (ankle) left the Denver game and did not return. The injury is not considered to be serious. His availability for the Colts' next game has yet to be determined.
--ILB Mario Harvey (hamstring) left the Broncos game and did not return. His MRI results have not yet known.