NFL Nation: Montori Hughes

Examining the Indianapolis Colts' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
This is the safest position on the roster for the Colts. They plan to always keep a veteran backup if Luck ever goes down with an injury.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

The Colts will have a solid running combination if -- and we’re saying if until proven wrong -- Richardson can bounce back from a poor first season in Indianapolis and Bradshaw and Ballard can stay injury-free. Havili, a fullback, gets the edge over Mario Harvey, who switched from linebacker to fullback during offseason workouts.

RECEIVERS (5)

The final receiver spot will come down to Rogers and Griff Whalen. If the Colts want to play it safe, Whalen is the guy because he’s familiar with Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, but Rogers has the size and speed the team likes. There’s also the possibility of the Colts keeping six receivers.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

Allen, who missed all but one game in 2013, and Fleener have the potential to be one of the top tight end duos in the league. Doyle and Saunders are both familiar with the system after backing up Fleener in Allen’s absence last season.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There are plenty of questions surrounding the offensive line outside of tackles Castonzo and Cherilus. The one thing general manager Ryan Grigson wanted with this group is depth. The Colts have plenty of it.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)

Like the offensive line, the Colts want depth on the defensive line so they can constantly rotate in players, so come the fourth quarter they still have fresh legs to get after the opponent. Jones was the key offseason acquisition for the Colts. Chapman showed flashes last season; now he needs to do it every snap that he’s on the field.

LINEBACKERS (10)

All eyes will be on outside linebacker as the Colts look to find a replacement for Mathis, who is suspended for the first four games of the season. Werner gets the first crack at starting in Mathis’ spot. McNary is a player for whom Grigson has high expectations. It’ll be up to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on how he uses McNary.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)

It’s anybody’s guess how the secondary will perform. It’s anybody’s guess who will start alongside Landry at safety. It looked like it would be Howell for most of the offseason, but the Colts signed the veteran Adams in June. Can Toler finally remain healthy? Can Davis live up to his contract? So many questions with no answers at the moment.

SPECIALIST

This only changes if an injury occurs.
INDIANAPOLIS – New Indianapolis Colts defensive lineman Arthur Jones didn’t want to reveal too much when asked about if he would be playing more defensive tackle than end next season.

Jones
Jones
Colts coach Chuck Pagano answered the question during the NFL owners meetings earlier this week.

Well, sort of.

“I’m not going to pigeonhole by saying he’s an inside guy or an outside guy,” Pagano said. “He brings position flexibility to our front. He’s a sub-rusher on third down. He can give you inside push, he can beat guys one-on-one. He has sack numbers for an inside guy.”

Pagano was Jones’ defensive coordinator during his rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens in 2011. Jones went from having 20 tackles and zero sacks his rookie season to having 53 tackles and four sacks last season, and now he’ll try to be just as effective in Indianapolis.

“He’s really matured as a young man,” Pagano said. “He knows our scheme. Terminology won’t be an issue. It’ll be a seamless transition for us.”

Pagano’s goal is to have a defensive front that has players who can play multiple positions so that they can constantly rotate them in so in the fourth quarter they’ll still be relatively fresh. Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois, who missed part of last season with a foot injury, can play on the end.

The Colts were abysmal at stopping the run last season, finishing 26th in the league in that category, and linebacker Robert Mathis had 19.5 of their 42 sacks.

“You can never have enough defensive linemen,” Pagano said. “We roll those guys all the time and try to keep them fresh. If you can play with six, seven guys in the defensive front by the time fourth quarter comes around and everybody is still fresh, it’s going to play to your advantage.”

The Colts currently have seven defensive linemen on the roster: Montori Hughes, Ricky Jean Francois, Arthur Jones, Fili Moala, Jeris Pendleton, Cory Redding, and Josh Chapman.
INDIANAPOLIS – The offensive line is playing well. The same goes for the defense. And now the Indianapolis Colts may finally be getting healthy. It’s coming at a good time, too, with the playoffs less than two weeks away.

Coach Chuck Pagano had a lot of positive information when he talked about the long list of players dealing with injuries during his news conference on Monday.

The MRI on defensive lineman Cory Redding’s shoulder came back negative. He missed part of the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs after injuring it while trying to make a diving tackle on running back Jamaal Charles. Redding may not practice on Tuesday, but the Colts are hopeful that he’ll be able to go on Thursday.

Safety Sergio Brown (groin), linebacker Daniel Adongo (hamstring), defensive tackle Montori Hughes (knee), guard Hugh Thornton (neck) and guard Jeff Linkenbach (quad) could all return to practice this season. Offensive lineman Joe Reitz has been cleared to practice after passing an impact concussion test. He has to pass one more concussion protocol before being cleared to play in a game.

