Will Andrew Luck's absence hinder WR T.Y. Hilton?

When Andrew Luck will return to the field remains anyone's best guess. The Indianapolis Colts' star quarterback won't play in the season opener, and it sounds like he'll miss multiple weeks.

When teams lose Pro Bowl quarterbacks it has a domino effect on the rest of the offense. Receivers struggle to put up the same production and running backs find lanes closed by defenses unafraid of the backup quarterback.

With the Colts trotting out Scott Tolzien in Week 1, there's some concern receiver T.Y. Hilton, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2016 (1,448), will struggle out of the gate.

"I think we're still learning each other, still trying to figure each other out," Hilton said, via ESPN's Mike Wells. "The most important part is that we trust one another. The main thing for us is just learn the playbook, understand what Scott wants or whoever's back there and just be in the right spots. Just win."

As Wells points out, Hilton's yards per catch in 10 career games sans Luck remains the same as with the starting QB: 15.6 YPC. It's the rest of the production that dwindles. In 10 games with backup quarterbacks (Matt Hasselbeck 8 starts, Tolzien 1 start, Josh Freeman 1) over the past two years, Hilton's targets per game fall from 8.5 to 7.0. His receptions per contest go from almost 5 per game to 3.9. Hilton averages 77.2 yards per game and .4 TDs per contest with Luck. Without the starter, those numbers sink to 60.9 with 2 TDs in 10 games.

The stats aren't fall-off-the-world bad for Hilton. If Tolzien is forced to start the entire first month -- how quickly Jacoby Brissett can get up to speed remains to be seen -- the Colts will need the speedy Hilton to make plays. Given that Hilton's skill set is speed and route running, his production relies on chemistry with the quarterback and a passer willing to anticipate and trust the wideout to make a play on deep passes.

"I think we can do a lot of things," Hilton said. "[Tolzien's] a pro. He comes in and works hard, asks us what we see in the defense, asks all the right questions, and he goes out there and competes. So, for us, we just got to be able to make the plays for him, and we should be fine."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Purchase single game tickets for the 2022 season