T.Y. Hilton ‘feels fine,’ but must be 100 percent to play vs. Saints


HOUSTON, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 21: Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton #13 of the Indianapolis Colts warms up before the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on November 21, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – There are a few undeniable facts when it comes to T.Y. Hilton’s availability for Monday night’s meeting with the Saints in New Orleans.

  1. it’ll be a game-time decision.
  2. Hilton will have input, but not the final say.

The Indianapolis Colts’ four-time Pro Bowl wideout did not practice Saturday after limited participation the previous two days. Hilton has missed five of the last six games with a calf injury.

“I felt fine,’’ he said. “Did what I could do. I feel fine, feel good.

“Just up to the coaches and the doctors now.’’

Frank Reich always has listened to Hilton regarding his readiness to play while dealing with an injury. Now, he’s insisting the team’s star wideout must be 100 percent before returning.

“Yeah, that is the bar,’’ Reich said. “We’ve kind of been down this road before (and) he wasn’t there.

“We just want to feel good about it. We just want to do the right thing and make sure he feels right, and we feel like he’s good.’’

Hilton first injured the calf during an Oct. 30 practice. He missed three games and returned for the Nov. 21 game at Houston but wasn’t 100 percent. Hilton was on a pitch count – 25 snaps – and caught just 3 passes for 18 yards while experiencing tightness in the calf.

He’s practiced just three times, all on a limited basis, since suffering the injury.

Part of the decision on Monday’s game, Reich admitted, is protecting Hilton from himself. Hilton made it clear earlier this week he’s committed to playing again this season.

“That’s definitely part of the equation knowing how he is,’’ Reich said. “He’s a warrior.

“He’s got good work in this week. I’m not saying (playing is) out of the question at all. For the limited reps that he took, it was solid. It’s a Monday night game so we’ve got a little bit of time. Maybe we can get there.’’

If Hilton plays, he won’t be on a pitch count.

“No,’’ Reich said, “because if he plays, he’s 100 percent.’’

Can Hilton get to 100 percent by Monday evening?

“We’ll see,’’ he said. “It’s up to coach and doc.’’

It’s worth reminding everyone the Colts are 1-9 when Hilton has missed a game with an injury.

Despite missing six games this season, Hilton is tied for second with 35 receptions, third with 378 yards and tied for first with five TDs.

While Hilton’s status for Monday night is iffy, Reich ruled out cornerback Kenny Moore II (ankle).

A definite Indy flavor

The Superdome will be rocking Monday night, and the Colts find themselves as motivational tools on several levels.

First, at halftime, the Saints are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Super Bowl XLIV victory over the Colts. A successful onside kick to start the second half and Tracy Porter’s pick-6 of Peyton Manning late in the fourth quarter were catalysts for the 31-17 victory.

Second, quarterback Drew Brees needs three touchdown passes to break Manning’s all-time NFL record of 539. He’s had 15 in six games since returning from thumb surgery.

Finally, Saints wideout Michael Thomas is on pace to break Marvin Harrison’s single-season record of 143 receptions. Thomas enters the game with 121 and is on pace for 148. Harrison’s record has stood since 2002.

“The Superdome, it’s crazy in there,’’ linebacker Darius Leonard said. “They have some crazy fans, a hostile environment, something I love. I take it back to that Kansas City game. I like that environment. I love it when the crowd’s into it, the crowd’s talking trash.

“We want to go out there and shut them up.’’

Some of the trash talking is coming from Leonard’s family. His brother, Anthony Waters, was a backup linebacker on the Saints’ championship team and will be on hand for the reunion. Waters appeared in three regular-season games in 2009 but was inactive for New Orleans’ playoff run.

“My brother played there and it’s their 10-year anniversary of their Super Bowl,’’ Leonard said. “He’s talking trash. I want to go out there and talk trash against him.’’

Leonard was in the stands at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida to support his brother.

“I remember everything about that game,’’ he said. “I remember a pick-6 by Tracy Porter. I remember the onside kick. I remember all of that. Those games growing up you don’t forget.’’

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

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