Having fallen to the Colts in the 4th round of this year’s NFL Draft because of weight and durability concerns despite arguably possessing first day talent, Ridgeway has placed himself in a great position to succeed this upcoming season by showing up in great physical shape to Colts camp.
As such, Pagano offered high praise for the former Texas Longhorns defensive standout, who’s currently listed at 6’3″, 317 pounds:
"“You’ve got a big strong man in the middle of the defense,” said Pagano on Ridgeway. “He understands what’s going on. Again, he did what he had to do in the offseason. He came back under 320 (pounds), so he’s in good shape.”"
With Henry Anderson still rehabilitating from a season-ending torn ACL and a strong candidate to start the regular season on PUP, as well as Art Jones‘ 4-game suspension, Ridgeway figures to be in the mix for a starting job at defensive end on the opposite side of veteran Kendall Langford.
Ridgeway along with returning rotational defensive lineman T.Y. McGill and Zach Kerr figure to be the early training camp favorites to help replace both Anderson and Jones’ reps in the mean time–with one of them likely assuming the starting position.
If nothing else, Ridgeway appears poised to become a key rotational defensive lineman for the Colts defense with his incredible versatility all along the team’s defensive line–having the capability to play multiple positions:
"Oct 10, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway (98) and defensive tackle Paul Boyette Jr. (93) sack Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) in the second quarter during the Red River rivalry at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports“He’s got versatility,” added Chuck Pagano. “He’s going to be excellent in base defense as an inside (defensive lineman), he can play the nose (tackle). He can play the 3 (technique), and then in our sub-package, whether we use a big sub-package on 1st or 2nd (down) in run situations or early downs and then on 3rd down, you know he’s going to get push.”"
Make no mistake about it, Ridgeway’s calling card is his ability to generate interior push in the pocket which has been sorely lacking from the Colts defensive line in recent seasons. It’s not out of the question that Ridgeway could have a “Malik Jackson-like” impact in that regard.
While Ridgeway is a bit green like any other rookie and has things to clearly work on going forward, he’s off to a promising start to his young career and hopefully keeps up the hard work:
"“Like I said, he’s a big strong guy, and he’s going to get push in the pocket, so he’s doing great,” concluded Pagano. “Like everybody else, he’s got a ways to go but he’s working hard.”"