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Bills trade LB Sheppard to Colts for LB Hughes

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 29, 2013 at 6:29 pm •  Published: April 29, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills aren't finished tinkering with their linebackers this offseason.

Buffalo traded Kelvin Sheppard to the Indianapolis Colts for Jerry Hughes on Monday in a swap of linebackers two days after the NFL draft.

Sheppard, a 2011 second-round pick from LSU, has been inconsistent in two seasons in Buffalo. He had 138 tackles and two sacks in 31 games, including 24 starts.

Hughes was the Colts' 2010 first-round draft pick from TCU. He's had 62 tackles and five sacks in 40 games, including seven starts, but had difficulty finding his niche on the Colts' defense.

Used initially as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, Hughes made the switch to linebacker when the Colts moved to coach Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defense, where he appeared to be more at home. But still he was not the impact player envisioned when they expected him to eventually replace Dwight Freeney.

Freeney, Indy's career sacks leader, was let go in free agency this winter.

"He's a talented guy that did everything we asked of him," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement. "At the same time, we are very pleased to be getting a young linebacker who has been a productive starter in this league."

At 6-foot-2 and 254 pounds, Hughes' versatility could be a better fit on a Buffalo defense that's in transition under new coach Doug Marrone and new coordinator Mike Pettine.

"Versatility is something we're looking for. We want our linebackers to be able to at least play both outside spots," Bills general manager Buddy Nix said. "We think this will give him an opportunity to do what he does best."

The move is the latest change to Buffalo's linebackers this offseason. Buffalo released starter Nick Barnett in February, and signed Manny Lawson in free agency last month.

The Bills also added a linebacker in the draft, selecting Oregon's Kiko Alonso with the 46th pick. Alonso is a hard-hitting player who spent most of his three-year college career playing in the middle.

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