Colts: TY Hilton injury will test Indy’s wide receiver depth early

WESTFIELD, INDIANA - JULY 29: T.Y. Hilton #13 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
WESTFIELD, INDIANA - JULY 29: T.Y. Hilton #13 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

One of the more puzzling decisions made by GM Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts was deciding to eschew making a major upgrade at the wide receiver position. Instead, veterans like TY Hilton and young players like Michael Pittman Jr. and Mike Strachan will fill the void.

Hilton may not be the same Pro Bowl level talent that could single-handedly change the scope of a game with his speed, but he was projected to be the No. 1 wide receiver and main perimeter threat for Carson Wentz and an Indianapolis squad looking to make it back to the postseason.

However, the injury bug has come to once again bite the Colts in the rear end, as Stephen Holder of The Athletic is reporting that Hilton is expected to miss multiple weeks with an injury sustained during Wednesday’s practice. His availability against the Seattle Seahawks could be in question.

The Colts’ wide receiver depth isn’t exactly at the same level it was during their prime Peyton Manning years, as it is populated with a bunch of neophyte players. Will they be able to step up if Hilton is forced to miss a major chunk of time?

Will the Colts’ receivers be able to replace TY Hilton?

Pittman, who has been setting the tone at practice, will obviously be the guy who gets the lion’s share of the targets in any situation without Hilton. What he lacks in speed he adds in physicality, the ability to make plays as a vertical receiver, and some surprising skills when it comes to making plays as a runner. He’ll be a sure-fire success.

Beyond that, things will get a little muddy. Will Zach Pascal be able to step up once again in Hilton’s absence? Will training camp standout Mike Strachan be elevated to a prominent role within the offense, or will they bury the raw rookie down on the depth chart beneath more experienced options?

Is this the year we finally get a Parris Campbell breakout? He could use the first few weeks as a jumping-off point if Hilton is unable to lace them up.

Unfortunately, there is no other way to spin this into a positive. Hilton figures to be one of the main factors in giving Wentz a more stable, productive environment, and losing a veteran presence like Hilton might make it even more difficult for Wentz to settle in with his new teammates.

Then again, Wentz and Quenton Nelson appear to be ready to return from their injuries sooner than later, so there is hope Hilton returns in a timely fashion.