INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Let’s compare it to deciding it’s finally time to yank the cover off your prized sports car and taking it for a spin.
Welcome to 2019, T.Y. Hilton.
“I feel good,’’ he said. “They can’t hold me back no more.
“It’s time for me to go.’’
In his second season as head coach, Frank Reich greatly altered his approach. No longer did he feel it necessary to expose his front-line players to an inordinate number of repetitions in preseason games. The overriding objective was to reach the opener – Sunday against the Chargers in Los Angeles – as healthy as possible.
The Indianapolis Colts’ first-team All-Pros – Quenton Nelson and Darius Leonard – and Justin Houston took 11 snaps each. Marlon Mack was on the field for 16 plays and Anthony Castonzo and Ryan Kelly for 19.
Hilton? Not a one.
“I’m good,’’ he said. “Even if I did play, I’d only played two, three, five plays.’’
Reich is confident Hilton will be in mid-season form even though the four-time Pro Bowl wideout didn’t take a single preseason snap for the first time in his career.
“I have zero concern about T.Y. being rusty in any way,’’ he said. “He’s ready. He’s worked tremendously well and he’s ready to go.’’
The overriding theme of Hilton’s training camp and the days leading up to Sunday revolves around his health. He’s as close to 100 percent as an NFL player can be, considering the normal wear and tear.
And that’s in stark contrast to how 2018 ended for Hilton. He was the NFL’s most productive wideout over the second half of the season (917 yards, 114.6 per game) despite playing the final five games, including the postseason, with high and low sprains to his right ankle. He barely practiced during that stretch.
Not only is Hilton healthy, he’s downright bullish on the ’19 Colts.
“We’re going to be good,’’ he said. “I’ve been on the good teams, I’ve been on the bad teams and I’ve been on not-so-good teams. But this team is special. We have pretty much everything you need to have everywhere on the field.’’
Good, but really good?
“This is probably the best team I have ever been around,’’ Hilton said. “It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be great.
“I actually look forward to the show.’’
In something of a surprise, Reich announced Friday Howard Mudd has left the team “on his own terms” after a six-month stint as the team’s senior offensive assistant.
“Just within the last week or so he had mentioned to me he thought his time was coming,’’ Reich said. “Great on your own terms to be able to do that. He did his job. He was ready to step down and move on.’’
Mudd, 77, has been part of the NFL for more than 40 years. He served as the Colts’ offensive line coach from 1998-2009.
When the team was looking to replace Dave DeGuglielmo in the offseason, it focused on Denver assistant Chris Strausser. As it turned out, the vetting process included talking with Mudd, who had gotten close to Strausser during Strausser’s time at the University of Washington.
Not only did Reich and general manager Chris Ballard sign Strausser, they added Mudd as well.
“There was no set timeline,’’ Reich said. “It was ‘C’mon back, help us out.’
“His contribution the last six months has been tremendous.’’
Defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee) and running back Jonathan Williams (rib) have been ruled out of Sunday’s game. Running back Jordan Wilkins (ankle) and defensive end Kemoko Turay (neck) are questionable.
Kenny Moore II (thumb) was a full participant Friday after being limited the previous two days because of a broken right thumb. He practiced with a protective club on his right hand.
“He did well,’’ Reich said. “He had two interceptions today in practice.
“I was kidding him the other day, ‘Are you going to be able to catch it if you get your hands on one?’ He said, “We’ll see. He got his hands on two of them today and came down with both of them.’’
And be sure to catch the Colts Blue Zone Podcast: