1 - How Colts trade catapulted Hughes' career
Bills defensive end, Jerry Hughes, will face his former team on Sunday. He was traded to Buffalo in 2013 after spending three seasons in Indianapolis. The former first-round pick hasn't looked back since.
The Colts selected Hughes with the 31st overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. He would go on to play three seasons with their organization. In his first three years in the league, he played in 40 games and got seven starts. Hughes tallied 31 tackles and five sacks while in Indianapolis.
The Bills acquired Hughes in exchange for LB Kelvin Sheppard. At the time, the transaction was viewed as minor. Now in his fourth season in Buffalo, it's looking more like a major move.
Hughes has played in 76 games and started in 60 since joining the Bills. It's safe to say his production is overwhelmingly better than it was with the Colts. He's racked up 154 tackles, 34 sacks, and nine forced fumbles in a Bills uniform.
In his first two years (2013-2014) in Buffalo, he recorded back-to-back 10-sack seasons. Hughes is only one of four Bills players all-time to accomplish that feat. He joins: Mario Williams (2012-2014), Aaron Schobel (2005-2006), and Bruce Smith (1986-1990, 1992-1998).
Hughes has faced the Colts once since his departure. That matchup came in 2015 and the Bills prevailed 27-14. He notched four tackles in that game against his former team. Sunday will be Hughes' second showing against Indianapolis.
"I'm just excited to go out and play football against them on Sunday," said Hughes. "I understand we're 6-6 and have to get to the playoffs. It's just the next opponent who's up."
Relive memorable Bills versus Colts games throughout the years.
2 - Indianapolis HC praises McCoy's personality and play
After almost a decade in the NFL, Bills RB LeSean McCoy has earned respect throughout the league. Colts head coach, Chuck Pagano, is no exception.
McCoy's earned five trips to the Pro Bowl in his nine-year career. Pagano was privileged with a front-row seat during one of McCoy's trips.
"Shady [McCoy] looks like he's 22 running out there. He's amazing," said Pagano. "We have great respect for Shady and what he's done in his career. I was fortunate one year coaching the Pro Bowl and had him on our squad. What a great young man."
McCoy made his Bills debut in Week One of the 2015 season. That game coincidentally came against the Colts. He nearly reached 100 yards from scrimmage and aided Buffalo in their 27-14 win. McCoy finished the game with 17 rushes for 41 yards and three receptions for 46 yards.
Pagano's been the HC in Indianapolis since 2012, holding a record of 0-2 when facing McCoy. He's more than familiar with the difficulties of defending the All-Pro RB.
"He's a great player. He's a mismatch. He's a pain the rear. He's running and playing at a high level," Pagano said. "Leading receiver on the team, over 800 yards rushing, over 1,100 yards from scrimmage. He's dangerous. We're going to have to be at our very best to contain him and slow him down."
3 - Special teams positive spark this season
Buffalo's special teams have held their own in that phase of the game this season. The unit, made up of new and old faces, is ranked top-ten in the NFL.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Bills special teams ranks eighth in the league through Week 13. Eric Eager of PFF explained what's attributed to their success.
*Free-agent acquisition Stephen Hauschka is our second-highest graded kicker through the league's first 13 weeks, and his average starting field position of 23.6 allowed on kickoffs provides value to a Bills team still in the thick of the AFC playoff race. *
*Hauschka, who's in his first year in Buffalo, has been flawless all season. He's nailed the most 50-plus yard field goals (7) on the year. Additionally, he's just one of eight kickers who're perfect on extra points. *
*Punter, Colton Schmidt, has been reliable in his fourth year with the team. His net punting average of 41.3 yards ranks 11th in the league. One of his notable traits is the ability to take away the opposing teams return man. Schmidt averages 4.6 return yards on punts, ranking second in the league. *
*Second-year Bill, Brandon Tate, has done well in the return game. On punts, his average of 10.4 yards per return ranks sixth in the league. On kickoffs, his average of 21.3 yards per return ranks 11th in the league. *
Special teams coordinator, Danny Crossman, is doing a phenomenal job with his group. They'll look to continue their positive play in pursuit of a playoff push.
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