INDIANAPOLIS — “This offense is gonna be scary.”
The line was delivered with typical T.Y. Hilton casual confidence. His voice didn't rise, and he wasn't boasting.
As the 29-year-old wide receiver spoke from the podium Tuesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, he was just stating the facts as he sees them.
His conclusion might catch some people off guard. There weren't many flashy additions to that side of the ball this offseason.
Devin Funchess could be the No. 2 wide receiver and a big body to complement Hilton's speed. Second-round pick Parris Campbell could add another movable piece for head coach Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni to play with.
Most of the rest is based on continuity. All five starters return on the offensive line. Tight end Jack Doyle is expected back from his hip injury in time for training camp. And the whole offense is in its second year in this system. So everything should be crisper, smarter and faster.
“The offensive line, it starts with them, and they’ve done a tremendous job giving Andrew (Luck) time, giving the quarterback time,” Hilton said, “and then the running backs make it go and the tight ends and receivers. We’re just out there having fun.”
Hilton conveniently leaves out his own major role.
He played the final six weeks of last season — including the playoffs — with both a low and high ankle sprain on the same ankle. And he still put up eye-popping numbers as the Indianapolis Colts rallied to earn a postseason berth and win a wild-card game at Houston.
During that stretch, he caught 32 passes for 628 yards while missing almost every practice.
Game-planning meetings took place in the treatment room, as Hilton alternated stints in the hot and cold tubs and went through as many as six rehab sessions each day. Luck and the coaching staff would stop by, run over the plan for the week and trust Hilton would be ready to go on Sunday.
Somehow, he always was.
“It was a lot of pain, but I’m a team guy,” Hilton said. “My teammates needed me. So I was able to just miss practice and go out there on Sunday and just play and give everything I had. Coach Reich allowed me to do that, him and (general manager) Chris (Ballard). As long as I was out there, I was helping the team no matter what.”
So perhaps a healthy Hilton is the biggest reason to fear the Indianapolis offense in 2019. If he can average more than 100 yards per game essentially on one leg, what can he do in this scheme at 100 percent?
It's not a question Hilton is asking.
He's not setting any individual goals for this fall. But he knows the talent around him has been enhanced.
He raved about Funchess' physicality and the ways he can play off of that, and he's clearly a fan of Campbell — who ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash during the NFL Scouting Combine.
Entering his eighth NFL season, Hilton is excited to mentor the younger players and make sure they're on the right page.
He's also aware this will be a more difficult roster to make than it's been in the recent past, and he'll remind his teammates of that fact as well.
“There’s always competition,” Hilton said. “At the end of the year, you’re always looking at the health of the group. The rookie we just got — he’s fast. He’s athletic. He’s a guy that can run routes, got great hands, great after the catch.
“And there’s guys here that they gotta step up, gotta make plays. There’s gonna be competition wherever, at every spot. You gotta control what you can control and just go out there and play and just let you do what you do.”