Time is running out for the young pass rushers on the roster, most notably Ben Banogu. Banogu was selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft and has yet to see meaningful playing time with the Indianapolis Colts.
With the selections of defensive ends Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo in the 2021 draft, it is essentially now or never for Banogu. This rise in pressure has seemed to do wonders for the young pass rusher however, as he appears to be having the best offseason of his career.
"He’s had a great summer. I know he worked with Buck (DeForest Buckner) some and trained with him." said Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus. "He’s got his body right and he’s done a good job of that and that’s where the confidence is coming from. The confidence is coming from the work he’s doing on the practice field and the execution and the wins he’s making on the practice field. He just has to continue that and he will."
After working with Buckner at UNLV this offseason, Banogu turned right back around and traveled to Texas to train with Bobby Okereke and E.J Speed. On top of that, he had his normal offseason routine with his typical trainers as well.
Here is what Banogu had to say regarding his offseason training with Buckner:
Nothing drastic or anything. For me, it was just (Buckner) was more of a leader on the mental side just keeping myself upbeat every day and making sure that I was on my p’s and q’s. For me, he asked me to be accountable to him. Just helping each other to get better every day.
For a young player looking to turn the corner, there may not be a better mentor than Buckner, especially when you consider the personalities. The Colts' defense is filled with a lot of loud, boisterous personalities (which is not a bad thing by any means).
Banogu finding a similar soft-spoken, almost stoic veteran to lean on is exactly what he needed to stay focused and determined this offseason. The strong offseason appears to be leaking over to the practice field as well.
The last time that Eberflus spoke to media, here is what he had to say about the way that Banogu has practiced thus far:
Yeah, he’s taken big steps in these eight or nine practices we’ve had now. The biggest thing is playing fast. I know he said that the other day and he’s been telling me that.
What we did over the break here this last time was we had a checkpoint with our fundamentals. I talked about that a couple of times ago. What we did was each guy sat down with their coach and they talked about what are they going to work on fundamentally these next three stacks of practices. That’s important that they do that, and I went around and asked each guy during stretch just to remind them, ‘Hey, what did you and your coach talk about working on today?’ Just so they can refocus their mind to work on those things.
That’s an important part, an important component. Relative to Ben (Banogu), he’s working on playing fast and working with his hands and his speed rushing. That’s what he’s working at, and he’s done a good job so far at camp.
Ben Banogu is having an outstanding offseason so far and is seemingly doing everything right to make an impact with this team. The next step is having this work translate over to the games.
We all know that Banogu is a talented player, and a hard-worker, who just needs an opportunity to prove himself. Hopefully, we get to see these elite traits on display in year three.
Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachHicks2.