Former Pitt star Revis is one of the best
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts receiver Reggie Wayne is ready to take another trip to Revis Island.
He is preparing for man-to-man coverage, strong-armed tactics and turbulent conditions with the hope of earning an all-expenses paid trip to Miami.
No, this is not just another job for this Colts star and the New York Jets cornerback. It's an adventure.
"One thing about [Darrelle] Revis is he's going to challenge you," Wayne said. "He's going to make you play your best. I accept that challenge. I feel like he's one of the best. He's going to make me play at my best, so it's going to be exciting."
Wayne, a four-time Pro Bowler, has plenty to prove tomorrow in the marquee matchup at the AFC championship game.
Revis, a standout at Pitt and runner-up for NFL defensive player of the year, has not only survived matchups against some of the league's top receivers this season, he has thrived.
His personal check list looks like this:
• Houston's Andre Johnson, four catches, 35 yards.
• New England's Randy Moss, eight catches, 48 yards in two games.
• Buffalo's Terrell Owens, six catches, 26 yards in two games.
• Carolina's Steve Smith, one catch, 5 yards.
• Cincinnati's Chad Ochocinco, two catches, 28 yards in two games.
• And in an abbreviated first round against Wayne, three receptions, 33 yards.
Revis has allowed only one touchdown all season, yet Wayne may have come the closest to breaking out against him, barely missing a long catch in December's game when Peyton Manning overthrew him by a step on a deep slant-and-go route.
Wayne also played less time than the others, departing with the other Colts starters with about six minutes to go in the third quarter of Indianapolis' 29-15 loss.
Round 2 could be different.
Indianapolis receiver Pierre Garcon is expected to play after missing the first game with a bruised hand, and last week Indianapolis (15-2) figured out a way to keep tight end Dallas Clark more involved in the offense against Baltimore's similar 3-4 defense. The Jets (11-7) can't simply ignore the threat of Indianapolis' ground game, either, after Joseph Addai burned them for an early 21-yard touchdown run in the first meeting.
As usual, though, the confident third-year cornerback promises his game live up to the hype.
"All this Revis Island stuff is fun," he said. "You enjoy it, but the bigger goal is just being consistent and playing and going out there and trying to cover these guys the best way I can."
What makes Revis so difficult for receivers?
Colts coach Jim Caldwell believes it's Revis' uncanny ability to locate the ball before receivers do. That gives Revis, who doesn't give up many steps, a chance to play the ball first without drawing penalties or yielding big plays.
Wayne contends Revis spends more time than others studying.
"He understands the game, he understands routes, he understands combinations," Wayne said. "It's nothing out of the ordinary. It's just he's a student of the game and understands what's going on and what's coming at him."
The other possibility: He's just a natural cornerback.
Long before New York mayor Michael Bloomberg renamed Manhattan in Revis' honor and Jets coach Rex Ryan dubbed him "the best cornerback I've ever been around," Colts linebacker Clint Session saw Revis emerge as a star at Pitt. It didn't take Session long to realize his college teammate was going to be a special player.
"I've admired the guy since I first laid eyes on him," Session said. "He's confident. He's always quick to tell you who's good and who's not, and that's why I think he just kind of jumped out at you right away."
But Revis' challenge this week has more to do with Peyton Manning than Wayne, Garcon or Austin Collie.
The Colts' franchise quarterback has a knack for finding defensive weaknesses and exploiting defensive backs who are matched one-on-one with his receivers, as Revis usually is.
It's never easy, not even for a player as talented as Revis.
"Reggie Wayne is a good wide receiver, but it starts with Peyton Manning," Revis said. "He throws the ball where defenders can't reach or find it. I think what makes his guys better is him putting the ball in places that defenders can't find it."
Wayne sees it a different way.
It's his job to catch passes and make plays and issue the challenges on Revis Island.
"It was an adventure on, I guess. It was fun," Wayne said of his most recent matchup with Revis in December. "Now, we've got a whole game to play each other. May the best man win."
First Published January 23, 2010 12:00 am