It’ll be interesting to see what Pagano does with the offensive line if everybody is healthy. The Colts have started five different lineups on the offensive line in the past five games and seven overall this season.

The Colts wrap up the regular season against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton believes it'll take a lot for him not to be on the field Sunday when they play the Kansas City Chiefs.

Hilton
The second-year receiver is questionable for the game with a shoulder injury. He orginally hurt it Nov. 24 against the Arizona Cardinals.

"I was completely healthy at this point last season, so that's the part that's not good," Hilton said. "It's one of those things that I have to play through. We still have something to play for."

The Colts, who are keeping their hopes alive to get to the No. 2 seed, could have a thin roster against the Chiefs.

Defensive tackle, Ricky Jean Francois (foot), offensive line Jeff Linkenbach (quad), safety Sergio Brown (groin), offensive lineman Joe Reitz (concussion) and defensive tackle Montori Hughes (knee) are all doubtful.

Linebacker Daniel Adongo (hamstring), guard Hugh Thornton (neck) and cornerback Greg Toler (groin) are questionable. Toler practiced Wednesday but was held out of practice Thursday as a precaution.

Here's what the Colts' offensive line could look like Sunday because of all their injuries at that position: Samson Satele at center, Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus at tackle and Xavier Nixon and Mike McGlynn at guard. Rookie Khaled Holmes will be the only backup if Thornton doesn't play.

"We're in great shape, awesome," Colts coach Chuck Pagano sarcastically said. "It's like everybody else. We're not the only one that's pregnant right now. We got what we got and we have a job to do and we're going to get it done."

T.Y. Hilton, Greg Toler miss practice

December, 19, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts cornerback Greg Toler had appeared to turn the corner when he took part in a full practice for the first time in two months Wednesday.

But it was also noted that people shouldn’t get excited, because how Toler responded from the practice would be key.

A sign of things to come occurred when Toler wasn’t on the field during the media portion of practice on Thursday. It became official a couple of hours later when the Colts released their practice report and the letters “DNP” were by Toler’s name, meaning he did not practice.

A better indication for Toler’s status for Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs will occur Friday when coach Chuck Pagano addresses the media. But not having Toler practice on back-to-back days can’t be a good thing, especially since he hasn’t played since Oct. 20.

So the wait could possibly continue for another week with Toler.

Another eye-catching “DNP” was receiver T.Y. Hilton because of a shoulder problem. He originally injured his shoulder against Arizona on Nov. 24. Hilton had a career-high eight receptions against Houston last weekend.

Here’s the rest of Thursday’s practice report

Did Not Practice

LB Daniel Adongo: Hamstring

S Sergio Brown: Groin

DT Montori Hughes: Knee

DT Ricky Jean Francois: Foot

OL Jeff Linkenbach: Quad

OL Joe Reitz: Concussion

OL Hugh Thornton: Neck

Full Practice

OL Samson Satele: Elbow

FB Stanley Havili: Knee

Toler, Brown participate in practice

December, 18, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Maybe this is the week that Indianapolis Colts cornerback Greg Toler finally returns from his groin injury.

Toler
Toler went through a full practice for the first time Wednesday since before injuring his groin in the second half of the Oct. 20 game against the Denver Broncos.

I wouldn't grab a permanent marker and write Toler's name into the starting cornerback spot opposite of Vontae Davis for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

How Toler responds after going through his first full practice in about two months is key. He said last week that he didn't plan to return to the lineup until he was 100 percent healthy. Toler was limited in practice on Dec. 11 then didn't practice the following two days.

Running back Donald Brown and receiver LaVon Brazill were also full participants in practice Wednesday. Brown missed the second half of Sunday's game with the Houston Texans with a stinger. Brazill missed the game with a bruised foot.

Here's a rundown of the rest of Colts' practice report:

Did not practice:
LB Daniel Adongo: Hamstring
S Sergio Brown: Groin
FB Stanley Havili: Knee
DT Montori Hughes: Knee
DT Ricky Jean Francois: Foot
OL Jeff Linkenbach: Quad
LB Robert Mathis: Rest
OL Joe Reitz: Concussion
OL Hugh Thornton: Neck

Limited practice:
OL Samson Satele: Elbow
When the Colts activated linebacker Josh McNary from their reserve/military list to the 90-man active roster, they waived linebacker C.O. Prime to make room.

But later Tuesday they rescinded the waiver request on Prime, keeping him on their 90-man roster and instead put defensive tackle Brandon McKinney on injured-reserve.

