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INDIANAPOLIS – Any doubt that the Indianapolis Colts' season-opening win was more positive than negative was erased with the front-running topic of the week: whether wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is getting his fair share of passes.
Hilton was on the field for 24 of the Colts' 53 plays in the Colts' 21-17 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. He was targeted five times and caught three passes for 20 yards. His longest: 12 yards.
“Coming out of it, one of the first things we talked about was 'We've got to get him more plays, got to get him more touches,' ” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Again, you move the chains, create turnovers, do all those things. Our third, fourth, fifth possessions we just killed ourselves with miscues, with penalties. We want more plays. We're working to generate more plays.
“There are a lot of things that factor into that,” he continued. “We'll work to make sure that, again, you only have one football, so it's hard to spread the wealth. It's even harder when you only run 53-54 snaps.”
The Colts play the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, and the No.1 goal won't be to get Hilton more touches. That's way too much of an individualized idea for a team built on the one-for-all, all-for-one attitude.
But if the Colts can generate more offensive snaps – thus, more touches for everyone – then Hilton's numbers should automatically increase.
“We had 53 snaps, take out a couple of kneels. Fifty snaps in a game?” quarterback Andrew Luck said. “We threw 60 passes sometimes last year. It was the nature of the game. You won't hear (Hilton) complain, I know that. He's a phenomenal teammate, team player, and we trust our coaches. They know what's best.”
That said, Luck definitely wants to get a few more chances with Hilton. One of Luck's deep passes against the Raiders was intended for Hilton, but he was hit by a defensive back prior to reaching the pass. No penalty was called.
Luck threw only 23 passes, the lowest number of attempts in his short career. Despite Hilton's limited snaps Sunday, his five targets were second only to Reggie Wayne's eight. Wayne caught all eight for 96 yards. Darrius Heyward-Bey was targeted four times, catching three.
“I think T.Y. is always a priority,” Luck said. “He's so dynamic. You guys see it. Fans see it. We all see it. He's a phenomenal football player, whether it's returning punts, in the slot, out wide. He does everything so well. He'll continue to get lots of touches.”
The Colts had only seven possessions last week, not counting the final kneel-down. Pagano said he has no problem with continuing the 50-50 run-pass balance the team displayed, although he would like to have more possessions.
He said winning takes precedence over a specific style of play.
“As long as we move the chains and you can put points on the board, I really don't care about it to be honest with you,” Pagano said. “I think you've got to be able to – I'll say it until they run me out of here – you've got to be able to run the football. We took a few shots down the field last week. We missed them. We've got to hit those. We've got to hit our chunk plays.
“I think balance is important and that's one thing we thought we needed to do, ... have better balance. Certainly when you can run the ball, it takes a little heat off of your quarterback.”