INDIANAPOLIS — When Margus Hunt signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent back in March, he said he was excited to see how his game would translate as a defensive end in a 3-4 defensive scheme, as opposed to the 4-3 alignment utilized his first four years with the Cincinnati Bengals.
And after three-plus months of film study — and now a couple weeks doing actual on-field drills during Round 2 of organized team activities — Hunt said he's really starting to get a good sense of how he can best fit along the Colts' defensive line.
"It's been awesome," Hunt told reporters last week. "As soon as we started putting the install in and everything it's been closely similar to what I did in college for four years and a little bit mixed with what I did with Cincinnati for four years. The terminology is different but the principle of the entire defense, what we have going in, is still the same."
Hunt's journey to the NFL — and to football, period — has been unorthodox, to say the least. A native Estonian, he had never played any organized football before arriving to SMU, but after the school's track team disbanded, he joined the football team, which was happy to take on a guy of his size (he is currently listed at 6 foot 8 and weighs 295 pounds).
While a raw college prospect, Hunt would take some time to work on his skills along the defensive line, but he quickly developed a knack for blocking kicks on special teams. He would go on to block 17 kicks with the Mustangs — the second most in NCAA history — and his 10 blocks on field goals broke James Ferebee's NCAA record of eight blocked field goals set at New Mexico State from 1978-81.
The Cincinnati Bengals saw a ton of potential in Hunt and selected him in the second round (53rd overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft. While he would continue being a force on special teams — he led the NFL in 2016 by blocking two extra-point attempts and also swatting down a field goal — he has continued to take some time developing as a run stopper and pass rusher; he's played in 44 career games, starting none, and collected 26 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and three passes defensed in his four seasons in Cincinnati.
But, again, a switch to coordinator Ted Monachino's 3-4 defensive scheme could mean a world of difference to a guy like Hunt, who might not necessarily be in contention for an immediate starting job, but is certainly a major candidate to play some meaningful snaps as a backup along the defensive line, while continuing to play a prominent role on the Colts' special teams units.
"Like he said, it's a competition so that's what we try to do every day as we go out there and compete doing lifting, doing conditioning and right now it's just kind of going through the little details of what we put in in the install," Hunt said. "It's just getting the details figured out of what's going on within the defense. It'll be interesting."
That "he" Hunt is referring to is new Colts general manager Chris Ballard, who has re-tooled the team's defense with mostly younger pieces across the board; guys that have something to prove as they enter the primes of their careers.
That's an approach with which Hunt can certainly agree.
"It's awesome," he said. "Every day we've been working out it's great energy. Everybody is competing and just encouraging each other. It's been a lot of fun so far."
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