It’s not yet clear if this is a result of the same knee injury suffered in camp last year, when he suffered a torn ACL.

McKinney has not practiced since the team started camp on Sunday.

McKinney got a two-year, $2 million contract from the Colts in 2012. He was one of two defensive veterans the Colts brought over from the defense Chuck Pagano coordinated in Baltimore before he was hired to replace Jim Caldwell. Safety Tom Zbikowski was released after the team signed LaRon Landry in free agency. Now McKinney is also gone, and it appears unlikely he will ever play a game for Indianapolis.

The team is reasonably deep in the interior line now, and will miss him less than it did last season, when he could have been the primary nose tackle. Now Josh Chapman looks to be the leaders for the most time, and veteran Aubrayo Franklin can be a run-stuffer. Martin Tevaseu is also listed as a nose tackle.

Ricky Jean Francois and rookie Montori Hughes will also be equipped to play inside in certain situations.
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Who is one highly drafted or highly paid player from each AFC South team who needs to show something during the remainder of the offseason?

Houston Texans: I can’t find a highly paid or highly drafted player who could be in jeopardy. Shiloh Keo was a fifth-round draft pick in 2011 and ranked as a Wade Phillips favorite. Keo played in every game last year, even seeing time as the often-used third safety when Quintin Demps fell out of favor. But Keo is limited, primarily because he’s slow. The Texans replaced Glover Quin with Ed Reed, which doesn’t really affect the bottom of the safety depth chart. Demps is an unsigned free agent who won’t be back. Second-round pick D.J. Swearinger will be the third safety. Keo and Eddie Pleasant are the fourth and fifth safeties now, and the team had five on the roster at the end of last season. But a good player at the back end of another position could prompt them to keep just four, which could put the limited Keo in jeopardy if he doesn’t perform well in camp.

Indianapolis Colts: A team that didn’t have a true nose tackle option last season because of injuries and personnel deficiencies will have a glut this summer if everyone remains healthy. Now they have Aubrayo Franklin and 2012 fifth-rounder Josh Chapman, who’s back from the knee injury that kept him out last year. They also have new fifth-round draft pick Montori Hughes as well as Ricky Jean Francois, a versatile lineman who can man the middle on occasion. I don’t expect Martin Tevaseu to stick, and if the rest of that pack remains healthy, one player who will need to have a solid camp to make his case to stay is Brandon McKinney, who’s due $1 million this year. Brought in as a free agent from Baltimore last year, he too is coming off a serious knee injury. He’s expected to be ready for camp but could have already lost some ground in organized team activities and minicamp.

Jacksonville Jaguars: While the Texans don’t have a highly paid or highly drafted veteran who could be in trouble because they have drafted well and their roster is solid, the Jaguars don’t really have one because they are young and largely unproven. They already parted with an expensive guy who wasn’t worth his contract in strong safety Dawan Landry. Tight and Marcedes Lewis ($4.2 million base this year) and defensive tackle Tyson Alualu ($1.8 million) are overpaid based on recent production, but the Jaguars have money and don’t have promising replacements for either.

Tennessee Titans: I don’t think right tackle David Stewart is in jeopardy. But he’s coming off a down year when he committed too many penalties, is recovering from a broken leg, has an ankle that seems to be a lingering concern and is due a $5 million base salary. I’m not sure Mike Otto or Byron Stingily, the team’s two primary backup tackles, are starting-caliber guys. But the team did visit with free agent Eric Winston, who worked with offensive line coach Bruce Matthews in Houston. If Winston remains on the market and Stewart doesn’t look ready to bounce back, perhaps the Titans would still consider adding Winston and allowing him to slug it out with Stewart. That could be an epic battle.

AFC South draft analysis

April, 27, 2013
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NFC draft analysis: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


The AFC South’s two 3-4 teams spent first-, third- and fourth-round picks on pass-rushing outside linebackers, trying to amp up the pressure they can put on opposing quarterbacks.

The Colts will be converting first-rounder Bjoern Werner of Florida State from a college defensive end to an outside linebacker, where he probably will compete for time on the strong side with free-agent acquisition Erik Walden. Walden is a solid run player, so if Werner can get into the backfield, they might complement each other well.

Werner has drawn comparisons to Paul Kruger, who left the Ravens after the Super Bowl to join the Cleveland Browns.

In Houston, the pass rush was overly reliant on J.J. Watt last season and lost Connor Barwin to Philadelphia in free agency. Enter third-rounder Sam Montgomery from LSU and fourth-rounder Trevardo Williams from UConn.

The two college ends will move back a unit in Wade Phillips’ defense. If they pan out on the strong side, Brooks Reed probably will move inside and work there with Brian Cushing.

