NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks
Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

The Colts lost their top wide receiver before even setting foot on the field this year, with longtime veteran T.Y. Hilton landing on injured reserve with a neck injury just before Week 1. But they almost lost him for good. Back at practice this week, with an eye on making his 2021 debut in the next three weeks, the 31-year-old former Pro Bowler told reporters he almost retired after undergoing surgery in September, even consulting former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck about possibly stepping away from the game.

"The first two days (after surgery), when I got home, I almost hung it up, I can't even lie," Hilton said Thursday. "I didn't pretty much tell nobody but people close to me. I was close to hanging up."

The receiver went on to reference Luck, who famously and abruptly retired before the 2019 season at age 29.

"I talked to Andrew -- that's probably one wrong thing to do -- but me and him went out a couple times," Hilton said. "He just wanted me to be good with it: 'Get back healthy, don't rush it, take your time, and before you get back, make sure you talk to me.' He was (really) supportive ... Once I got over those two to three days, I started feeling better."

Now, Hilton says his return has brought an apparent energy to the Colts' locker room, with Indy coming off an overtime loss to the Ravens that dropped the team to 1-4, just ahead of the winless Jaguars in the AFC South.

"Just being back to practice, you could just see 'em, everybody just went crazy," he said. "Forget about Baltimore, let's just move on."

It's unclear when Hilton, who's already missed all five of the Colts' games this year, will officially return. Cleared to practice this week, he must be activated from injured reserve after three weeks or remain on IR for the rest of the season. He is no stranger to injuries as of late, missing six games in 2020 and another two in 2019.