How did Mike Hughes perform in his 2019 debut on Sunday?

(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Mike Hughes
(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Mike Hughes /

Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mike Hughes returned to the field on Sunday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in 2018.

Mike Hughes was finally back on the field for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The Vikings’ secondary gained a first-round cornerback a week after a slow start against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

So how did Hughes look in his return from injury against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday?

Finally active after going down in Week 6 of the 2018 season with a knee injury, the young Minnesota cornerback played some meaningful minutes on Sunday. Hughes played primarily as the nickel cornerback all game and he had his ups and downs.

He was flagged for one penalty against Hunter Renfrow that gave the Raiders a first down. Hughes also missed a handful of tackles in the run game. However, he was given a pretty decent workload in his 2019 debut and the struggles were expected.

Hughes did break up a third-down pass on Oakland’s opening drive that forced a punt and he did contribute in containing the Raiders’ rushing attack as well, making an impact near the line.

He ended up with three tackles on Sunday for a Vikings defense that limited the Oakland offense all afternoon. Hughes’ speed did not seem to be affected by the injury as he looked pretty fresh. As he gets more comfortable on the field this season, he will surely perform better.

What can we expect from Hughes in 2019?

Mike Zimmer was not shy about giving Hughes playing time this week as he was thrust into action in his return. That said, Hughes should be a big part of the defense moving forward.

As he shakes off the rust, he should return to the type of player we saw developing before our eyes last season. With Mackensie Alexander‘s status still uncertain with an elbow injury, Hughes will need to continue to step up in the slot.

There are also reports that Hughes has worked on punt returns in practice, so that may be added as he works out of his knee brace. Preferably though, Minnesota should limit his risk of another injury and let someone else handle return duties for now.

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Time will tell, but Hughes looked fine in his 2019 debut. Getting him back just might be the piece that gels the Vikings’ defense together for the rest of the season. Hopefully, Hughes will remove the knee brace over the next few weeks and not have any limitations to his game.