Back in his days as a wideout for Tulane, Ryan Grant looked up to Colts star Reggie Wayne.
He particularly admired the veteran's crisp route running, strong hands and consistent production.
One of the benefits of signing as a free agent with Indianapolis this spring was a chance to learn some of the secrets of that success first hand.
Wayne has served as a volunteer wide receivers coach for the Colts throughout the offseason and into training camp. And Grant is among his most eager pupils.
“It’s amazing,” Grant said Tuesday after practice at Grand Park Sports Campus. “He gives his point of view on the offense, the routes, the concepts. Whenever we have questions, he will tell us what he would do in the situation. It’s just something that we file in our memory bank moving forward to create separation and run better routes.”
There's one part of Wayne's game Grant hopes can translate to his own career.
“Looking back at it, I believe Reggie Wayne was a pretty consistent wide receiver throughout his entire career,” Grant said. “I would like my career to implement the same things.”
He's off to a good start in Indy.
Grant isn't the fastest wide receiver on the roster. He's not the tallest or the strongest, either.
But he just might be the most consistent.
His highlights might not pop off the practice film, but the coaches can't help but notice.
The beauty is in the details. A well-run route. A timely block. Any directive handed to him by the coaching staff, really, seems to be well-executed.
Time and time again.
“Ryan has done what we ask guys to do on a consistent basis, and that’s just improve every single day and fight to improve every single day,” offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said. “We just see that in Ryan. Even if the ball is not going to Ryan and maybe not everybody sees that ... We see it on every single play.”
It's been enough for head coach Frank Reich to mention Grant's name alongside four-time Pro Bowler T.Y. Hilton as the players who have separated themselves from the logjam at a young and hungry wide receiver position over the first two weeks of training camp.
That doesn't mean Grant has been perfect. From from it, in fact.
He's still working on his timing and chemistry with quarterback Andrew Luck, and there are a dozen little things he'd like to continue to get better at.
The key in his mind is not making the same mistake twice.
As long as the coaches don't have to repeat the same things to him over and over again, he feels like he is making the kind of progress necessary to improve at this time of year.
After four years with the Redskins — and one controversial failed physical that cost him a big contract with the Ravens — Grant continues to settle into his new home.
“It’s been a transition period for me, just coming into a new organization, new city, new state,” he said. “It can be challenging at times, but I come in every day with a clear mind and optimistic about being the best that I can be. I’ve taken a step forward each day to better myself as well as the group that I’m gonna run with.”
When the coaches look at Grant, they see a rising 27-year-old who can become an even better player than the one they targeted in free agency.
Grant alluded to as much in the spring, when he said Luck played a major role in his decision to come to Indianapolis. He repeated Tuesday that he's never played with a quarterback quite like Luck, and he enjoys the ongoing communication that helps make their partnership better.
On Thursday, he'll take the field for the first time with his new team and his new quarterback.
And the soft-spoken confidence he displays on and off the field likely will overwhelm any nerves.
“I mean, I’m considered a veteran now,” Grant said. “So I know what to expect. I know what’s expected of me. So I would just plan on going out there and handling my business in a professional manner and just doing me.”