INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts will be without one of their top playmakers for the next few weeks.
Head coach Frank Reich announced today that No. 1 wide receiver T.Y. Hilton suffered a calf injury during Wednesday’s practice that is initially expected to keep him sidelined about three or four weeks, starting with Sunday’s Week 9 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.
Reich is optimistic Hilton could return sooner than expected, but for now the Colts — whose No. 2 wide receiver, Devin Funchess, remains on injured reserve — will continue leaning on their depth at the position.
“You never know — everybody responds differently,” Reich said. “So we’ll see how it goes from there.”
Reich said Hilton suffered the injury Wednesday in a non-contact portion of practice. As of now, the team is not anticipating Hilton’s calf will require surgery, nor does it believe he will be placed on IR.
Hilton’s absence immediately creates opportunities for the team’s five other wide receivers — Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers, Parris Campbell, Deon Cain and Ashton Dulin.
Reich said he’s “not only confident” in the ability of those players to step up, but he’s “excited” about what he believes they’ll bring to the table.
“We’re obviously losing a great player, but I’m really excited for our guys,” Reich said. “We’ve seen it; we’ve seen Zach step up, Parris is now healthy, he’ll get some more reps, it’s probable that Deon will be up, we’ll get him back in the mix. So to take a spot from T.Y., it’s kind of by-committee; we’ll spread it around.
“I’m excited for these guys. I mean, I really am. I’m genuinely excited,” Reich continued. “And we know T.Y.’s T.Y.; he’ll heal as fast as anybody can possibly heal, and then we’ll get him ready to go.”
The Colts (5-2) do have recent experience to draw upon as it pertains to being without Hilton, who missed the team’s Week 4 game against the Oakland Raiders with a quad injury.
But Reich and the Colts’ offense also had to go without Hilton for a two-game stretch last season, when he missed Indy’s Week 5 and 6 contests and the New England Patriots and New York Jets as he worked his way back from chest and hamstring injuries.
In both instances, Reich learned just how difficult it can be to try to replace Hilton’s production; the Colts have gone 0-3 in games without Hilton the last two seasons, and 0-5 without Hilton overall since he was selected by the team in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
But the No. 1 takeaway Reich wanted to get across to the remaining receivers is that they don’t have to try to be something they’re not with Hilton out of the lineup.
What he does expect is a collective effort from the group.
“What you learn is it’s a great opportunity. You learn that you’ve got depth on your roster — you’ve got confidence in your players, and they’ve gotta step up,” Reich said. “And nobody has to press. That’s the good thing: nobody has to press, nobody has to come in and try to be the hero in his absence. You’ve just gotta play good football, and I think that’s what we learned last year.”