Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is relentless in trying to build the back end of his 53-man roster.
Sure the glitz and the glamour of the starters dominate the headlines but it’s acquiring guys who might be out of football or searching for another opportunity to fulfill that dream that Grigson truly appreciates.
Robert Hughes fits that mold.
In less than two seasons, Hughes has bounced around four different practice squads.
The Colts were the fourth team he found after signing with Indianapolis on Oct. 9.
Hughes had been released from the Washington Redskins on Sept. 11 and was waiting for another call.
Little did Hughes know that come late October he would be called up to the Colts active roster and contributing for a team in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.
“It’s the fact that I get to go out there and help this team win,” Hughes said. “When you work hard and continue to fight for stuff like this, it’s good to kind of see things starting to fall into place.”
With the Colts rushing attack starting to develop the last four weeks, Hughes has been apart of that success from the fullback position.
During his days at the University of Notre Dame, Hughes was a tailback and found success in short yardage and goal line situations.
Did he ever think he would become an NFL fullback?
“Never did. Never crossed my mind,” Hughes said of moving to fullback. “But it’s an opportunity to be here in this league and it’s a privilege. You have to do whatever the coaches and your teammates ask you to do.”
Bruce Arians has never been a ‘fullback guy’ but likes the skillet that Hughes possess.
“I really like (Hughes) as a football player. He brings a bright, strong player who can play multiple positions and he’ll be a good special teams player,” Arians said.
“I see him more as a running back who can play fullback and gives us good quality depth. Big, power back and I didn’t really know he could do this job. He’s found a nice niche for himself. He’s got great hands. Again, he brings another receiver with some speed on the field. He’s not a traditional thud fullback.”
Hughes, who measures in at five-feet-11-inches and 235 pounds, made his NFL debut against the Dolphins and recorded his first career catch last Thursday against the Jaguars.
His contributions offensively have come mainly in short yardage situations while being paired in the backfield with 238-pound Delone Carter.
“He gets in there, puts is helmet on a defender and finds his way through the line to the defender very well. He’s very useful for us,” Carter said.
The use of a fullback is something that Colts fans haven’t been accustomed to as defensive players have tended to occupy that position for much of the past few seasons.
A running back turned fullback sits just fine with Hughes and his ability to impact the game in more ways than one is why Grigson and his staff brought him onto the active roster.
“It’s been a great opportunity,” Hughes said. “The more you can do in this league, the longer you can stay around. I’m just trying to do as much as possible and as much as the coaches can ask of me to do.”
Tags: bruce arians, Delone Carter, robert hughes
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Kyle Miller doesn’t have to look far to find a teammate that has been through the rigors of playing Division III football before finding a career in the NFL.
In 2006, Miller was about to embark on an All-American career at Mount Union, a perennial Division III contender, while eventual Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman was wrapping up another All-American career of his own at Mary-Hardin Baylor.
Although the two never shared the same playing field during college, they will be on the same sideline this weekend as Miller was called up to the Colts active roster on Monday afternoon.
“Being on the practice squad has been a blessing for sure but it’s hard standing on the sideline watching, while these guys go out there and play,” Miller said. “It’ll be a lot of fun to be out there with them and to experience what it’s really like to play in a regular season game.”
Miller entered the NFL in 2011 but did not make the Jacksonville Jaguars final 53-man roster after spending training camp with them.
The Colts signed Miller on April 3, and he is now apart of one of the youngest position groups in the NFL.
At the age of 24, Miller is the oldest of the group with Weslye Saunders (2 years of NFL experience, age 23), Dwayne Allen (rookie, age 22) and Coby Fleener (rookie, age 24) rounding out the tight end room for coach Alfredo Roberts.
“We are all on the same level so we are all learning together,” Miller said. “All of us had to work pretty hard to get everything down and we’ve all been in the film room together, just talking through things so it’s definitely helped.”
After spending the first 10 weeks of the 2012 regular season on the Colts practice squad, Miller will join his fellow tight ends in taking on the all too familiar New England Patriots this weekend.
“Any football fan is aware of the rivalry and I think it takes on a little more with us being a little bit of a surprise team and both of us having good records too,” Miller said.
Tags: alfredo roberts, Coby Fleener, dwayne allen, kyle miller, Weslye Saunders
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