The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Pro Sports

August 10, 2013

Sheppard takes step back to move forward

ANDERSON, Ind. — Kelvin Sheppard's future begins Sunday with one more glimpse of his past.

The third-year inside linebacker will make his Indianapolis Colts debut against the Buffalo Bills at 1:30 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium.

A third-round pick out of LSU in 2011, Sheppard started 24 games in two seasons with the Bills. In April, he was dealt to Indy in exchange for former first-round pick Jerry Hughes.

Hughes made just seven starts in three seasons with the Colts, recording four of his five career sacks and six starts in 2012. He told Buffalo media last week he feels as though he's only played one year of professional football after sitting behind Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney for much of his first two seasons.

The former TCU star is listed at No. 2 on the Bills' depth chart behind all-pro defensive end Mario Williams, and he figures to see a lot of playing time against his former teammates.

So does Sheppard, who is competing for a starting spot at inside linebacker and could see considerable minutes with both Jerrell Freeman and Pat Angerer expected to sit out of the opener.

Unlike Hughes, however, Sheppard appears to bear few scars after changing NFL franchises for the first time. He's looking forward to seeing friends and former teammates from Buffalo, and he's smiling at the irony of debuting for his new team against his old team.

"It's very interesting," he said. "It's crazy how that all went down and how that happened."

But he doesn't have much time to reflect.

Freeman will start at one inside linebacker position when he's cleared from a shoulder injury, but the spot opposite him is very much up for grabs.

With 36 starts in three seasons for Indianapolis, Kavell Conner likely has the inside track. But Sheppard has been manning the spot with the first team in nickel packages, and the two defenders have shared snaps throughout training camp.

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