But during my recent visit to Colts camp, Polian stressed that rushers take some time to develop. Perhaps lowering expectations can help Hughes as he adjusts to the NFL.
And Indy’s got an alternative who fits their mold, looks pretty rugged and has been tested at the pro level already: former CFLer John Chick.
“He’s far, far ahead experience-wise of Jerry Hughes,” Polian said. “Dwight Freeney didn’t play for eight weeks in his rookie year. Bruce Smith took two years to really become a factor.
Polian likes to point out that anytime the Colts have had Freeney and Mathis healthy together through the playoffs, the team’s won the Super Bowl. Of course by “anytime,” he means “the only time” -- 2006.
“It’s obviously a critical position in our defense, so we have been searching for guys, plural, who can come in and spell them and back them up and be ready over the course of 19 or 20 games to be ready to rush at a high level. When we got and opportunity to get Chick we jumped at that. When we got the opportunity to get Hughes, we jumped at that. Hopefully it’ll pay off.”
Chick, 27, went to Utah State and was an undrafted free agent with Houston in 2006 but didn’t stick, then played for the Saskatchewan RoughRiders from 2007-09.
Chick said he feels like a fit with the Colts and is optimistic about his chances.
“The defense we ran up there was pretty crazy too, an untraditional attack but it seemed to work,” he said. “What I had been doing helped prepare me for what I am doing now quite a bit. They told me they need another end who can help rush the passer. It sounded exciting especially with a team the caliber of the Colts.
“It’s been very welcoming. They want the best guys to play. Their secret to success really isn’t that big a secret, they do things right… It’s not about who you are, what size you are or anything like that. It’s about how you can contribute. From what I saw they want to play their best players.”