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Buddy Nix sees Jerry Hughes as versatile fit for defense

By Mark Gaughan

Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix thinks newly acquired defender Jerry Hughes can fit a couple of roles on the defense of coordinator Mike Pettine. Hughes spent the past three seasons mostly as a backup for the Indianapolis Colts.

"We think this defense and the way they're going to play him will fit what he does best," Nix said by phone with reporters this afternoon. "He was a defensive end at TCU, played with his hand on the ground, did that at first with the Colts, and then when they went to the 3-4, he played a little bit of both.

"But he played behind Robert [Mathis] and Dwight Freeney, so playing time wasn't a lot. We think this will give him an opportunity to do what he does best."

Nix sees Hughes as potential insurance behind starting strong-side -- or Sam -- linebacker Manny Lawson, as well.

"For sure, we think he can fit at the rush and at Sam linebacker," Nix said. "We think he can swing two positions there and then be a rusher in sub packages. Again, versatility is something we're looking for.

"We want our linebackers to at least be able to play both outside spots. We'd like our middle backers to have the ability to play Will or Mike. So that really was enticing about Jerry."

There was the rub for Kelvin Sheppard, who was sent to Indianapolis in exchange for Hughes. Sheppard is strictly a middle -- or Mike -- linebacker. Sheppard does not fit the weak-side -- or Will -- spot.

Asked if a change of scenery might benefit both players, Nix said: "It could work out like that and I hope it does. Kelvin did a good job for us and hopefully it will work out good for him and I think it will."


Buddy Nix | Jerry Hughes | Kelvin Sheppard
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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |