Indianapolis Colts diminutive receiver T.Y. Hilton made a splash in 2012. The former-third-round pick from Florida International hauled in 50 receptions and seven touchdowns last year from fellow rookie Andrew Luck.
Those numbers are good, but this year the Colts are expecting Hilton to take a step forward and cement himself as a consistently productive NFL receiver.
And it’s not just Hilton who’s looking to take a step forward, it’s the Colts offense as a whole. Andrew Luck is the quarterback of the future, he proved that beyond any doubt last year, but for him and the offense to continue to progress on their way to being a dominant unit, they’ll need Hilton to be even better this year than he was in his rookie campaign.
A master at the run after the catch, the 5-foot-9, 183-pound receiver made play after play by finding the soft spots on the field, catching the ball on the run and making the most out of his elusiveness. That makes him the perfect match for a quarterback like Luck, who excels at the accuracy needed to hit his targets in stride.
Hilton brings plenty of talent to the field, and seemed to have a knack for getting open last year. This season, things will be different. NFL defenses will no longer take him for granted, they will spend their time in practice focusing on ways to keep him away from the ball. If he’s going to be better in 2013, he’s going to need to be better prepared, better at the mental side of the game.
So far the results from Hilton are good. His production last year was a good sign for a talented receiver who has a promising career in front of him. If he can build on that success by being a smarter football player, by reading defenses that are geared up to take him out of the game, he’ll take that next step and become one of the league’s premier slot receivers.