Playing and practice time have done a great deal to boost the confidence of Cleveland Browns rookie defensive lineman
With Phil Taylor and
“It’s just giving guys opportunities to get some reps and get used to the NFL game,” Hughes said. “It’s a lot different from college. “As the games go on, you get more comfortable. You’re not so nervous and timid when you’re in there and you play better. Getting used to the flow of the game and being able to realize things a lot faster is a big key.
“I feel like I’m doing alright. Just like any other player, I feel like I have a lot more to work on, but I feel like I’m progressing pretty well. It just comes with hard work. Every day, I come out here with an intent to get better, an intent to work hard.”
Hughes registered two total tackles in the team’s 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions in the preseason opener and added a tackle-for-loss in the Browns’ 35-10 win over the Green Bay Packers last Thursday night at Lambeau Field.
In the game against the Packers, the Browns surrendered just 69 yards rushing and 159 through the air.
On the Packers’ fifth-to-last play of the first half, quarterback Graham Harrell checked down a pass to rookie running back Marc Tyler. Before Tyler had a chance to make a play with the football, Hughes stopped him for a three-yard loss.
“We had a gain called and I wrapped back around and I saw him,” Hughes said. “He actually looked back at the quarterback and I felt like he looked at me for a second like, ‘Are you going to throw it?’ I’m like, ‘Alright, throw it.’ Then, I went after it.
“We’re getting after the ball and 11 hats running to the ball makes a big difference.”
Hughes was quick to credit the ability to make a play behind the line of scrimmage to his attention to detail off the football field.
“At Cincinnati, I really tried to rely on watching film more just because everybody, they’re just strong, fast, but when it comes to watching film and being able to read stuff before guys even do it, that’s a big key,” Hughes said. “It helps you out a lot, makes you faster on the field.”
Browns coach Pat Shurmur has seen that film study pay dividends for Hughes and the defense as a whole.
“I think he’s improving. I think he’s having a good camp and I saw a young guy out there playing hard and kind of enjoying the experience. I think he’s getting better and we’re seeing the things that we saw when we drafted him.”
With two preseason games left to play before the Browns start the 2012 regular season against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns Stadium Sept. 9, Hughes will continue to work on improving his skills, whether or not he is in the starting lineup.
“The mindset’s the same when I come out here, just come out and play,” Hughes said. “If I get thrown in the role, I get thrown in the role. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team. Everything since I was a little kid, the doubts and everything, it drives me every day just to come out here and work hard and try to be the best I can be.”