INDIANAPOLIS — As far as gametime decisions go, they don't get much bigger for the Indianapolis Colts than T.Y. Hilton and Pierre Desir.
The team's top wide receiver and cornerback have both missed multiple games as they work their way back from their respective injuries, and with first place in the AFC South Division on the line Thursday night against the Houston Texans, both Hilton and Desir are champing at the bit to make their returns.
But facing a short week certainly doesn't help matters — for Hilton, Desir and a number of other Colts players currently on the injury report.
Hilton, who suffered a calf injury during what he characterized today as a "freak accident" during a non-contact portion of practice on Oct. 30, has missed the Colts' last three games. Head coach Frank Reich initially gave Hilton a three- to four-week recovery timetable, and Thursday night will mark 22 days since he suffered the injury.
Hilton said today "there's a couple more boxes" left for him to check before he can make his return; and if he _is_ able to go Thursday night against the Texans, Hilton will have done so without the luxury of practicing in the days leading up to the matchup.
Hilton, of course, has been absolutely dominant in his career in Houston. In seven career regular season games at NRG Stadium, he has averaged about six receptions for 133 yards and has scored seven total touchdowns. He's confident he could be just as productive if he's cleared within the next 48 hours, but certainly doesn't want to push it and risk further injury.
"I mean, I don't need practice. It's just how my body feels," Hilton said today. "If I feel good and all the boxes are checked, then I go. If three of the four boxes are checked, then I'm not playing. So all four have to be checked for me to play."
Desir, meanwhile, has been battling a nagging hamstring injury since Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Though he returned to that game and then played after the bye week against the Texans — he had seven tackles, an interception and two passes defensed in Indy's 30-23 victory at Lucas Oil Stadium — Desir has missed the last four games as he works his way back to 100 percent health.
So what's his status for Thursday?
"I'm taking day by day, just listening to the trainers, just trying to get myself mentally prepared, being in the playbook," Desir told reporters today. "It's gonna be a gametime decision.
Desir has missed several practices in recent weeks, but has been estimated as a limited participant in the Colts' two walkthrough sessions this week as they prepare for the Texans.
He said this week is no different than the previous month or so, when decisions being made about his playing status are made legitimately hours before kickoff.
"Yeah, it's been like that for a couple weeks; just testing it out, seeing where I am. But just making sure I'm comfortable to go out there," Desir said. "I don't wanna go out there and, you know, hurt the team. So just testing it, taking it day by day to see if I'm able to go out there."
If Desir is limited or ends up missing his fifth straight game on Thursday, then depending on his injury status, Rock Ya-Sin (ankle) or fellow rookie Marvell Tell III could earn that assignment out wide against Texans All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has 75 receptions for 745 yards and four touchdowns on the year.
Here's the full injury report from Tuesday's walkthrough, which is an estimation of a player's participation if there was a practice:
» DNP: TE Eric Ebron (ankle); WR T.Y. Hilton (calf); RB Marlon Mack (hand); CB Shakial Taylor (ankle); S Khari Willis (concussion); CB Rock Ya-Sin (ankle)
» Limited: TE Mo Alie-Cox (thumb); WR Parris Campbell (hand); CB Pierre Desir (hamstring); RB Jordan Wilkins (ankle)
» Full: T Anthony Castonzo (toe); S Clayton Geathers (not injury related; rest); S George Odum (shoulder)
— After having 11 players listed as "DNP" on Monday to start the week, the team saw a few players improve their status today, including Alie-Cox, Wilkins, Castonzo, Geathers and Odum.
— Mack and Willis have already been ruled out of Thursday's game against the Texans.