Colts’ T.Y. Hilton might return in time for Texans, of course

Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS – It’s Houston Texans week, so it’s also T.Y. Hilton week, right?

Stay tuned.

In NFL jargon, the Indianapolis Colts’ veteran wide receiver is “trending’’ in the right direction and might make his season debut Sunday when the Texans visit Lucas Oil Stadium.

Hilton remains on the injured reserve list after undergoing neck surgery in September to repair a disc issue but was designated for return Wednesday and went through the team’s walkthrough.

That’s the first step in what could be an expedited return to the field. Players on IR have a 21-day window before being added to the active roster, but signs point to a much quicker appearance for Hilton.

Perhaps as soon as Sunday and against the Texans, a team he has blistered throughout his 10-year career.

“I’m still hoping like everyone else,’’ quarterback Carson Wentz said. “We’d all love for him to get out there.

“Rumor has it he’s been pretty good in this rivalry over the years.’’

Those aren’t rumors.

Hilton’s stat line from 18 regular-season meetings with Houston: 97 receptions, 1,718 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s had eight 100-yard games, including a career-best 223 yards on nine catches in week 6 of 2014. In a 2018 first-round playoff win over the Texans in Houston and on a badly sprained ankle, Hilton had five catches and 85 yards.

Reich’s week perked up after his normal meeting with the team’s medical staff on Tuesday.

“That was great news on T.Y. Tuesday when I got out of that medical meeting that he had a schedule, so he’ll be out there this week (in practice),’’ he said. “Then we’ll determine his status as the week goes on.

“Certainly excited to have T.Y. back in the fold and out on the field. Obviously that’s a big emotional boost to the team, and obviously it’s Houston week.’’

Reich paused, well aware of Hilton’s knack for routinely blistering the Texans’ secondary.

“Probably not a coincidence,’’ he said with a smile.

Neither is the Colts’ disturbing record when they’ve been without Hilton: 2-14.

Michael Pittman Jr. is emerging as a bona fide No. 1 receiver in his second year and without Hilton. The 2020 second-round draft pick leads the team with 29 catches for 368 yards and one highlight-worthy touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens.

But there’s no question what Hilton’s return could mean for Wentz and the offense.

He probably no longer is the top-tier wideout of several years ago, but he remains the third-most productive receiver in franchise history with 608 receptions, 9,360 yards and 50 TDs.

“I think it opens it up for everybody,’’ Reich said. “Everybody knows we like to spread it around. If T.Y.’s playing, everybody knows we’re going to try and get him the ball.

“He’s a playmaker, and we know what he brings to our team.’’

Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner won’t be surprised if Hilton makes a quick return to the lineup.

“I mean, T.Y.’s a dog,’’ he said. “His presence, his leadership is always great to have in the locker room and on the field.

“To see him be able to practice this week after the surgery that he’s had, it’s going to be fun to get the Ghost back out there.’’

Injuries have kept the Colts’ offense from building anything resembling chemistry: Hilton, Wentz, Quenton Nelson, Braden Smith, Ryan Kelly.

But even with Hilton missing the first five games and focusing on rehab from the neck surgery, Wentz is convinced he could have an immediate impact.

“Yeah, I think so,’’ he said. “We all know how hard he’s been working.

“I’m hoping. I’m optimistic. I think everybody is hoping he can be out there. But mentally he’s still dialed in. He’s a smart, savvy veteran. If he can go, I’m not worried about where he’s at mentally.’’

Listen to the Colts Blue Zone Podcast for weekly coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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