While Jerry Hughes wants to revise history, Kelvin Sheppard just wants to be a part of it.
The two linebackers traded places in April when the Colts shipped Hughes to Buffalo in exchange for Sheppard, and will be on opposite sidelines when the Colts host the Bills Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium.
They also have opposing views of playing for the Colts.
Unlike Hughes, a former first-round pick that never found a way to make much of a dent in Indy, Sheppard was a regular in the Bills’ defense, starting 25 games in two seasons, racking up 150 tackles.
Trades are relatively rare in the NFL, so Sheppard wasn’t quite sure what to think when he found out.
“It goes both ways,” said the 6-2, 256-pound inside linebacker from LSU. “One day I’m there, starting at middle linebacker and the next day you’re here. It’s exciting because I came to a very good organization and a very good team but at the same time it’s a very humbling experience, to say the least. Being somewhere and knowing at least in your mind that you thought you were their guy and then – boom – they call you up to the GM’s office.”
Sheppard is dueling with Kavell Conner, Justin Hickman and Josh McNary for the inside linebacker spot next to Jerrell Freeman. Presumed incumbent Pat Angerer missed most of last season with a foot injury and is on preseason PUP, so there is opportunity – not to mention plenty of competition — for substantial playing time.
“The competition has opened my eyes,” Sheppard said. “This is big-boy football, this is the real competition. You’ve got to go out there day-to-day-to-day, not just on Sunday.”
Hughes, who produced 62 tackles and five sacks in three seasons with the Colts, has decided to re-write his resume in Buffalo.
He told The Associated Press earlier this week that it was tough “not getting the opportunity to play” his first two seasons in Indianapolis but said he looked at it like “they really didn’t know what they have.”
Hughes had multiple chances to show something, anything, to the Colts. Franchises don’t bury first-round picks; they do everything in their power to put them in position to succeed. Hughes showed some encouraging signs when switched to outside linebacker in the 3-4 last year, recording four sacks in the first 10 games, but had none the rest of the season.Though he must fight for playing time after being at the top of the depth chart the past two seasons in Buffalo, Sheppard is ecstatic with his new situation.
“It’s perfect,” he said. “I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better situation. I’m talking about the top down, from the GM to the head coach to the defensive coordinator to my linebacker coach to my teammates.
“Everyone since the first day I stepped in those doors has treated me with the utmost respect – I’m talking guys from Reggie Wayne to Cory Redding to Robert Mathis, those guys I’ve been watching growing up. And the things this organization was built on and formed around, now I’m able to be a part of it.”
WHAT’S IN A NICKNAME?
Dwayne Allen has decided Andrew Luck needs a nickname, and has settled on “Meal Ticket.”
“If he doesn’t produce, none of us eats,” the second-year tight end said with a smile Tuesday. “It’s that simple. It started in the tight end room and we’re still pumping it. Not many other people are catching on because they don’t quite understand it.
“It was told to me yesterday Andrew doesn’t quite like the nickname; who likes their nickname? I’m not giving you a nickname because it’s something you like, it’s the first phrase that comes to my mind to describe you. And in Andrew’s case: meal ticket.”
Allen certainly doesn’t care for his own nickname: Chuckie.
“(The horror movie) Child’s Play was really big in ’91, my first birthday, they gave me a knife to cut a cake instead of cutting a cake I was chasing around a dog. It wasn’t really a good look, so they nicknamed me Chuckie,” Allen said. “Do I like it? No. But every time I hear someone say Chuck or Chuckie, my head turns.”
TUESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Instead of their usual afternoon session, the Colts will practice tonight in Macholtz Stadium at Anderson University. While not quite a dress rehearsal for their preseason opener or the prime-time games that lie ahead during the regular season, it will give the players an opportunity to shake up the routine.
“Anywhere those lights come on it’s time to play,” Allen said. “Guys get a little extra boost in the way they carry themselves. You’ll see them walking out to the field with a little oomph in their step and definitely whenever they get to running around, you can definitely feel it on the field, feel the energy and it comes from the lights.”
The players will have Wednesday off before returning to their normal two-a-day schedule Thursday.
“Any time we’re under the lights, you kind of get the hair on the back of your neck standing up a little bit, kind of get the jitters,” said Cory Redding. “It’s almost like Friday Night Lights football all over again, just going out there and playing in front of your crowd and just in a different element.”
TESTS NEGATIVE ON DHB’S KNEE
Coach Chuck Pagano said “all the tests (including an MRI) came back negative” on Darrius Heyward-Bey’s sprained left knee, “which is great for us.”
Pagano said DHB would be listed as day-to-day.
Freeman, who missed practice Monday with a sore shoulder, participated in the morning walk-through.
In addition to Heyward-Bey, injured players the fans may not see tonight include rookie offensive linemen Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes (both with ankle sprains), offensive lineman Joe Reitz (shoulder), linebackers Mario Harvey (hamstring) and Daniel Adongo (biceps), safety Sergio Brown (hamstring) and fullback Dan Moore (shoulder).