Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton may only be entering his 5th NFL season, but at the tender age of 26 years old, he’s now the “grizzled veteran” of his team’s young receiving corps.
Gone are longtime NFL veterans such as Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson, which means that it’s become T.Y.’s torch to shine the light on a young group of wide receivers that includes the likes of Donte Moncrief (22) and Phillip Dorsett (23) among others:
"June 9, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receivers T.Y. Hilton (13), and Phillip Dorsett (15) wait their turn to run passing routes during minicamp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports“As long as I continue to push those guys and continue to lead by example and be more vocal then I think those guys will follow,” said T.Y. Hilton at OTA’s on Tuesday. “Whenever they have a question, I’m always there. The answer, tell them what they need to do, how they can get better, so I’m always pushing those guys and want what’s best for them.”“I was a lead by-example guy, but now I’m being more vocal. Just talking to those guys. Making sure they understand the plays with Andrew (Luck) and Scott (Tolzien) and just continue to get better.”"
It’s only right, as Wayne once upon a time showed Hilton the ropes of what it meant to be a professional and elite player at the wide receiver position.
So far, Hilton’s hard work has paid off this offseason both on the field and in the locker room, as his head coach Chuck Pagano only had high praise for his star wide receiver.
In fact, Pagano said that Hilton is “having as good of an offseason as anybody”:
"“T.Y. is having as good of an offseason as anybody,” said Chuck Pagano on Tuesday at OTA’s. “Probably better than anybody right now. There’s a lot of good stuff going on out there, but I’ve never seen this guy practice as fast as he’s practicing right now and competing at the level he’s competing at and leading the way he’s leading. And he’s done it day in and day out.”"
The diminutive, yet incredibly dangerous wideout is coming off a somewhat disappointing season for his normal high standards at first glance, as he caught 69 receptions for 1,124 receiving yards and 5 touchdown receptions.
However, he still made a consecutive Pro Bowl appearance and eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards.
Such receiving production came without superstar quarterback Andrew Luck for 9 games after all, as Hilton had to suffer through inconsistent starting quarterback play in his absence.
Still, as one of the team’s best players and Luck’s go-to target, Hilton could be in-line for a great season next year. He’s clearly taking this offseason very seriously–both on the field as well as in the Colts locker room.
That’s what great players do.
It’s T.Y.’s time to carry the torch.