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In an ideal world, the Indianapolis Colts would be going into tonight’s divisional game against the Houston Texans with a completely healthy squad. Real-life, however, is far from the perfect scenario. While 11 players appeared on the Colts’ injury report, no name looms larger than receiver T.Y. Hilton.

The Indianapolis Colts will hope that T.Y. Hilton can suit up for Thursday Night Football.
Will T.Y. Hilton return to the Indianapolis Colts line-up tonight? (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

With the clock ticking towards game time, however, Hilton’s status is still up in the air. While the signs seem to be trending in the right direction, there are still some major questions about the receiver’s health.

T.Y. Hilton’s 2019 season

Following Andrew Luck’s retirement, T.Y. Hilton became the Indianapolis Colts’ key man on offense. Despite being sidelined for the past few weeks, the receiver hasn’t disappointed this season.

Hilton burst out of the gate, pulling in eight catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1; in Week 2, he only racked up 43 yards but found the end zone again. The receiver recorded another touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons, before struggling to make a mark against the Kansas City Chiefs. He scored again against the Texans and was stifled by the Denver Broncos passing defense. Hilton then injured himself in practice leading up to Week 9’s trip to Pittsburgh; he’s been inactive ever since.

While Zach Pascal has stepped up in Hilton’s absence, the veteran receiver is still central to the Colt’s plans. Despite playing four fewer games than his teammates, Hilton still leads the squad in reception, receiving touchdowns, and receiving yards per game; he’s also second in total targets and overall receiving yards.

The Colts’ big game against the Houston Texans

While every game in the NFL’s short season is important, Thursday night’s contest will take on vital importance.

As of now, both the Colts and the Texans would make the postseason; both clubs have identical 6-4 records, but the former team currently holds the head-to-head tiebreaker. If Indianapolis wins, they’ll tighten their grip on the divisional lead. A Houston victory, however, would change everything; not only would they take over the top spot in AFC South, but they’d assume control of the tiebreaking factors, too.

While it’s obvious to say that good players will help you win a game, T.Y. Hilton seems like the perfect player to terrorize the Texans. The receiver has called NRG Stadium his “second home” and his mere presence on the field would spread Houston’s weak pass defense even thinner.

Can T.Y. Hilton Play Tonight?

Coming into tonight’s game, the Colts have been non-committal about Hilton’s status. While head coach Frank Reich said the receiver has ramped up his rehab this week, there hasn’t been a confirmation one way or another.

Hilton, himself, seems optimistic but explained that his status isn’t entirely in his own hands. “If I check all the boxes – from me (and) how I feel, the doctors, the trainers, and Frank (Reich) and Chris (Ballard) have the last say so. So if I check all the boxes then I’ll go out there,” Hilton told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s a couple more. It’s about two more. The last two will be the say so.”

The receiver hasn’t taken part in any walkthroughs this week, but shouldn’t be seen as an indication that he won’t play. “I don’t need practice. It’s just how my body feels. When I feel good and all the boxes are checked then I’ll go,” he continued. “If three of the four boxes are checked then I’m not playing. All four have to be checked for me to play.”

When the Indianapolis Colts take the field tonight, they’ll hope those boxes are checked and T.Y. Hilton is in uniform. Their season could depend on it.