T.Y. Hilton closer to returning for Colts; Hot Rod ruled out vs. Houston

Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS – The T.Y. Hilton Watch will continue into the weekend, but all signs point to the Indianapolis Colts’ veteran receiver making his first appearance of the season Sunday against the Houston Texans.

Hilton went through his first full practice Friday on his road back from neck surgery, and the results were encouraging.

“I thought he looked good,’’ Frank Reich said. “He was into it all week. We need to see how he comes out of this practice, and we’ll probably make that decision (Saturday).’’

Hilton remains on the injured reserve list and obviously must be added to the active roster prior to Sunday’s game.

That step should be taken, despite the fact Hilton’s preparation for the game will consist of limited practice this week.

“Considering his experience and his competitiveness and just who he is – his leadership – if there’s anyone who can do it, it’s him,’’ Reich said.

“I feel good about where he’s at. I just want to check with him tomorrow. I’m cautiously optimistic.’’

Hilton underwent surgery in late August to repair his C-6 disc that was pinching against a nerve and causing a loss of feeling on his left side.

Thursday, he said, “I’m happy to be back. I’m happy to have my feeling back. I feel good. I’m good, man.’’

However, he stopped short of giving himself the green light for the Texans game.

“I’ve got to practice,’’ he said. “That’s up to the docs. I’ve got to get my legs back under me. Gotta pass some tests.’’

Reich has been assured Hilton’s neck injury no longer is an issue.

“My understanding is when this is healed, it’s healed,’’ he said. “There’s no concerns. Again, above my pay grade, but the doctors give the clearance and said he’s ready to go.’’

Reich also was informed Hilton won’t need to be on a pitch count when he returns.

“You know T.Y.,’’ he said. “He’s taking good care of himself. That guy works hard. He’s in shape. He stays in shape. He does everything possible to help this team.

“I feel good about where’s he at.’’

Hilton revealed he briefly considered retirement shortly after the surgery.

Reich smiled when asked about that.

“I’m glad he didn’t talk to me about that,’’ he said, laughing and adding he would have told Hilton, “‘We’ve got some business to take care of.’

“I think that’s a normal thing to go through. As an ex-player I can relate to it a little bit. It’s neck injury, so you’ve got to get past that. Once you can get past the mental part of that neck injury, I think that was the key.

“I’m sure glad that he didn’t (retire).’’

Blankenship Among Colts Ruled Out

Indianapolis Colts kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (3) kneels on the field after an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with an injury to his right hip suffered during pregame warm-ups Monday night at Baltimore.

That opens the door for Michael Badgley to handle the kicking against Houston. He was signed to the practice squad this week and will be elevated to the active roster.

Also ruled out: right tackle Braden Smith (foot), defensive end Kemoko Turay (groin), safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) and running back Jordan Wilkins (non-football illness).

Quenton Nelson remains on the injured reserve list with a sprained right ankle and will miss a third straight game. He’s eligible to return next week.

Nelson, Reich said, is making “very good progress. He’s eligible next week. We’re optimistic.’’

Listen to the Colts Blue Zone Podcast for weekly coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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