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TEAMMATES INTRIGUED BY HUGHES

Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 21, 2012 – 4:12 pm

Not many questions stir up a reaction out of Colts safety Antoine Bethea.

But even the ever stoic Bethea cracked a bit of a smile on Tuesday afternoon when commenting on the play of outside linebacker Jerry Hughes this preseason.

“Jerry has an extreme amount of talent. Seeing him in this system, he’s just flourishing. He’s out there making plays, making sacks, dropping in coverage, making tackles,” Bethea said.

Those same sentiments echoed throughout the Colts locker room on Tuesday as teammates glowed when talking about the production that No. 92 has had in opposing backfields the past two weeks.

“With Jerry coming in and not having the success that he probably thought he would have early on, and for him to start getting that success now, it’s always good to see,” Powers said.

Hughes has seen significant playing time from his new outside linebacker position this preseason and has thrived in his new role.

He led the Colts with seven tackles on Sunday evening and upped his team-leading sack total to three.

“It’s helped my confidence a lot, tremendously,” Hughes said of the preseason. “First two years, I wasn’t really doing much of anything so even though it’s still the preseason, just going out there and helping the team win, going out there and playing with the guys is helping out.”

During his time at Texas Christian University, Hughes was a successful pass-rushing defensive end. Just like Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, the move to outside linebacker was a little foreign.

Seeing different sight lines is one of the major differences Hughes said of switching positions.

For Hughes, the on-the-field talent hasn’t gone anywhere, but it’s learning to become a complete NFL player that he is starting to figure out.

“Coming in from college, you get to get away with a lot more things, being a college player versus being a pro. Being a pro, it’s a 9-5 job,” Hughes said.

“You’ve got to come in early, you’ve got to put in extra work to get (fluent) with the film, get (fluent) with the playbook, things like that. Once you kind of get that down and you’re able to make that transition, things will come real smooth.”

Head coach Chuck Pagano has seen his fair share of standout outside linebackers during his days of working in 3-4 defenses. Pagano knows the physical talent is there for Hughes and the more comfortable he becomes in the system, the more he should be able to produce.

“I think he’s just flourishing right now doing the things we’re asking him to do,” Pagano said. “He’s getting better at playing the run and doing what it takes to set the edge and he’s got natural pass-rush ability.”


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