BEST MOVE

The Jaguars steered clear of a quarterback.

They had the second pick overall and flip-flopped between first and second in each subsequent round. It’s a great landscape to add a lot of talent to a team that needs an influx and chose not to spend a lot in free agency.

Jacksonville added cheaper veterans who it thinks might blossom and be more productive in its systems.

A team that wants to be draft-centric wasn’t tempted by EJ Manuel, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon, Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib, Tyler Wilson or Landry Jones.

Meanwhile the Jaguars grabbed a cornerstone lineman in Luke Joeckel, probable starting strong safety Johnathan Cyprien, big corner Dwayne Gratz, receiver/punt returner Ace Sanders, running back/kick returner Denard Robinson and free safety Josh Evans with their first six picks.

They dealt away the first pick of the fourth round and let Philadelphia draft Barkley.

I don’t believe Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne will prove to be a long-term answer for the franchise. But I don’t believe any of the alternatives available through six rounds of this draft would have either. So I like the focus and determination to add pieces elsewhere.

When the time comes, probably next year, to add the quarterback, he’ll be joining a better roster.

RISKIEST MOVE

Indianapolis fifth-round defensive tackle Montori Hughes had issues at the University of Tennessee that got him thrown off the team. He told Indianapolis reporters that the Colts were the only team he would be talking to.

There are indications that he matured as he finished up at UT-Martin, but if his previous troubles are a predictor of future troubles, the Colts could be bringing a headache onto themselves.

“I went through some academic troubles and I went through some team issues and then I transferred down to UT-Martin,” Hughes said. “I had a new coach, so I transferred down, and I felt like it was a good fit at the time. Everything from when I first went on the campus at UT-Martin had a good feeling about it.

[+] EnlargeDenard Robinson
Rick Osentoski/US PresswireJacksonville draftee Denard Robinson rushed for 4,495 yards and had 42 rushing TDs in four years at Michigan, but as a quarterback.
“So when I went down there, I just went to work and knew I had to prove to myself and others that I was a better person than what was out there and just go to work every day, go hard, go hard on the field, on and off, and just learn to play football, the passion for the game. I just love being out there, so just taking it one day at a time.”

MOST SURPRISING MOVE

Outside of the first round, the biggest name to come into the AFC South was Robinson, the former Michigan quarterback. Jacksonville drafted him in the fifth round, 135th overall, as a running back and kick returner.

The Jaguars need playmakers for sure, but it feels like there is a bit of danger connected to a guy drafted to play running back who has never played running back. Robinson is regarded as a high-character guy with great drive. He wants to succeed and is willing to do whatever is asked of him.

If he pans out, it could be a real boom pick, offering hard-to-defend, hard-to-predict chunks of yardage.

FILE IT AWAY

Jaguars corner Gratz, Titans cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson and two Texans -- outside linebacker Williams and tight end Ryan Griffin -- all played together for the UConn Huskies.

UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni spent six years in the NFL coaching ranks, including terms as defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.

The Titans said they had Gratz (5-11, 201) and Wreh-Wilson (6-1, 195) rated close to each other on their board. As teams look for corners with more size who can press, hit and hold up, they’ll be an interesting duo to watch grow up in the same division.
Antonio Johnson worked hard to be a 3-4 nose tackle for the Colts last year and started 13 games.

But if the Colts are healthy they’ve now got four, much bigger options for the spot in their second year of the 3-4 front.

Fifth-round pick Montori Hughes went 139th overall. He started his college career at Tennessee, found trouble and finished up at Tennessee-Martin.

He’s 6-foot-4, 329 pounds and joins Josh Chapman (316), Brandon McKinney (345) and Aubrayo Franklin (315) as options for the nose. Ricky Jean Francois (295) can kick inside in some instances as well.

Chapman and McKinney missed last season with injuries. Franklin and Jean Francois are free-agent additions.

Scouts Inc. says he’s above average against the run and below average against the pass.

The big issue is his background, which the Colts clearly feel he addressed sufficiently as they scouted him.
“Was present at site of bar altercation in July 2010 and reportedly involved but not charged by police. He was suspended one game during 2010 season for violation of team academic rules. In addition, he was suspended twice from team activities during offseason of that year. Was involved in an on-campus altercation (dorm) in May 2011 that lead to his dismissal from the Tennessee football team. Coaches at Tennessee also have openly questioned his work effort and passion for the game. Has made strides in terms of maturity and was not a problem for the coaches during his time at Tennessee-Martin. In the end though will he work hard enough off-the-field (practice, conditioning, diet etc.) to reach full potential?”

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