Nate Hughes (Getty Images)
The last time Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Nate Hughes played a game, it was Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals. He ended the game with just two catches for eight yards in a 31-17 blowout loss. Those two catches were just the second and third of his regular season NFL career, and they were hardly memorable for anyone outside of Hughes immediate family or entourage.
What was memorable from that game were the two dropped passes the youngster from Alcorn State suffered on back to back plays in the end zone, one of which bounced off his face mask.
"I knew he had struggled with that (drops) in the Arizona game," Jaguars quarterback David Garrard said.
Following that game, Nate Hughes was promptly released by the Jaguars and signed to the teams' practice squad after clearing waivers 24 hours later.
Later on in the season rookie receiver Jarett Dillard from Rice broke his leg after beginning to really come on and make plays. Dillard was placed on
injured reserve and Nate Hughes was brought back from the practice squad for a shot at redemption. Hughes had shined all offseason, being one of the stars of the Jaguars OTA's and training camp. Even in the preseason with "live bullets", Hughes was making plays prior to being knocked unconscious against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Many thought Nate Hughes had worked his way into being a full time player for the Jaguars, and it looked like he had. During the teams 0-2 start, Hughes got significant playing time, but didn't really produce much with the exception of the two drops that resulted in his release.
On Sunday against the Houston Texans, Nate Hughes got his shot at redemption, and he made the most of it as he cradled a perfectly thrown David Garrard pass into his chest for a 35-yard touchdown to put Jacksonville up 10-0, a lead in which they would never relinquish. Hughes blew past defensive back Jacques Reeves and the rest came naturally.
"I knew with the play-action I had Nate Hughes, and he was able to wrap around the corner and I was able to put it out there for him," Jaguars quarterback David Garrard said of the play.
The Jaguars offensive captain never lost faith in Hughes.
"I've always said, if you're open I'm going to throw you the ball," Garrard said. "Nate (Hughes) did a great job of coming down with it, I'm just happy I didn't throw it out of the end zone."
It was nice to see Nate Hughes not only have a little redemption on Sunday, but to have it in the same end zone that undoubtedly haunted Nate Hughes for weeks.