INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In a numbers-driven league, T.Y. Hilton will be driven by a couple as he wades into his sixth season as the Colts’ big-play receiver.
- No. 115: That’s Hilton’s slotting in the MMQB’s offseason ranking of the NFL’s top 400 players.
- No. 61: That’s his position on NFL Network’s list of the top 100 players.
Hilton used his Twitter account when arriving for training camp Saturday to react to what he perceived to be a lack of respect on the part of NFL Network:
“Another Camp & Y’all still disrespecting me. Dnt worry keep doubting me,” he tweeted.
— TY Hilton (@TYHilton13) July 29, 2017
He was in no mood to backpedal when the subject was broached Tuesday.
“I don’t know, man,’’ Hilton said. “They still don’t see me as a top-5 receiver. My stats speak for themselves.’’
That they do.
The number that speaks loudest: 1,448. That’s Hilton’s yardage total in 2016, a career best and tops in the NFL. He became the first Colt since Reggie Wayne in 2007 to lead the league in receiving yards, and just the fifth in club history, joining Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Roger Carr and Raymond Berry.
The perceived slight will serve as motivation moving forward.
“Absolutely,’’ Hilton said.
As soon as NFL Network unveiled its rankings, Hilton began receiving feedback from friends and peers.
“People told me, ‘Congratulations, glad you made it,’’’ he said. “I think I was 61 or something.’’
Did Hilton believe he was a bit low in the rankings?
“Oh, absolutely,’’ he said. “They had guys in front of me that . . .’’
His voice trailed off, and it was clear Hilton wasn’t going to criticize a particular player ranked ahead of him. But he could have.
Hilton was the 12th-ranked wideout by NFL Network. The top 11: Atlanta’s Julio Jones, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr., Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans, Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill, Miami’s Jarvis Landry, Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson, Oakland’s Amari Cooper and Dallas’ Dez Bryant.
He was the 11th-ranked wideout by MMQB. The top 10: Jones, Brown, Beckham, Green, Evans, Bryant, Philadelphia’s Alshon Jeffery, Nelson, Fitzpatrick and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas.
Of the receivers listed ahead of Hilton, only Jones (2015) and Brown (2014) have led the NFL in receiving yards.
“At the end of the day, I just go out there and play my game,’’ he said. “I can’t pay attention to (the rankings). It is what it is.
“Maybe they don’t like me. I don’t know.’’
Hilton has been fighting the stereotype of being a smallish, speedy receiver since the Colts selected him in the third round of the 2012 draft. There’s no question he’s smallish – 5-9, 180 pounds – and possesses deep speed. Of his 30 career touchdown catches, 17 have covered at least 30 yards, including seven of at least 50 yards.
Hilton’s goal is to expand his game and contributions.
“I want to get double-digit touchdowns,’’ he said. “That’s my main thing. If we do that, we should be back in the playoffs.’’
Hilton’s yearly TD yield: 6, 5, 7, 5, 7.
This and that:
Rookie safety Malik Hooker returned to practice after missing Monday’s work for personal reasons. Defensive tackle David Parry did not practice Tuesday. Rookie tight end Mo Alie-Cox missed practice and watched with a protective boot on his left foot.