INDIANAPOLIS – In searching for that final contract, T.Y. Hilton will have to prove it without his best friend, and the best quarterback he’s played with in 8 NFL seasons.
Hilton’s numbers with Andrew Luck under center, compared to without No. 12, carry a stark contrast.
-82 games with Luck: 5 catches per game, 79.3 yards per game, 15.9 yards per reception, 28 100-yard games (34% of games).
-36 games without Luck: 4 catches per game, 58.3 yards per game, 14.6 yards per reception, 5 100-yard games (14% of games)
Those numbers without Luck aren’t at the perennial 1,000-yard level that Hilton was used to with his fellow draftmate.
The 100-yard game drought for Hilton now has spanned 13 straight games played, easily the longest stretch of his impressive career.
For Hilton to earn one more multi-year contract from the Colts, he must prove the injuries from the last two years aren’t the new norm, and his production can get back to being closer to that Pro Bowl level.
“My work speaks for itself,” Hilton says. “When I’m out there I know what I can do. But these last two years I’ve been a little banged up so this year, if they want me to prove it, I’ll prove it.”
The good news for Hilton entering Year 9 is the quarterback now throwing to him is (or should be) the second best QB he’s had in his career.
With Luck obviously being the best, the QB play for Hilton in 2020 is not Matt Hasselbeck (who had some decent success with Hilton), Charlie Whitehurst, Ryan Lindley, Josh Freeman, Scott Tolzien, Jacoby Brissett or Brian Hoyer.
Sure, 38-year-old Philip Rivers is not at the same level he once was, but Hilton is still pretty adamant that a big-time season is on the horizon.
“I think it could be special,” Hilton says. “I feel like the way I’m training, the way my body feels and Philip doing his thing, I feel like this can be an All-Pro year for me.”
Injuries forced Hilton to just 10 games played last season.
The combination of poor health and poor quarterback play contributed to Hilton recording career-lows in receiving yards per game (50.1) and yards per reception (11.1) last year.
It was such an un-Hilton like campaign, on the heels of his best friend retiring two weeks before the start of the regular season.
“I’m self-motivated, but that definitely did something to me,” Hilton said of having the most disappointing season of his career last year. “It added motivation to me. I missed a lot of games last year and that’s something that can’t happen because my teammates need me on the field.
“So I’m doing everything I can. I’m working out twice a day, just continuing to grind, continuing to get better and when it’s time for us to get back out there, everybody’s going to feel me.”
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