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T.Y. Hilton Is Ravens' Next Challenge in a String of Game-Breaking Receivers

Posted Dec 21, 2017

The Ravens secondary will get its next test against Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, who is third in the NFL in average yards per catch. Baltimore’s cornerbacks have settled in after losing Jimmy Smith.

After the Ravens’ tough loss in Pittsburgh, it was still clear that Baltimore would be favorited in its final three regular-season games against the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals.

Win all three and the Ravens are guaranteed a playoff spot.

But this is the NFL; anything can happen. That’s especially the case when all three underdogs have a game-breaking wide receiver that can play the spoiler.

The Ravens did well in their first test against the Browns’ Josh Gordon, holding him to five catches for 47 yards. Up next is Indianapolis Colts wideout T.Y. Hilton, and Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is on deck.

This week, all eyes are on Hilton.

“Hilton is one of the best receivers in the league – has been for a while and still is,” Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. “Still a dynamic receiver, go-to guy, line him up everywhere, use him in all different ways.”

Last season, Hilton had a whopping 91 catches for 1,448 yards and six touchdowns. This year, he has 48 grabs for 852 yards and four touchdowns with starting quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) on the shelf all year.

But Hilton can still gash a team at any time. His 17.8 yards per catch is the highest of his career and ranks third in the NFL. He has six catches of 40 or more yards this season.

The 5-foot-9 speedster is a big play waiting to happen, and the Ravens know they need to keep a cap on him to snuff out the Colts’ chances Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium. The last time the Ravens and Colts met in 2014, Hilton posted nine catches for 90 yards.

“We’re having a good number of No. 1 wide receivers, and T.Y. is definitely one of them,” cornerback Marlon Humphrey said. “We need to try to eliminate him and some of their other guys. It’s going to be a big challenge.”

While the Colts’ weapons would be more dangerous if Luck were throwing to them instead of backup Jacoby Brissett, who Pees said has been playing more cautiously trying not to make a mistake, but the Colts can still make plays.

Jack Doyle has the second-most receptions among all NFL tight ends (71). The Colts also signed former Ravens wide out Kamar Aiken this offseason. Although he’s only posted 14 catches for 131 yards, he’ll surely be looking to have a big day in his first trip back to Baltimore.

“We have a huge game this week,” safety Eric Weddle said. “Our blinders are up. Our focus is up to an ultimate high.”

The Ravens have now played two-and-a-half games without cornerback Jimmy Smith. The second half against the Detroit Lions and the loss in Pittsburgh were not what Baltimore wanted in the secondary, but Pees said that Smith’s absence shouldn’t be the excuse.

With that said, Pees and Humphrey said the cornerbacks are feeling more comfortable now without Smith than they were a couple games ago. Not much has changed, other than the fact that it’s Humphrey and Brandon Carr outside without a rotation, but both players are feeling confident.

“Jimmy is a key piece of the secondary, so it took away the Jimmy Smith factor, but I think we’ve been able to get adjusted,” Humphrey said. “You’re missing a key piece and you have to re-figure out the scheme and things, and I think we’ve adjusted well.”

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