It would be an understatement to say that the Indianapolis Colts have been blessed with a number of fine receivers over recent years. The Marvin Harrison – Reggie Wayne tandem is widely regarded as one of the best in NFL history, while tight end Dallas Clark added to the embarrassment of riches at the disposal of Colts legend Peyton Manning during his 14-year tenure at quarterback.
A period of transition followed as the Colts were forced to adapt to life without Manning following his release after the 2011 season. Harrison had retired three years earlier and Clark was released along with experienced wide out Pierre Garcon. New head coach Chuck Pagano convinced future Hall of Famer Wayne to stay with the team and offer his wealth of experience to the young prospects secured in the 2012 NFL draft.
Picked 92nd in the third round, 23-year-old T.Y. Hilton was an important piece of the Colts’ rebuilding puzzle. He was thrust into the offense immediately and performed kick return duties with great success. Hilton finished the year with 50 catches for 861 yards and lead the team with seven touchdown receptions.
This season, injuries have forced Hilton to take that next step and he has not disappointed. The loss of tight end Dwayne Allen in Week 1 and the ACL injury to Wayne in Week 7 has increased Hilton’s level of production and he has embraced the role of first choice receiver. The poor performances of Darrius Heyward-Bey means that Wayne finished third in receptions for the year despite missing the last nine regular season games. Hilton leads the way with 82 catches, followed by second year tight end Coby Fleener. 2013 marked the first season of over 1,000 receiving yards for Hilton and there will be many more to come as the partnership with Luck continues to grow.
By far the most impressive performance of Hilton’s short career came last night against the Kansas City Chiefs on wild card weekend. His 13 catches and 224 receiving yards broke two franchise records and his yardage total is the third highest in postseason history. Traveling to face the New England Patriots next week in the AFC Divisional game, Hilton needs to maintain this level of play if the Colts are to have any chance of advancing to the conference championship.