The Indianapolis Colts star wide receiver is trending in the right direction with his recent calf injury, but there are no guarantees yet that T.Y. Hilton will be ready to play against the New Orleans Saints for Monday Night Football.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said Saturday that Hilton had limited work in practice this week and will be a game-time decision against the Saints (10-3) on Monday night, opening the window for him to return to the field for the first time since his team’s loss to the Houston Texans on Nov. 21, per The Athletic’s Stephen Holder. Reich also said the team wanted him to be “100 percent” and to “make sure he feels right and that we make sure he’s good.”
“I’m not saying it’s out of the question at all,” Reich said via Holder. “We have an extra day and maybe he can get there.”
Hilton has played in just seven games this season after also missing time earlier this season with a quad injury, but he has averaged 10.8 yards on 35 catches during his limited availability and would be a welcomed addition to a Colts team clinging to the last of its playoff hopes.
“I felt fine, did what I could do (in practice this week,” Hilton said Saturday afternoon via The Herald Bulletin’s George Bremer. “I feel fine, feel good. So it’s just up to the coaches and the doctors now.”
Follow the Heavy on NFL Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Battered Colts Receiving Corps Could Use a Boost
Hilton’s prolonged absence hasn’t been the only problem for the Colts receiving corps this season with wideouts Devin Funchess, Parris Campbell, Chester Rogers, Daurice Fountain and Steve Ishamael all on the injured reserve list. The Colts are also down one of their two versatile tight ends after Eric Ebron also went on IR in a move that raised several eyebrows and was deemed a business decision.
Luckily, Zach Pascal has stepped up his game as of late and provided quarterback Jacoby Brissett with a reliable option in the passing game. The third-year wideout has caught 12 of his 19 targets for 183 yards over his past two games for the Colts with only one of those catches not going for either a first down (10) or touchdown (1). Starting tight end Jack Doyle, who just recently signed a contract extension with the Colts, has also lent a hand with a team-high 38 receptions on the year.
Considering the Colts’ season is dangling by a thread, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if they decided to sit Hilton against the playoff-bound Saints and avoid jeopardizing their star’s long-term health. But if Hilton does play, Reich said he won’t be limited in any capacity as he was during his last attempted return.
“If he plays, he’s 100 percent,” Reich said via Bremer. “In my mind, if he’s playing, there won’t be a pitch count.”
Colts’ Playoff Destiny Beyond Their Control
Right now, if the Colts (6-7) run the table against the Saints, Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars, they have just a 19 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to current Playoff Status projections. That makes for some strange rooting interest for Colts fans this week.
Beyond winning themselves, the best-case scenario for the Colts in Week 15 would be seeing the Tennessee Titans beat the Texans and the Buffalo Bills top the Pittsburgh Steelers. All three events unfolding would put the Colts within one of the Steelers for the final AFC wild-card spot. It also wouldn’t hurt to see the Cleveland Browns (6-7) and Oakland Raiders (6-7) take losses to put some separation between the competition.