Former first-rounder Jerry Hughes trying to escape “bust” label

AP

Under the previous regime, Colts pass rusher Jerry Hughes was nothing short of a bust.

But thanks to a new general manager, a new coach and a new defense, the former first-round pick has a  new chance to prove himself a player.

“He sure looks like it to me,” new Colts GM Ryan Grigson told Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star. “I don’t know the Jerry Hughes people are down on.

“I saw him in college and really liked what I saw. The only exposure I have to Jerry Hughes has been all good, what I saw in college and here. He’s done everything [the coaches] have asked. He’s great in the [linebackers] room. He’s making strides every day.”

Hughes was the 31st overall pick in 2010, but since then, he’s only played in 24 games, with 15 tackles and one sack.

Because of the signing bonus that came with his rookie deal, he’d actually cost the Colts more against the salary cap to cut than keep, so they’re going to give him another shot.

The hope is that playing him as an outside linebacker in coach Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 system will better allow him to make plays than he did with his hand down in the 4-3. But Grigson was emphatic they wouldn’t judge him on what happened the last two years.

“Everyone on this team now, and from the day I came in, and with Chuck, truly, genuinely, 100 percent true, had a clean slate. Period. We don’t want to know anything about the past,” Grigson said. “That’s everybody, players, employees, everybody in this building. I don’t want to hear anything about before. I want everybody to believe what I said: this is about moving forward. It’s a new era.”

While former Colts boss Bill Polian is well-regarded for a reason, some of his latter drafts with the Colts leave much to be desired. Burning high picks on under-performers such as Hughes, Anthony Gonzalez and Tony Ugoh takes some of the shine off an otherwise excellent resume.