Colts star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton took the time to sit down with local radio personality John Michael Vincent (JMV) following training camp practice on Monday. Topics ranged from fast food, to comments about specific teammates, to trying to gain insight about the new look Colts offense. Hilton handled the questions with the kind of professionalism that you would expect, carefully choosing his words in most cases but there were some interesting pieces to take away from the interview.
JMV spent some time discussing Andrew Luck’s return to the field and how it has impacted the team. Specifically, he asked if it was difficult to play without him — acknowledging that Jacoby Brissett made some nice plays in his absence. Hilton said:
Yeah. Me and him have this chemistry that any point in time we can attack the defense and go up and down the field. Just having a new quarterback getting used to getting our timing was kind of different. Having him back is fun.
Reports out of camp have consistently supported that Luck and Hilton are right back on the same page, even after missing so much time. Hilton’s production took a considerable dip without him so there is no getting around the fact that Luck’s return is good for him.
Regarding how they have built that chemistry, Hilton reflected on how long they’ve been together.
We are going on year 7. We constantly talk through text, on the phone. He is one of those guys that whenever we need a play, we give each other that look and we make the play.
This is the same kind of chemistry Colts fans were used to when they watched Peyton Manning play with Marvin Harrison. A glance out to Harrison from the pocket pre-snap, especially if he was calling an audible, meant impending doom for opposing defenses. Assuming Hilton and Luck can stay healthy, there is good reason to believe that they will produce at top levels again in 2018.
Just how much should Colts fans expect from Hilton this year? Take it from the man himself:
Lead the league in receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns... and get us back to the playoffs.
These are lofty expectations but Hilton leading the league in receiving yards should mean that the Colts offense is pretty effective. If the offense is clicking, we’ve already seen how far Andrew Luck can take a football team — including one that has glaring weaknesses all over the roster.
JMV pressed Hilton on that exact topic. JMV said, “Then I am assuming, if that happens, Luck is probably getting talked about...” and Hilton interrupted him and said, “MVP. Hands down.”
It is certainly nice to hear that Hilton has this level of confidence. It is not particularly surprising for a football player on any team in the league make bold predictions, so the comments can be taken with a grain of salt, but there is no doubt that Hilton and the Colts are excited about what Luck’s return means for the team’s future.
When asked about the off-season and what he has done to get himself ready to perform at a high level, Hilton spoke mainly about his diet. He admitted to cutting out fast food and joked about cutting out Popeye’s, the same restaurant Pacers star Victor Oladipo eliminated from his diet to put up the best season of his career.
Regarding his playing time in Thursday night’s preseason game, Hilton admitted that the coaching staff hasn’t shared specific expectations with the players yet. He said that he typically plays “a series or so” but doesn’t know anything more than that.
When asked about his teammates at receiver, Hilton talked about Ryan Grant helping out with young players, specifically Deon Cain and Reece Fountain.
He also complimented K.J. Brent when he said, “K.J. Brent is having a great camp so far.” While mentioning drafted rookies and a big free agent signing is not surprising in any way, mentioning Brent unprompted may be an indication that he is earning respect from his teammates.
Brent is a player who fans should watch closely on Thursday night, and moving forward in training camp and the preseason.
While this time of year is way to early to accurately predict how things will turn out for any NFL team, it is clear that T.Y. Hilton expects to benefit greatly from Andrew Luck’s return. The excitement level for all players who have seen Luck returning to his normal self in practices has be noted throughout all of training camp.
The next step is getting live game action on Thursday night.