INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts fans haven’t recognized the guy wearing the No. 13 jersey.
Neither has someone nearer and dearer to No. 13’s heart.
As T.Y. Hilton was going over video and replaying his first two frustrating, unproductive, un-T.Y.-like games in his head Monday evening, his cell phone sprang to life.
Grandma was calling. She had watched the Colts’ 28-11 win over the Minnesota Vikings, but hadn’t recognized No. 13.
Grandma was concerned and didn’t mince words.
“She just always keep it 100 with me,’’ Hilton said Thursday on a Zoom conference call. “She always shoots it straight with me and let me know what’s up. She’s my rock. She’s my heart.
“She told me that the person that she’s seeing on TV wasn’t, you know, her grandbaby. That wasn’t me.’’
Grandma saw her grandson not only put up pedestrian numbers for a second straight game – 3 catches, 28 yards after four catches and 53 yards in the opening loss at Jacksonville – but also lose his battle with a glaring sun and fail to pull in a 45-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers.
That’s not my grandbaby!
“It hurt me for her to tell me that,’’ Hilton said. “She’s always kept it real and she said, ‘You look frustrated.’ That’s not the way I play this game. I’m always happy. I’m always excited.’’
The call might be just what Hilton needed.
“I’m back to being me,’’ he said. “Normally I’m patient, normally just go out there and do me. I don’t know what it is, what it was.
“I was trying to prove something I didn’t need to prove. Now I’m back to being me, back to having fun. You’ll see a more exciting person out there on Sunday and I look forward to it.’’
Through two games, Hilton hasn’t been nearly good enough: seven catches, 81 yards. That’s tied for the second-fewest catches in his first two games in his career, and his fewest yards since his rookie season (15).
And consider Rivers’ passer rating when targeting the Colts’ four-time Pro Bowl wideout: 35.1.
“A rough two weeks,’’ Hilton conceded. “But we’re 1-1, so I’ve just gotta find a way to start making plays.’’
Football Outsiders credits Hilton with only one dropped pass, but he disagrees. He failed to secure two critical passes on a last-minute drive against the Jaguars and followed those up with the non-TD against the Vikings when the sun was an effective defender.
“It definitely was in my eyes,’’ Hilton said. “I don’t make excuses, but I couldn’t see the ball. I was fading, I was squinting, I tried everything to catch it.
“I was still looking up, man, and the next thing I know the ball’s in my hands. It’s a drop. It is what it is.’’
It simply added to Hilton’s early-season frustrations. The numbers aside, he’s in the least impactful stretch of his career. Including the final regular-season game of ’18 and last season when a quadriceps injury and torn calf muscle limited him to 10 games, Hilton is in the midst of a 13-game regular-season stretch without a 100-yard game.
The offense’s big-play artist has yet to go off, and he knows it.
“Absolutely,’’ Hilton said. “I always evaluate myself every day. After every game I always go back and watch TV and look and see what I did wrong, what I did right.
“I’m 1,000-percent confident in my hands. I always work on it every day, before practice, after practice, during walk-throughs. It’s not about that. I’ve had three drops. That’s definitely not me.
“Gotta be better. Gotta be better and make the explosive plays my team needs me to make.’’
Those around him insist they haven’t lost confidence in Hilton.
“A guy’s track record carries a lot of weight, speaks for itself,’’ said Rivers. “There is zero lost confidence or anything for that matter. Shoot, it’s a long season and he’s going to make a ton, a ton of big plays for us.
“No concerns whatsoever from me.’’
Frank Reich agreed.
“I’m not worried about T.Y.,’’ he said. “He’s the last guy I worry about.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.
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