Colts’ T.Y. Hilton likely to miss Patriots’ game

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 24: T.Y. Hilton #13 of the Indianapolis Colts runs with the ball during the game against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts proved they could operate at a high level without one of their few difference-making players.

That would be Pro Bowl wideout T.Y. Hilton, who missed the fourth quarter and overtime of Sunday’s loss to Houston.

It looks as if they’ll have to do it again Thursday night against the New England Patriots.

Nothing’s official, but Frank Reich gave every indication Tuesday the team is expecting Hilton to miss just his third game in seven seasons with chest and hamstring injuries.

“We’ll miss T.Y.,’’ Reich said, “but at the same time you’ve just got to have the next-man-up mentality.’’

Hilton suffered what’s believed to be a bruised chest while being tackled after a 40-yard catch-and-run in the first against the Texans. He remained on the ground for several minutes and taken to the locker room, but returned to the game. However, he again exited in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. To that point, he had his best game of the season: four catches, 115 yards.

The 2012 third-round draft pick has missed only two games: one each in his rookie season and in ’14.

Reich admitted the obvious: “It impacts losing a great player in T.Y. As far as game-planning, we have a lot of confidence in the next guy up. I think that showed this past week when T.Y. went out.

“We still were able to move the ball well. Credit to the guys. Andrew did a phenomenal job of creating plays and getting the ball to the players.’’

In the fourth quarter and overtime, Luck was on top of his game. Facing a 28-17 deficit and without Hilton, he completed 24-of-32 passes for 243 yards and touchdowns to Eric Ebron and Nyheim Hines. His 24 completions were spread among seven players: Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal with five each, Ebron, Hines and Ryan Grant with four each and Marcus Johnson and Mo Alie-Cox with one each.

“The whole offseason we kinda felt this was a good group, a real competitive group, all guys who could play winning football,’’ Reich said.

Luck noted the young receivers are “unfazed’’ with the situation.

“They go out and prepare well and when their number’s called, they make the most of the opportunity,’’ he said. “Those guys make me look good. They made the quarterback look good. By no means were we perfect. By no means were we sharp enough.

“But the fight that they showed and fighting for that extra yard, that extra inch, making some really tough plays against man coverage (and) long game. The fight, proud of it, but it’s to be expected. That is who we are as a locker room.’’

In recovery mode

The quick turnaround and rash of injuries resulted in a rarity: the Colts won’t have an actual practice before Thursday’s road test with New England. Their on-field preparation will consist of walk-throughs.

“Originally we were thinking about going out to practice,’’ Reich said Tuesday, “but given the short week and the amount of plays in overtime, most important to take care of the guys physically and just get focused in mentally in what we’re going to do.’’

The unofficial participation report for Tuesday listed 11 players as not participating: Hilton, tight end Jack Doyle (hip), safety Clayton Geathers (knee), cornerbacks Nate Hairston (ankle), Quincy Wilson (concussion) and Kenny Moore II (concussion), kicker Adam Vinatieri (groin), defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway (calf), linebacker Darius Leonard (ankle), center Ryan Kelly (hand) and offensive tackle Denzelle Good (personal).

Roster moves

The Colts waived running back Jeremy McNichols and signed running back Jonathan Williams to the practice squad.