By Quintin Harlan
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Like everyone else playing defense for the Indianapolis Colts this season, former first-round draft choice Jerry Hughes is having to make adjustments to a new system.
And like fellow former defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, Hughes is also learning the nuances of playing outside linebacker.
“Yeah, this is pretty much brand-new. In college I was a defensive end, so I don’t really know too much about dropping or reading coverages or anything like that, so this is a little bit of transition,” Hughes said. “But like I said, we’ve been up here since April. Everybody’s been up here working hard and we’re just trying to put in the work so it will pay off on Sundays.”
A fresh start at a new position may just be what the doctor ordered for the Colts’ No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL draft.
In his previous two seasons with the Colts, Hughes appeared in 24 games with one start and had a paltry 21 tackles and one quarterback sack.
“I don’t really focus so much on the past. The past is the past. I can’t fix it. I can’t change it. I just go ahead and just worry about the future,” Hughes said. “I got my mind set on this season and doing what it takes to kind of get the Colts back in the winning light like we’re used to.”
Some signs of Hughes turning the page in his career were evident in Sunday’s preseason opener.
In the 38-3 win over the St. Louis Rams, Hughes recorded two sacks in front of the home crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It did feel good (to record two sacks), but mainly we got the win. That’s what we kind of set out there for the team to do, so it’s important for us to kind of go out there and get that,” Hughes said. “I mean, yeah, I guess you could say that, but at the same time it’s football so there’s a lot more aspects of the game that I’m going to target on to just kind of get better.”
“He’s doing really well. Again, he’s a very athletic guy and there is a reason he was drafted where he was drafted,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said. “He’s learning the terminology, and I think once he fully grasps everything and what we’re doing with him, we’re going to be able to move him around and do some things with him because he is an athletic guy.”