INDIANAPOLIS — T.Y. Hilton didn't have the easiest of seasons in 2018.
Starting early on, the seventh-year wide receiver's year was riddled with injuries. First, it was chest and hamstring injuries that cost him roughly 2 1/2 games. Later in the season, Hilton dealt with dual low and high sprains on the same ankle, but he persevered.
In fact, he felt as if he had no choice.
Although his ankle was in rough shape, Hilton knew the Indianapolis Colts’ remaining games were far too important for one of their main playmakers not to be on the field.
In large part because of Hilton’s drive and outstanding play, the Colts were able to claw their way back from a 1-5 start to the season to finish 10-6 and claim a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.
After what he viewed as a “down” season in 2017 in which he failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since his rookie season, nothing was going to get in Hilton’s way in 2018.
"I was glad coach (Frank Reich) gave me some time off during the week to let it heal,” Hilton told reporters Sunday while the team cleaned out its lockers on Sunday. “Like I said, I've got two injuries on one ankle — I've got a low and a high ankle sprain. It's tough, it's tough. I was able to deal with it and just be able to go out and give everything I have to the team."
Although hampered by his injuries, Hilton led the entire NFL in receiving yards over the final half of the season, averaging 114.6 receiving yards per game since Week 10. Not bad for a guy with an ankle that the team doctors told him would take a few months to get totally healed.
With the season now over, however, that's priority No. 1.
"Get healthy,” Hilton said about what’s next for him. “I just talked to doc; it's gonna take me a few months to get healthy, but I look forward to my recovery process. I'll finally get some time to rest. My ankle needs it. I've just gotta rest."
Hilton bounced back in 2018 to post 76 catches for 1,270 yards and six touchdowns — all numbers that bested his previous season’s and earned him the right to be a Pro Bowl alternate.
With quarterback Andrew Luck healthy and back under center after missing all of 2017, the dynamic duo with the unbreakable chemistry picked up right where they left off.
"T.Y. Hilton is a baller," Luck said. "What that guy has been through with his ankle injury and his ability to perform and a top level is special and I certainly love playing with (him)."
Luck’s return as well as an influx in talent and athleticism all over the roster helped lead the Colts to a result that not many people outside of the organization expected, especially after getting off to the kind of start that the team did.
"Coming from 1-5 and went on the tear that we went on, the sky is the limit for us,” Hilton said. “As long as we continue playing Colts football and play the way that we're supposed to play, we'll be a tough team to beat.
"What Chris (Ballard) and Frank has put together, they're putting together some guys that love football,” Hilton continued. “And as long as you're around guys that love football, you're gonna be a tough team."
Now that the 2018 season is in the rear-view mirror after the Colts' Divisional Round playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, the Colts are already looking ahead to 2019. For Hilton, he sees a bright future in store for the organization.
"We have a great foundation; we built something. We've got a legacy,” he said. “One thing about it is we continued to keep grinding no matter whether we was down or up. They sky's the limit for us."