Colts notes: Time off helps injured players

Colts optimistic about Jack Mewhort, Hugh Thornton and Darius Butler returning for Sunday's game against Bengals.

A weekend off evidently agreed with many of the Indianapolis Colts’ injured players.

Head coach Chuck Pagano said Monday rookie offensive left guard Jack Mewhort (ankle) was back at practice. Offensive right guard Hugh Thornton (back) and nickel cornerback Darius Butler (ankle) were expected to return Wednesday.

Mewhort has missed the last two games after suffering the injury in a Week 4 home win over Tennessee. Thornton and Butler suffered their injuries in a Week 5 home win over Baltimore and sat out the Colts’ 33-28 Thursday night victory at Houston.

Defensive tackle Arthur Jones, who has missed the last four games after being carted off with a high ankle sprain in Week 2, is close to returning, Pagano said.

“We’re hopeful,” Pagano said of Jones. “He’s as close as he’s ever been, so we’re hopeful that he’ll be able to get out there at least by Thursday; keeping our fingers crossed.”

The Colts (4-2) host Cincinnati (3-1-1) Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in a matchup of two of the AFC’s best teams. The Bengals are coming off a 37-37 tie against Carolina Sunday at Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium.

Hilton vows to improve

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton had a regular-season career-high 223 yards receiving on nine catches with one touchdown against the Texans, but says he made his share of mistakes, too.

“I think it was a good performance,” said Hilton, who leads the team with 40 catches for 604 yards. “I did some good things and I did some bad things. I’ve just got to work on my overall game.”

The third-year pro echoes his team’s level-headed mind-set about a four-game winning streak.

“Can’t get too high, can’t get too low,” he said. “We’re just on a roll right now and we’re trying to fix the things that we can correct and the good things, we’re trying to get better at them.”

Quarterback Andrew Luck was asked if he wasn’t surprised by Hilton’s monster game.

“No, you expect those big numbers out of him, you certainly do,” Luck said. “I think he’s earned that expectation from people.”

Ties aren’t forgotten

Pagano was asked what he thought about the Bengals’ tie against the Panthers. It brought back memories of his playing days, when he was a high school senior at Boulder Fairview (Col).

“We tied a championship game against Westminster, 6-6,” he said. “It was an ice bowl game. The field was frozen. They scored first, tried to kick the PAT and the guy fell on his rear. Then we scored late int he game, and our guy went out and did the same thing.

“Nobody knew the rules back then. We thought we were going to go to overtime in a state championship game. They just kind of blew the whistle and said that’s it. Everybody’s just kind of looking around going, ‘What the heck’s going on?’ They went to their busses. We went to our busses. We still got rings. But it’s, I don’t know, it’s like kissing your sister, right (laughs)?”

Colts still No. 1

The Colts’ offense continues to lead the NFL in points scored (31.5 per game), total yards (444 per game) and passing yards (328.7 per game).

Luck leads the league with 1,987 passing yards, 137 more than Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. And Luck’s 17 TDs passes are also an NFL best, two more than Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers.

Luck said a big part of his success has been utilizing the running backs in the pass game.

“I think it was sort of a natural evolution,” he said. “Coach Pep’s (Hamilton) always used every position in non-traditional ways, so for running backs to go out of the backfield and catch the ball is a big part of this offense, whether it’s check-downs or free release. I think both Trent (Richardson) and Ahmad (Bradshaw) have done a great job of that all year, and obviously Ahmad, what is it four touchdowns or five catching the ball now, which is great.”

Bradshaw has five touchdown receptions, which leads the team in scores.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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