Colts place T.Y. Hilton on active/NFI list and here’s what it means going forward

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The Indianapolis Colts placed T.Y. Hilton on the active/non-football injury list Sunday with a mild hamstring issue (per NFL Network). While it remains to be seen how long Hilton will be out, the four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver did have a season-ending calf injury in 2019 and the injuries have piled up over the last several seasons. Since Hilton is placed on the active/NFI list, he is prevented from practicing or playing until he is removed from the list. Hilton will need to be cleared from the list by the end of the preseason (in 2020’s case, training camp) in order to avoid going on the reserve/NFI list at the start of the year. The Colts can withhold part of Hilton’s salary while on NFI, but it’s rare NFL teams use this practice and not expected in this case.

The Active/NFI designation leaves the door open for Hilton to return to practice once he is medically cleared. If Hilton isn’t off the active/NFI list by the end of the preseason, the Colts will have to place him on the reserve/NFI and he will have to miss the first six weeks of the year. Based on his mild hamstring injury, it doesn’t appear Hilton will miss much time. 

Hilton, who missed more than two games in a season for the first time in his career in 2019 thanks to a leg quad strain and calf tear, averaged just 50.1 yards per game last season — which was the lowest in his career. Hilton led the NFL with 1,448 yards in 2016 and has recorded five 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He has 8,598 receiving yards and 45 touchdowns in eight seasons, averaging 15.6 yards per catch — which is eighth in the NFL (min. 200 catches). 

The Colts should be okay in Hilton’s absence, based on what they added at wide receiver this offseason. Indianapolis added Michael Pittman in the second round of the draft, giving Hilton another threat on the outside to free him down the field (when he’s healthy). Zach Pascal, who led the Colts with 607 yards and five touchdowns last season, will also be in the mix at wide receiver. 2019 second-round pick Parris Campbell, who played just seven games in his rookie season, is also expected to contribute in the slot. Marcus Johnson remains on the roster as a deep threat, a value field stretcher that provides depth on a suddenly talented group. 

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