INDIANAPOLIS – It’s not a talent or character issue for Ben Banogu, says the decision maker of the Indianapolis Colts
When Chris Ballard tries to pinpoint the more than pedestrian start to Banogu’s NFL career, he goes to the third-year defensive end needing some confidence.
Make no mistake though, it’s going to take quite a bit of confidence to turn Banogu’s career around.
This is a guy who was a healthy scratch in 7 games last season.
This is a guy who hasn’t had a sack or quarterback hit since Week 11 of the 2019 season.
This is a guy who you wouldn’t currently place on the top 4, maybe 5, names at defensive end right now.
One could certainly make the argument that a poor camp from Banogu would lead to him being cut come late August.
While Ballard thinks the main issue is confidence, he also points out the urgency that must show up soon.
“Ben has to come on,” the GM says. “Come on. Let’s go.”
Something that Ballard often points out with young rushers is that it takes around three years before they truly emerge.
Of course, for every Jerry Hughes, there’s also a Bjoern Werner.
In present-day Colts terms, the hope is Banogu has a Tyquan Lewis-type third year, although it would be unfair to say Banogu has shown anywhere near the potential Lewis did in prior action to their 3rd NFL seasons.
“You saw Tyquan last year, he just really took the step,” Matt Eberflus says. “We always talk about that third year being able to do that and that’s where Ben is. Ben is going to have to do that this year. He has to do it with his play, just like Tyquan did.
“I saw what Tyquan said (about Banogu’s third season) and I thought it was good advice – just stay the course, be yourself and just work your tail off. That’s what Ben has to do and it has to be done on the practice field, it has to be done in drills because we study everything and we look at every single thing that every player does. From the drills to the one-on-ones, to the team activities, to the 11-on-11s, we do all those things and it will all be evaluated and looked at from there.”
When pressed on the inevitable pressure that is here for Banogu this camp, he wants no part of bringing up the past.
“I’m really not focused on last year. This year is a new year,” the former 2nd round pick says. “I’m trying to help my team do the best they can this year. I’m trying to help the team win a bunch of games.
“I learned a lot of things last year and the years before that, and when I was five years old. You learn everything every day and every year. Right now, I’m worried about this upcoming year.”
What about Ballard’s message to Banogu heading into this season?
“Pretty plain and simple, just help the team win in any way possible,” the DE says. “I think it’s the same message for every guy in this locker room. That’s my job. My job is to help the team, do well on Sundays. I’m trying to help my team do that and help the d-line get to where we need to get to.”
Playing on Sunday, or even getting to Sunday’s on the 53-man roster, though is a question as Banogu enters a massive camp.