T.Y. Hilton checking off boxes; return at Houston possible

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 20: T.Y. Hilton #13 of the Indianapolis Colts takes the field before the start of the game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – There are boxes still to be checked before T.Y. Hilton is cleared to return for a critical meeting with Houston Thursday night, but a couple of important ones already have been marked off.

The Indianapolis Colts’ Pro Bowl wideout indicated he feels ready to return and has checked off the boxes necessary to him as he continues his rehab from a “freak’’ calf injury sustained during an Oct. 30 practice.

“It’s up the doctors and Frank (Reich) and Chris (Ballard),’’ he said Tuesday. “If I check all the boxes . . . for me, how I feel, the doctors and trainers, and then Frank and Chris have the last say-so.

“If I check off all the boxes, then I’ll be out there. There’s about two more. The last two will be the say-so.’’

Again, those final two boxes must be checked off by the medical staff and Reich and Ballard.

Reich repeatedly has mentioned Hilton’s unique ability to return from an injury. He also relies heavily on how Hilton feels on whether he should play or not, even without having practiced.

“This guy is weird. He’s like a freakish healer,’’ Reich said recently. “He doesn’t say a lot. He just kind of figures out how to do it.

“So I don’t even ask. I mean, I do, I’m obviously the coach, and I want to know. Just, ‘Whatever that is that you do to get better, let’s just go ahead and do it and let us know when you can play.’’’

Players always are involved with the decision-making process whenever injuries are concerned, and that’s especially true with Hilton. Last season, he dealt with two sprains to his right ankle after a week 14 win over Houston but didn’t miss the subsequent five games – including two in the playoffs – even though he practiced only once.

“There are percentages, right?’’ Reich said of a player’s input. “The player always has a say, and his opinion is heavily weighted.

“When it is somebody like T.Y., you add more weight to it, absolutely.’’

Hilton has missed the last three games with the calf injury. He initially thought it would be a much longer absence.

“Freak accident,’’ he said. “Just running like I normally do. I just ran the route earlier and I ran it and it kinda got me.

“I thought my season was over. Hey, a scary moment. It was something freak.’’

Hilton’s history against the Texans is well-documented. He jokingly has described NRG Stadium as his second home.

In 15 regular-season games against Houston, Hilton has 82 receptions, 1,519 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s topped the 100-yard mark in four of his last six regular-season appearances.

Three of the four top regular-season games of Hilton’s career, including the top two, have come in Houston: 223 yards on nine catches in 2014 and 199 yards on nine catches last season and 175 yards on five catches in 2017.

The injury was expected to sideline Hilton for three to four weeks, and Wednesday marks the third week since he went down.

He downplayed the possibility of returning against a team he’s had so much success against.

“Me? No, not personally,’’ Hilton said. “(It’s) if I can get back out there and help my team. It’s just been tough for me watching the past three games, and I’m not accustomed to missing games.

“It’s just been tough, but I’m just getting my body back how I need it. If I feel good and I check the boxes, then let’s rock. If not, let’s sit back and wait ‘cause I don’t want to have to start back.’’

Hilton has not practiced with the team since suffering the injury. The Colts have had a pair of light walk-throughs this week. Reich noted Hilton has been working “on the side’’ with the rehab staff, and that likely means strenuous drills to adequately test the stability of the calf.

“I don’t need practice,’’ Hilton said. “It’s just how my body feels. If I feel good and all the boxes are checked, then I go. If three out of four boxes are checked, then I’m not playing. All four have to be checked for me to play.’’

He made it clear he’s not concerned with aggravating the injury against Houston.

“I work hard,’’ he said. “My body tells me what I should and should not do, what I can and what I can’t do. If it tells me it feels good, then I feel good.’’

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51

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