IMPACTFUL PERFORMANCE

Jerry Hughes was one of many Colts who turned in a solid outing in the club’s 38-3 win over St. Louis on Sunday. Hughes made an impact with two sacks as Indianapolis kept St. Louis out of the end zone. Hughes was playing in the club’s new 3-4 hybrid defense.

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ANDERSON –Much of the talk defensively heading into Sunday's preseason opener with the Rams was how outside linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis would play in their new positions.

After the Pro Bowl tandem exited the game following two series on Sunday, it was the play of another outside linebacker that had everyone's attention.

Colts 2010 first-round draft pick Jerry Hughes had a pair of sacks against the Rams and finished the afternoon with four tackles.

The third-year pro has caught the eye of many of his defensive teammates throughout training camp, and he carried that out against St. Louis.

"Jerry is going to help us out a lot," nose tackle Antonio Johnson said.  "He's a young kid, and, of course, you know he has plenty of talent because he was a first-round guy.  It just takes everybody to buy into this system that Coach Pagano brought in."

It was evident on Sunday that Hughes has more than bought into his new role.

On his first sack, it was an untouched Hughes who drilled Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens for a six-yard loss to end the first quarter.

The sack proved to be crucial as the Colts would recover a fumble on the next play, the first of two takeaways for the defense on the afternoon.

Hughes once again found himself in Clemens' face midway through the second quarter when, on a third-and-nine from the Indianapolis 13, his speed rush went right by the Rams' right tackle.  The six-yard sack forced a St. Louis field goal.  Indianapolis maintained an 11-point lead to keep the margin greater than one score. 

After a little joking with the man next to him in the locker room, Mathis had nothing but praise for the talented TCU product.

"This defense really fits his skill set," Mathis said of Hughes.  "He's a guy that can move around, rush the passer.  He can just do a lot of things that you need defensively on your football team.

"I feel like (the coaches) put him in the right position to make plays and just to be that playmaker they drafted him to be."

While Hughes was causing havoc for the Rams from his outside linebacker position, on the other side Mario Addison was doing the same thing.

Addison led the Colts with three quarterback hurries as he and Hughes seem to be adjusting nicely from the defensive end positions they played previously.

The talk this offseason has been centered on Freeney and Mathis making the switch defensively but on Sunday, it was their backups who helped the defense hold the Rams to three points.

Still a young player with the Colts, Hughes admitted he feels like a rookie having to change positions but is ready to ride the momentum into the regular season.

"Everybody around here has a fresh start.  It's a new coach, new GM and we are just all trying to go out there and play hard," Hughes said.  "It felt good to just kind of get the season started off well.  Everyone went out there and executed, got better and now we need to see the film and see how we can improve in camp.

"I'm happy, but we're still learning.  This is all new for me and (Robert Mathis).  We've never played outside linebacker because we really are defensive ends.  Now, we are just learning and taking it day-by-day.  We've got great coaches.  They're always telling us what we need to do, helping us out.  We're just trying to get better."

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