Hughes has been here since the Birds signed him off the Giants' practice squad in November 2010. He played in 13 games last season. What does he need to show the coaches, at this point?
"They're looking for people they can trust," Hughes said Thursday. "That's what this business is about. You put a guy out there, you make the plays that are there to be made, you do your job 100 percent of the time, that's what they're looking for."
Hughes wasn't quite able to do that in his only NFL start so far, last Nov. 27 against the Patriots, a 38-20 Eagles loss in which New England quarterback Tom Brady targeted Hughes relentlessly.
This training camp, Asomugha seems to be outside in the base defense but inside in other packages. Hughes said that wouldn't be a problem, if he had to step in.
"I've always played nickel, I've played dime - it's not anything different," Hughes said. He said covering, say, Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, if that's how it works out, would be "an opportunity."
The coaching staff has always seemed to like Hughes, but he is facing a tough fight, with Joselio Hanson still around, fourth-round draftee Brandon Boykin added to the mix, and talented but troubled rookie free agent Cliff Harris gunning for a spot.
"It's never easy. Everybody's here for a reason," said Hughes, a 2009 fifth-round Chargers draft choice who injured a knee and missed that season. "They wouldn't bring anybody into camp just to have 'em as a body. Everybody's getting a look, everybody has opportunity."
Andy backs fullback
Observers trying to figure out the Eagles' roster have been debating whether they will keep a fullback this year, given that they used one on only 18 percent of their snaps last season, they let incumbent Owen Schmitt walk in free agency, and they have been known to line a tight end up in the backfield for short yardage run-blocking power.
Andy Reid seemed to settle that debate during Thursday's news conference. "In our offense, you need a fullback," Reid said.
Reid didn't explicitly rule out any exotic solutions, like rookie fullback-tight end hybrid Emil Igwenagu, but it has been pretty clear that 2011 practice squadder Stanley Havili is ahead of Igwenagu on the depth chart.
Linebacker Casey Matthews is out with a high ankle sprain . . . Cornerback Joselio Hanson suffered a dislocated right pinky in Thursday's practice . . . Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon left practice with left triceps spasms; a left triceps tear ended his 2011 season in October . . . Andy Reid said defensive end Jason Babin (calf) might be available for the final preseason game, Aug. 30 against the Jets, but he also said you really want to make sure calf injuries completely heal.