WESTFIELD, Ind. — Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton have been one of the best quarterback/wide receiver duos since both players entered the league back in 2012.
But after Luck missed the entire 2017 season, and then most of the on-field portion of this year’s offseason workout program, many wondered how long he would need to get back on track with his top receiver.
If the Indianapolis Colts’ first few training camp practices are any indication, however, the dangerous duo have picked up right where they left off to end the 2016 season.
It seems as though No. 12 has found No. 13 for big gains just about every day the two work together in 11-on-11 work, as Hilton continues to use his instincts to find holes in the Colts defense’s zones — and Luck, like clockwork, knows exactly where to find him.
“Just like when you wake up, you brush your teeth and wash your face,” Hilton said Wednesday when asked how he has been able to get back on the same page with Luck so quickly. “It’s easy for us.”
The Colts had envisioned this kind of connection back in 2012, when they picked Luck with the No. 1-overall selection in that year’s NFL Draft, and then took the speedy Hilton in the third round that year out of Florida International University.
Since that time, Hilton has been named to four Pro Bowls and led the league in receiving yards back in 2016. Luck, meanwhile, has been named to three Pro Bowls and was the league leader in passing touchdowns in 2014.
But after undergoing surgery to his throwing shoulder in January 2017 and then ultimately sitting out the entire season, Luck embarked on an intense rehab regimen that saw him take a fresh look at his mechanics from the ground up.
While the changes in Luck’s motion and footwork weren’t going to stick out to anybody beyond Luck himself and head coach Frank Reich — himself a longtime NFL quarterback — there was still questions about how long it would take Luck to get back into form once he was cleared for training camp practices.
But one thing Luck told Reich upon his hiring in February was that the last thing anybody should worry about his his connection with Hilton.
“I remember in the offseason Andrew saying a time or two on more than one occasion how much confidence he has in T.Y., and how he would say something like this: ‘Hey T.Y. might not always run the route exactly how you’re going to coach him to do it, but I promise you I know exactly what he’s doing and let’s just let it at that. Don’t over coach him. I know what he’s going to do,’” Reich told reporters on Wednesday. “There’s a fine line there. We are going to coach him, but I do understand there’s a unique relationship between those two guys.”
Reich said there aren’t many wide receivers he’s been around that can boast the feel and instincts that Hilton can.
“The guys that are smart like that and can play instinctive and understand spacing and leverage, they just know how to get open,” Reich said. “The body language thing works and Andrew (Luck) — they’re just completely in sync.”