The Chuck Hughes Award is presented to the player who, because of hard work and determination, showed significant development and improvement during the past year.
This award is given in memory of Chuck Hughes, a Lions' reserve wide receiver who played two seasons with the Lions (1970-71); Hughes is the only NFL player to have died during action on a football field, having suffered a fatal heart attack during Detroit's game against Chicago on October 24, 1971.
This year's Chuck Hughes Most Improved Player Award, as voted by the players, goes to defensive end Kerry Hyder:
- After spending most of 2015 on the Lions practice squad, Hyder was signed to the active roster Week 17 where he saw action on defense and special teams, but did not record any stats. In 2016, he played all 16 regular-season games (2 starts), and broke out with a team-high 8 sacks.
- Hyder also lead the team with 11 tackles for loss.
View photos of Kerry Hyder from the 2016 season.
- His five sacks in the team's first four games led the NFC and were second in the NFL.
- Hyder became just the third player in franchise history to record 5 sacks through the first four weeks of the season (DE William Gay, 8.5 in 1983; DE Robert Porcher, 5.0 in 2001).
- He joined Gay (1983) as the only players to record or share a sack in each of the first four games of the season.
- Hyder recorded a pair of sacks in two separate games (at Colts, 9/11 and at Vikings, 11/6).
- His three preseason sacks tied for fifth most in the NFL. All three came in the team's preseason finale vs. Buffalo, continuing his tradition of finishing the preseason with a standout performance. Hyder recovered three fumbles in the preseason Week 4 game against Buffalo in 2015.