Hugh Thornton Ready For The Challenge

Sep 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts guard Hugh Thornton (69) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts guard Hugh Thornton (69) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indianapolis Colts are committed to protecting their most valuable asset and guard Hugh Thornton is up for the challenge.

Entering his fourth year in the league, Hugh Thornton has played in 37 NFL games and started in 32 of them. Since being drafted by Indianapolis 86th overall, Thornton has stepped into the guard role and has done his part in protecting Andrew Luck as well as open up holes in the running game.

In his three seasons with the Colts, Thornton has been plagued with injuries and inconstancy. That lack of consistency is of course a direct result of those injuries and have landed him on the Injured Reserve list the last two seasons. Thornton’s biggest hope is to stay healthy in 2016.

He has taken some strategies to hopefully keep him more healthy once Training Camp and the regular season begin.

“I do a lot of stretching,” Thornton said. “I ride my bike around Indy, and find alternative ways to train that help with cardio and longevity in the league.”

Right now however, Thornton says that he feels good physically.

“I feel great,” Thornton said. “I’ll be ready for training camp.”

He has also lost some weight this offseason. Between exercising, changing eating habits, and other small things, Thornton has lost around 28 pounds and now weighs in around 315. That will be helpful in offensive line coach Joe Philbin’s system which favors more mobile players.

Thornton says that the lost weight gives him an advantage in durability.

“Slimming down, I feel like I’ve given myself a better chance to stay healthy.” Thornton said.

Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Thornton said that he also has learned a lot from being in the trenches for three years.

“The way that I’ve played the game has changed.” Thornton said. “The knowledge of the game and the understanding of the defensive concepts has helped me to grow as an offensive player.”

Thornton also said that with that growth, he has come to know what to expect as a player.

Thornton also said that his preparation has “gone through the roof.”

Along with more preparation, Thornton discussed how the way that he breaks down film has also changed.

“I’m my biggest critic,” Thornton said. “I’m probably harder on myself than any coach will be or any fan will be. That’s kind of what drives me to become better and better each year.”

Entering a contract year, Thornton may have one last chance to prove his worth amongst the offensive line. Thornton, however, doesn’t feel extra pressure.

“I treat every season like it’s my rookie year.” Thornton said.

Thornton’s preparation and training haven’t changed, despite this being a contract year.

“I prepare as hard as I can and train as hard as I can.” Thornton said. “I make sure that I’m the most prepared that I can be going into each season.”

Thornton has high expectations for this season and is excited about the team the Colts have put together.

“This year is the most cohesive that the team has ever been.” Thornton said. “We have leader veterans that are training like rookies. They are willing to teach and also willing to learn.

“I think that this year with the pieces that management, coaching staff and the GM have put together, we have a real great chance of success.”

He said that for the team to return to the postseason, they have to stay healthy and every player has to prepare as if they were starting.

“There is things that happen in this game which are uncontrollable,” Thornton said.  “And I believe we have a team full of starters and it’s a matter of who’s gonna get the starting job that week.”

Thornton feels like as a player, he is primed for his best season yet.

“I’m looking forward to coming out and having the best year yet.” Thornton said. “I think that we’re all accountable to each other and we’re going to do great things this year.”

Thornton know that he is going to have competition for his starting spot and that nothing is given on the offensive line heading into the season. He’ll have to earn the top spot on the depth chart just like any other player.

“I’m a competitor,” Thornton said. “As we compete for starting positions, there’s no job that is given. Everything is earned. That’s the mentality that I approach it with.”

However the guard competition shakes out, Thornton says that he will come out with everything he has.

When asked what kind of player he will be in 2016, Thornton said, “A mean, tenacious, accountable player. If we need to run the ball, we need to run it to my side. If we need to pass the ball, just know that I’ll pick up any protection if they blitz.”

“I just want to be a staple,” Thornton said. “Not only on the offensive line, but in the Colts organization.”