INDIANAPOLIS – Chuck Pagano wasn't kidding.
Nearing the end of the team's off-season program in May, Pagano went out of his way to single out the play of T.Y. Hilton.
"T.Y. is having as good an offseason as anybody, probably better than anybody right now," Pagano said in late May.*
"I've never seen this guy practice as fast as he's practicing right now and competing at the level he's competing at and leading the way that he's leading. He's done it day in and day out."*
What Hilton was showing in April and May has carried over to a career-year in 2016.
Hilton goes into Week 17 already having set career-highs in receptions (85) and yards (1,353).
In fact, Hilton's 1,353 receiving yards are the most in the NFL.
When Hilton was named to his third straight Pro Bowl last week, offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski detailed why his star wideout was once again among the game's elite.
"He's expanded what he can do on the field," Chud said of Hilton. "Again, for a guy that's been in the league for four or five years to improve the way he has – he's played down inside, proving he'll go in there, mix it up, make the tough catches.
"The thing about T.Y. that I've got to know is he's an extremely smart football player. He understands the game so well. So explaining things, talking through things, he sees the game well, sees it out on the field. But just his ability to go everywhere and do everything for us and he's expanding that because at one time earlier maybe in his career he was just the deep ball guy, but he's become a complete receiver in that way. Again, just making the crucial, critical catches for us. Sometimes the ugly catches, the ones a guy is draped all over him inside that may have only been a six-yard gain but got us a first down. I think those are the areas he's improved specifically on."
If Hilton wins the receiving title, he will join fellow Colts Reggie Wayne (2007), Marvin Harrison (2002 and 1999), Roger Carr (1976) and Raymond Berry (1960, 1959 and 1957) as past league receiving champs.
NFL's Leading Receivers Going into Week 17:
- T.Y. Hilton (1,353 yards)
- Odell Beckham (1,323 yards)
- Julio Jones (1,313 yards)
- Antonio Brown (1,284 yards)
- Mike Evans (1,256 yards)