INDIANAPOLIS – T.Y. Hilton’s first appearance of the season will come in front of a friendly audience and a familiar opponent.
The Indianapolis Colts’ veteran receiver has been added to the active roster for Sunday’s meeting with the Houston Texans at what should be a receptive Lucas Oil Stadium. To make room for Hilton on the active roster, the team placed placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship (right hip) on the inured reserve list.
Hilton returned to practice this week after missing the first five games following surgery in late August to address a disc injury in his neck. He was designated for a return to practice this week, then checked off all the necessary boxes to embark on his 10th season with the team.
Friday, coach Frank Reich said Hilton “looked good’’ in practice, but added, “we need to see how he comes out of this practice. I feel good about where he’s at. I just want to check with him (Saturday).
“I’m cautiously optimistic.’’
Earlier in the week, Hilton emphasized the importance of going through practice. Players on the injured reserve list are not allowed to practice with the team.
“I’ve got to practice,’’ he said. “That’s up to the docs. I’ve got to get my legs back under me. Gotta pass some tests.’’
Any doubt regarding Hilton’s readiness was dismissed Saturday.
Hilton joins a team attempting to salvage its season. The Colts take a 1-4 record into the Texans game.
No one expects Hilton to be in midseason form Sunday, but he nonetheless should make an impact.
Remember, he’s making his debut against the Texans. In 18 regular-season meetings with Houston, Hilton has 97 receptions for 1,718 yards and 11 touchdowns. He’s produced eight 100-yard games, including a career-best 223 yards on nine catches in week 6 of 2014.
Hilton’s return, noted Reich, “opens it up for everybody. Everybody knows we like to spread it around. If T.Y.’s playing, everybody knows we’re going to try and get him the ball.
“He’s a playmaker and we know what he brings to our team.’’
Hilton has established himself as one of the most prolific receivers in franchise history. He ranks third in yards (9,360), fourth in receptions (608) fifth in touchdowns (50).
“Everybody knows when 13’s out there, we’re a different team,’’ Hilton said.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.