Now in his third NFL season, a move to outside linebacker and an opportunity for more playing time has sparked Colts 2010 first-round draft pick Jerry Hughes.





INDIANAPOLIS – It was a foreign move that Jerry Hughes did not see coming.

Just as Hughes was about to head into his third NFL season as a defensive end, he was about to endure a position change that he had never experienced before.

As injuries have taken a toll on the outside linebacker position this year, Hughes has made the most of his move the stand-up position in the Colts defense.

"It's quite the transition," Hughes said of his move to outside linebacker on Monday night's "Pagano Show," hosted by Bob Lamey.  

"We've had all spring to really work on it, and that's helped out a lot.  Once you get your vision right and know what you need to look at, it just goes back to playing backyard football."

Hughes is playing more than "backyard football" this season.  He has started three games this season in place of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

This past week against the Jets, Hughes finished second on the Colts with eight tackles and recorded his second sack of the season.  He was playing in place of Mathis, who injured a knee late in the victory over Green Bay on October 7.

"The new coaching staff is really giving me an opportunity to go out there and just get my feet wet," Hughes said.

"The game time experience will take you a long way, just going out there and getting comfortable with the guys you're playing with, and getting comfortable with the speed of the game."

With Freeney and Mathis resting during the preseason, Hughes saw extended playing time and made the most of it with three sacks.

That playing time has carried over into the regular season, and Hughes now has become a regular on a Colts defense riddled with injuries.

"Mr. Irsay brought us here for a reason, and that's to go out on the field perform," Hughes said. "At any given time someone can fall down with an injury, so you have to be ready to pick the ball up and keep it rolling."

Interim head coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians singled out Hughes for his performance against the Jets, and he is looking forward to the chance to combine the third-year pro's talent with the rehabbing Colts.

"We were really pleased with Jerry flipping from rush end to (strong side) backer and re-learning it in one week.  He did a heck of a job for us," Arians said.

"Knock on wood, when we do get healthy, I think we are going to have some depth with all these guys playing this much time."

During training camp, Hughes' teammates at linebacker were blown away by the athletic ability the he showed during positional drills.

Hughes has taken full advantage of his playing time in 2012, and he is ready to see the defense put together a complete effort in moving on from the loss to the Jets.

"We are getting ready for Cleveland right now.  We watched the film, and now it's in our rearview mirror," Hughes said of the Jets game.  "We are focusing on our next team and just trying to figure out a way to start a new winning streak and keep it rolling."

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