This afternoon, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano ruled out three players for Indy's game in Dallas against the Cowboys on Sunday: right tackle Gosder Cherilus (groin) and guards Hugh Thornton (knee) and Joe Reitz (ankle). None of them practiced this week, so that's no surprise. The Colts also have two very notable players who are questionable: wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and cornerback Vontae Davis (groin).
When it comes to Hilton, the only work he did in practice was working with trainers on Friday. This season, 33 players have not practiced at all for an entire week, and zero of them have played. Three more are added to that list this week with the three linemen, but we'll see about Hilton. Chuck Pagano wouldn't rule him out, saying that, "this guy is pretty special, don't count him out." With that said, however, I still wouldn't expect Hilton to play, though there's still a chance.
He has been one of the best receivers in football this year, catching 82 passes for 1,345 yards and 7 touchdowns. He has 23 more catches and 663 more yards than any other Colt this season. In fact, his yardage total is nearly double the total of the second-leading receiver on the Colts (Coby Fleener). Without Hilton, it would be Reggie Wayne, Donte Moncrief, Hakeem Nicks, and maybe even Josh Cribbs as the receivers with tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener likely seeing increased reps. Another thing to keep in mind is the possibility that the Colts want to get Reggie some rest in advance of the playoffs, and if they decide to do that the receiver situation would look even worse. Either way, I'd expect to see more of the tight ends in the passing game if Hilton can't go.
Also questionable for the Colts is cornerback Vontae Davis, who has been dealing with a groin injury. If he can't play it would be just as problematic for the Colts, especially with Dez Bryant at receiver for the Cowboys. Davis has arguably been the best corner in football this year, and his value to the Colts is hard to overstate. He's their best defensive player. If he can't play then it would likely be a similar situation to a couple of weeks ago when he missed with a concussion, with Greg Toler taking over as the number one receiver and then Darius Butler and Josh Gordy seeing time at Davis' spot. Simply put, though, if Davis can't go the Colts will have a very, very tough task on Sunday against the Cowboys' offense and Dez Bryant. Additionally, with both Hilton and Davis they are arguably the two most important Colts outside of Andrew Luck. So it probably goes without saying, but I'll say it here anyway: it's really not good for Indy if one or both of them can't play.
Gosder Cherilus has been dealing with injuries for much of the season. He missed a game in week twelve with a shoulder injury and now he will miss this game with a groin injury. He has played very poorly this season and a reason for that has been the injuries, and so the Colts are likely trying to get him healthy for the playoffs. That's a wise move, but at this point it shouldn't hurt the Colts a ton because, as already mentioned, he hasn't had a good year. Expect Xavier Nixon to step in for him, especially with Joe Reitz out again (Reitz started for Cherilus in week eleven).
Hugh Thornton will miss his fourth straight game with his knee injury, and while Pagano has described him as day-to-day he still hasn't practiced since the injury. He was playing poorly before the injury as well, so it's not a huge loss. My expectation is that Lance Louis will start his second straight game there, but with the Colts and their offensive line you just never know. Additionally, Joe Reitz will miss his second straight game. He's a backup, but a valuable one and with two "starters" missing along the line this week it's very possible that Reitz would have played if healthy. He's not, though, as he's still dealing with his ankle injury.