Colts’ T.Y. Hilton impresses in training camp with 29-for-30 mark

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 09: T.Y. Hilton #13 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates after the Houston Texans defense was drawn offsides in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium on December 9, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

WESTFIELD, Ind. – Deon Cain’s in the midst of a pretty fair training camp.

That was reinforced when the Indianapolis Colts’ second-year wideout checked the latest efficiency chart. The coaches log targets and catches.

“When I looked at mine, I was pretty good,” Cain said following Monday morning’s short practice.

Pretty good?

“I was in a good, high percentile,” he said. “In the 80 percentile on targets.”

Pretty good, but not T.Y. good.

“He was in the 90s,” Cain said, shaking his head.

In fact, T.Y. Hilton resides in the high 90s.

It has been, by his estimation, the best camp of his eight-year career.

“I would think so, yeah,” Hilton said.

Based on?

“My percentage targeted and my catches . . . 29-of-30,” he said.

What happened on the outlier?

“Yeah, we’re not going to talk about that,” Hilton said. “The one messed me up, so I’ve got to top that.”

Cain insisted Hilton’s long blemish occurred Sunday. On his Twitter account, Hilton seemed to indicate linebacker Anthony Walker was the culprit.

“Even the defense was hyped about it because they already knew he had a good streak going,” Cain said. “Once they broke that up, they were hyped about it.”

On a grand scale, the Colts have to be downright giddy with Hilton’s camp performance. It’s obvious he’s not coasting despite a resume that features four Pro Bowl appearances, five 1,000-yard seasons, 40 touchdowns and dozens of game-breaking receptions.

“He’s been phenomenal,” Cain said. “He’s leading by example.”

Frank Reich was aware of Hilton’s reputation before stepping in as head coach last season. His appreciation has only increased.

“We talk about it all the time,” Reich said. “This guy is an elite, elite, elite route runner. He’s got elite football smarts. The great players like T.Y., especially receivers, just have that football intelligence that’s just off the charts.

“He has these instincts to understand leverage and coverage the way few guys do. And then his body language. It’s hard to explain, but as a quarterback you watch him run his route and you just feel where he’s going to be. It makes the throw accurate. Then he’s got tremendous ball skills on top of it.”

Hilton’s off-the-charts camp is a byproduct of putting a serious ankle injury behind him. He suffered two sprains to his right ankle week 14 at Houston. He was ultra-productive despite the injury, but it virtually him out of the practice each week.

“The offseason I was finally able to get back healthy, train how I want to train,” he said. “Just having my ankle back to where I need is pretty good.

“I was able to do a lot. I was able to get back to my old roots, get back to where I started. A lot of training on the track, continue to grind in the weight room, get my strength up.”

Hilton: Not fan of joint work

The Colts have Tuesday off before closing training camp with joint practices with the Cleveland Browns Wednesday and Thursday.

Count Hilton among those not necessarily in favor of shared practices.

“I’m not a fan of joint practices,” he said. “But it is what it is. It should be fun. Lot of excitement. A lot of special guys out there.”

The problem?

“Every time you see them there’s fights breaking out,” he said.

Reich and Browns coach Freddie Kitchens have talked on several occasions on how the practices should be run.

“We’ve already talked to our team about the tempo we’re looking for: ‘Let’s be professionals and keep the fighting out,'” Reich said.

The Colts and Baltimore Ravens shared the practice field last summer and several fights marred the sessions.

Luck: No real update

Reich confirmed Andrew Luck’s strained left calf will keep him out of the Browns’ practices. That will stretch Luck’s streak of no practice to 12 straight. He last practiced July 28, and then in a limited capacity.

Along with continuing to work on strengthening his calf, Luck is working with throwing guru Tom House, who is in town for a few days.

“That’s always good. Tom is the best,” Reich said. “This guy is the best in the world at what he does. There’s no one like Tom House.

“Tom is just an expert on throwing mechanics, every aspect. Just has a brilliant mind. You sit and talk to him for 5 minutes, you’re going to know you’re talking to somebody who’s a little bit different when it comes to this stuff.

“I think that really connects with Andrew because he not only knows Tom’s practical experience, but Tom knows every scientific formula and number behind what he’s saying.”

‘Setback’ for Campbell

Reich went out of his way not to call it a setback, but Parris Campbell experienced a hiccup on his return from a hamstring injury. The second-round draft pick hasn’t practiced since suffering the injury July 28. He’s missed 10 straight practices.

“He was kind of getting close,” Reich said, “then we had a little bit of a, I don’t want to call it a setback, but a little something yesterday. He felt a little something yesterday so we’re kind of re-evaluating that.

“Getting close, then you try to push it a little bit to see if you’re ready. ‘Oh, maybe not quite ready.’ Wait a few more days to see how that settles down.”

Guard Quenton Nelson was held out of Monday’s practice after sustaining a minor ankle injury Sunday.

“Just being precautionary,” Reich said.

More from Ya-Sin

Rookie cornerback Rock Ya-Sin provided additional highlight material Monday.

In a team session, the second-round draft pick lined up one-on-one against Devin Funchess. As Jacoby Brissett’s pass to the left sideline arrived, Ya-Sin broke on the ball which was slightly behind Funchess, made contact with Funchess and wrestled the ball away for an interception. He then headed upfield for a pick-6.

The rest of the defense chased Ya-Sin down and celebrated en masse.

“What a great play,” Reich said. “Funch actually runs a pretty good route. The throw was just a little bit off and Rock just makes a heckuva play.

“That’s just what he’s been doing. No surprise, but it’s certainly a great play by Rock.”

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

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