<
>

Colts' T.Y. Hilton limping to his 'second home' in Houston

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, bum ankle and all, couldn't hold back his sly grin when talking about their playoff opponent this weekend.

"I'm going to my second home," Hilton said.

Hilton wasn't talking about playing in Indianapolis or in his hometown in Miami. He was referring to NRG Stadium in Houston.

The Colts, back in the playoffs for the first time since 2014, will play the Texans at NRG Stadium in a Wild Card playoff matchup Saturday (4:35 p.m., ESPN).

That stadium has legitimately been like a second home field for Hilton throughout his seven-year NFL career. He has 41 receptions for 932 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games played in Houston. In Hilton's last game in Houston -- Dec. 9 -- he had nine catches for 199 yards, including a 60-yard pass to get the Colts going in the second quarter.

"I don't know what it is, I just like playing in that stadium and now I get another chance at it," Hilton said Sunday after the Colts' 33-17 win against the Tennessee Titans to clinch the final playoff spot in the AFC.

How effective Hilton will be against the Texans is anybody's guess. It was on that 60-yard reception that Hilton first injured his ankle more than three weeks ago. He hasn't been healthy since, and likely won't be until at some point after the season. But he has played in every game since, missing only practice time to help try to ease the workload on his ankle.

To add to Hilton's ankle problems, he'll have one less day to rest it because the game will be played Saturday instead of Sunday this week.

"Every day of rest helps, so not having that is probably a small factor," Colts coach Frank Reich said.

Hilton said he aggravated his ankle on his first reception in Sunday's game against the Titans. He tried to turn quickly back toward the middle of the field before being tackled on his 18-yard gain.

"I'll be alright," Hilton said. "Short week, I don't have a choice, I'll be ready."

Hilton noticeably limped to the sideline after that play and missed a couple of snaps before returning to the game.

"I love T.Y. He's unbelievable," Reich said. "In the game [Sunday] after he had that first reception and long gain. The next series he's sitting off over on the bench and I kind of look back over at him. I just want to make eye contact with him to see how he's doing. I look back and I just kind of give him a look of 'Thumbs up or a thumbs down -- are you good, are you going?' He just looks at me with a smile and nods his head like he’s going."

Hilton finished with just two catches, his second lowest of the season, but he proved once again -- as he said earlier this season -- that his less than 100 percent is better than a lot of other receivers' 100 percent when he took a bubble screen and picked up 43 yards while basically running on one leg.

Toughing it out is the way Hilton will have to continue to play. His presence on the field causes defenses -- especially Houston's -- to respect the side of the field that he's on.

"It just gives me a comfort," Reich said. "Having him out there -- and I know he's not full speed. He's far from it. Who knows what percent he is, but I just know he's fighting for every rep and every catch he can make."