INDIANAPOLIS – T.Y. Hilton is back, for a third time.
The veteran wide receiver has successfully navigated his way through the NFL’s concussion protocol in time for the Indianapolis Colts’ Sunday meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“I’m feeling good,’’ Hilton said Friday. “Back, feel clear, ready to go.’’
He added his availability for Sunday remained in the hands of the coaches and medical staff, but Frank Reich erased any doubt.
“It’ll be good to have him back in the mix,’’ he said.
Hilton’s 10th season has been one of fits and starts. Or restarts.
He missed the first five games after undergoing surgery in early September to repair a disc issue in his neck. Hilton made his first appearance in week 6 against Houston but was forced from the game in the fourth quarter with a quadriceps injury.
The quad kept him out of the San Francisco game, but he was back the following week against Tennessee. Hilton again was unable to finish the game after suffering a concussion.
He admitted it’s been a frustrating season to this point.
“Mentally it’s been very tough,’’ he said. “I want to be out there with my teammates, but I’ve had some unfortunate circumstances. I just continue to pray about it.
“Right now I feel good. I feel fresh. I’m putting that behind me.’’
Hilton steps into an offense that is operating at a high level. It’s averaging an NFL-best 34.3 points over the past four weeks and has scored at least 30 points in four consecutive games for the first time since 2010.
In his two appearances, Hilton has six catches for 96 yards.
“T.Y. is just a big playmaker, all over the field,’’ Reich said. “He’s so smart, and he’s so instinctive. He just has a knack and a feel.
“He has the speed to get deep, but against zone coverages – and this team plays a fair amount of zone – he just has a knack of finding the right spots.’’
Other Injury Matters
The only player ruled out of Sunday’s game is Xavier Rhodes. The veteran cornerback aggravated a calf injury against the New York Jets.
Defensive end DeForest Buckner didn’t practice Friday after having a back issue flare up Thursday.
“It just locked up on him yesterday in practice,’’ Reich said. “Trying to let that thing settle down.’’
The team expects Buckner to play against the Jaguars, but “we all know how those back things are when they lock up,’’ Reich said. “Hopefully in the next 48 hours it can settle down.
“I think he’s going to be OK, but you never know.’’
Reich is optimistic right tackle Braden Smith will remain in the starting lineup after suffering an injury to his right elbow against the Jets.
Also, there’s a good chance cornerback T.J. Carrie will be added to the active roster from the injured reserve list. If that’s the case, Carrie will provide needed depth at corner and perhaps at safety.
And if Carrie plays, he likely will be on a pitch count.
Finally, quarterback Carson Wentz was “feeling better’’ Friday after “being under the weather’’ the previous day, according to Reich.
Meetings on Thursday were handled virtually, and Wentz’s COVID-19 test was negative.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.