T.Y. Hilton Much More Than Just A Burner

Intro: As the Colts head into Week Seven of the 2014 season, T.Y. Hilton ranks third in the NFL with 607 receiving yards. Hilton is also quietly moving up the ranks among the Colts best receivers in franchise history.

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INDIANAPOLIS – It's company that any young receiver would be honored to be mentioned among.

Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison are not only the class of receivers within the Colts franchise but they both could very well end up donning gold jackets in Canton.

So here's T.Y. Hilton, a former third-round pick with not ideal receiver size, putting up numbers that are even more eye raising than those from the Colts all-time leading pass catchers.

Yes, the NFL game now is a bit more pass-happy than when Harrison and Wayne first broke into the league but there's no denying the type of pressure that Hilton consistently puts on opposing defenses.

Hilton's speed has never been questioned.

But whenever you have a player with such elite burn ability, the worry becomes how effective of a route runner he can be and if his hands are reliable enough.

As Hilton moves into his third NFL season those questions are answered by his play on the field, resulting from off the field work he did back during his rookie season.

"T.Y. came here and I think he had a quad that kept him out for like two months in OTAs and he hung on, which just shows you the level of wisdom the kid has, he hung on Reggie's every word, kind of the way (Donte) Moncrief is now, which is so good to see. Here's Moncrief, he's smart enough to know, wait a second, I have a Hall of Famer standing right in front of me, I better pay attention to what he does. That's good common sense. T.Y. did the same thing," Ryan Grigson said earlier this month to NFL.com.

The hands for Hilton have been consistent, and have also provided Andrew Luck an option to look towards when the chains need to be moved (of Hilton's 40 receptions this year, 75 percent have gone for first downs, which is among the league's highest rates).

Hilton might stand just 5-9 but he can climb the ladder and win jump balls against defensive backs that are much bigger than No. 13.

When Grigson watches Hilton operate on the Colts practice field, the GM comes away more and more impressed by the completeness of the third-year receiver's game.

"(Hilton) has great hands. He really truly does," Grigson says.

"I was talking to a couple of guys last week on the sidelines. Even out of your periphery, sometimes you think that it's 87 catching the ball with the way (Hilton) frames the catch because I think Reggie frames the ball better than anyone I've ever seen. It's just almost an art form how he actually brings the ball in with his hands and you start seeing T.Y. making those catches but it's not by mistake. It's because he's basically learned at his feet (Wayne's) since the day he arrived and that's very wise of him to do. The sky's the limit for him."

Thanks to another career outing from Hilton last week (nine targets, nine catches, 223 yards) he ranks third in the NFL with 607 receiving yards this season.

When fans inquired this offseason about possible fantasy prospects on the Colts roster, the concern was how many targets a guy like Hilton would get with such a diverse and talented skill group.

He's gotten his fair share of looks though in 2014 and while each of Luck's targets provides a different dimension, Hilton continues to give defensive backs second thoughts when wanting to creep towards the line of scrimmage.

"Pep (Hamilton) and his staff have done a great job of game planning and scheming and trying to find ways obviously to get (Hilton) loose in the back end and to get him free and beat the different coverages that they anticipate and expect," Chuck Pagano says.

"He's playing at a high level. He's always played at a high level. I think from his rookie season, midway through his rookie season until now, he's been doing the same things. He's a playmaker, he's a game-wrecker."

A behind the scenes look at the Colts locker room celebration following the win over the Texans.

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