T.Y. Hilton was back at practice on Wednesday for the first time since late August, and the veteran wide receiver's return to the grass was a welcome boost to kick off preparations for the Houston Texans on Sunday.
"It's exciting for me, it's exciting for the whole team," quarterback Carson Wentz said. "We all know and everybody knows the kind of player he is on the field, but even more-so in the locker room, who he is as a leader. Guys rally around him. Seeing him in the huddle even just in the walkthrough today got me a little excited."
Head coach Frank Reich said he and the Colts learned Hilton was "ahead of schedule" on Tuesday and now have three weeks to activate him off injured reserve. Hilton underwent neck surgery before the regular season began and was placed on injured reserve Sept. 2.
"Certainly excited to have T.Y. back and in the fold and out on the field," Reich said. "That's a big emotional boost to the team."
Hilton is 640 receiving yards shy of 10,000 in his career and has 50 touchdowns in 133 games over nine seasons with the Colts. But his on-field play is matched off the field by his leadership in the Colts' locker room – which helps explain just how significant a jolt the Colts got from his return to practice this week.
"T.Y.'s a dog," defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said. "His presence, his leadership is always great to have in the locker room and on the field. To see him be able to practice this week after the surgery he's had and everything, it's going to be fun to get the Ghost back out there.
"... His presence in the locker room, he's a guy who leads by great example. When there's times somebody needs to step up and speak, he's one of those guys. Having the experience that he has and to keep it going as long as he's been in the league playing at a high level. Having a guy like that in the locker room is big and crucial for a team."
Wednesday's practice report
Defensive end Isaac Rochell (illness) practiced fully on Wednesday as well.