It’s already well documented that I believe Colts WR T.Y. Hilton is poised for a breakout year in 2013, but all of my projection was simply based off of the fact that Hilton would receive more touches in 2013 than actual hype building around him from the coaches and his teammates. Now, the hype is really starting to build. Two weeks into training camp and two days before the team’s first pre-season game, Hilton’s reputation with the Colts is really on the rise.
After a solid rookie season where he showed off his big play ability and became the first Colts rookie to return a punt and catch a pass for a touchdown in the same game, Hilton is ready to grow in his second year in the NFL and really blossom into a more consistent weapon at the WR position. Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has seen his share of great receivers over the course of a 15-year career, and he had some great things to say about Hilton after yesterday’s practice.
“I think T.Y. Hilton can be really special as a receiver, and I’ve been around a lot of receivers,” said Hasselbeck. “He’s a guy I see who could be poised to break out.”
Hilton is certainly not alone in his candidacy to break out this season. The Colts could have a wide variety of players–specifically on the offensive side of the ball–that could really bust out in 2013. Everything hinges, of course, on the development of quarterback Andrew Luck, which by all accounts appears to be on schedule and on par with what everyone has been expecting.
The role of Hilton in Pep Hamilton’s offense is sure to be vastly different than it was a year ago. The Colts will still use him all over the field, but with Donnie Avery gone and Darrius Heyward-Bey in the fold, Hilton may be used more as a “Z” or slot receiver than he was before. The Colts can still use Hilton outside as often as they want, because he has the deep speed to burn any cornerback in the NFL. With Reggie Wayne as the team’s possession receiver, Hilton and DHB will be counted on to be the big play guys for the Colts.
With Heyward-Bey’s injury potentially limiting him in the team’s first pre-season game, it will be very interesting to see how the Colts would use Hilton if there were no question that he was the team’s number two receiver.
At this point in training camp, that may even be the case. There were reports at the outset of camp that DHB was struggling with drops, and just as he started coming on a bit toward the end of the first week, he was injured for what appeared to be a long period of time, and then turned out not to be.
Whatever the Colts’ rotation at WR looks like, fellow class of 2012 member Andrew Luck is pleased that Hilton is on his side.
“He plays with a quiet confidence that’s really fun to be around,” said Luck. “He’s a phenomenal teammate. You can tell T.Y. takes coaching really well. He’s smart, he knows how to play football but he also does a great job of taking coaching. He’s been phenomenal.”
Any time a coach says a player is “not thinking” you’d automatically assume it to be a bad thing, but in the case of Chuck Pagano’s comments regarding Hilton, it’s a huge compliment.
“T.Y. is not thinking. He plays fast,” said Pagano. “You could see him in the middle and toward the end of last season really take off. He came in in the off-season and picked up right where he left off. He’s a talented guy. He’s going to become an elite guy.”
Those are some pretty big words from coach Pagano. Hilton becoming elite? Only a few receivers in the league, including current Colts wideout Reggie Wayne, receive that distinction. If Hilton is to become elite, it’s going to take a lot of work and to put a lot of extra time in with Andrew Luck. He certainly has the ability and we saw it coming out of Florida International a couple of years ago as well, but to hear the team’s head coach say that is a pretty big statement.
The expectations for Hilton are rising rapidly. Let’s hope he answers the call.
(quotes courtesy of www.Colts.com)