From the moment he was drafted back in 2012 by the Indianapolis Colts, T.Y. Hilton has been a favorite target of whatever quarterback is throwing him the ball.
From Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck to Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers, Hilton has been the go-to guy for all of these former Colts’ signal-callers.
More often than not, these quarterbacks have seen great success when they get the ball into Hilton’s hands.
It will be no different this year, as Hilton will once again be a primary target of Colts starting quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz and Hilton worked out together multiple times this offseason before training camp and had begun to develop a nice chemistry with one another. That has been put on hold as Wentz remains sidelined after surgery on his left foot.
Enter Jacob Eason, who looks to be leading the competition for the starting quarterback position until Wentz can return. Hilton revealed on Tuesday that he had not caught any balls from Eason until after Wentz got hurt. However, the two have begun to learn each other’s tendencies and what each other likes on the field.
“Since he took over, just understanding the spots he needs me at,” Hilton said when asked about his work with Eason. “Just watching film, breaking down film – even in walk-thru we’re just talking, communicating. Even after the catches we’re just constantly communicating and that’s what you’re going to need.”
Eason played pretty well in his first game action on Sunday, going 15-of-21 for 183 yards in a half of action against the Carolina Panthers. He followed that up today with undoubtedly his strongest performance of training camp. Hilton has noticed the leap in confidence from the second-year player out of Washington.
“The game he really needed, getting a game under his belt,” Hilton said. “But he’s just putting in the work, he’s putting in the film, putting in time out here on the field and it’s just showing off. He’s doing great. He’s looking good.”
The reason Hilton has been such a favorite of his quarterbacks is because of his incredible football IQ. Hilton is a very savvy wide receiver and is among the best in the league at finding the soft spots in the defense. He also possesses good hands and solid route running ability which allows him to create separation and make throws easier for the quarterback.
All of these abilities are things that work to Eason’s advantage. As a young quarterback getting his first action in the NFL, Eason has quite a few things to digest in a short amount of time. Having receivers like Hilton to lean on helps make the job easier.
Eason and Hilton connected on five catches today during practice, as Hilton looked to be in midseason form. The chemistry that these two are forming will be crucial to the Colts’ success if Eason does end up starting games during the regular season.
“(Building chemistry) is going to take time,” Hilton explained. “But today was a good start, we’re in the right direction – just continue to build that trust with one another. I know the spots he wants me at, so just continue to build.”
While there are still questions surrounding the status of the quarterback position, one thing is certain: As long as he is wearing a blue and white uniform, Hilton will be a dependable receiver and a security blanket for whoever is lining up under center for the Colts.
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