Ben Banogu hasn’t been impressing the Colts coaching staff in practice.
With Kemoko Turay having been out until the Indianapolis Colts activated him this week, many fans have rightfully been wondering why they haven’t seen fellow defensive end Ben Banogu out on the field for the last two games against the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans. Both were very important matchups, after all.
It’s clear Indy has a stacked front seven, led by DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard, Justin Houston, Grover Stewart and Denico Autry, but shouldn’t a guy like Banogu, who was the team’s second-round pick in 2019 out of TCU, getting some worthwhile snaps to better prepare himself to be a member of this vaunted rotation?
Perhaps the Colts would like that to be the case, but defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus was blunt in his assessment when speaking to reporters on Tuesday. Banogu just hasn’t been good in practice.
"“With any player, it’s about practice,” Eberflus told reporters. “You practice well and produce on the practice field, then you move on to the game from there and you have to produce in the game. He’s working to get that done. We always say with the defensive line it takes 2 or 3 years before the light comes on. He just has to keep preserving and determination and keep working.”"
Honestly, that’s a hard pill to swallow if you’re the 24-year-old. Then again, he’s in a highly competitive environment and guys like Stewart and Tyquan Lewis have vastly out-played expectations. Stewart is gearing up for a big payday in free agency and Lewis is hoping to remain a key part of the defensive line since he’s only under contract for one more year.
What’s puzzling, however, is that almost every member of the defensive line has been able to produce regardless of their playing time … except Banogu.
He played in all 16 games last season, but the Colts had a much different D-line situation. Buckner wasn’t here. Lewis and Stewart weren’t exactly world beaters. But now that Banogu was forced to get the job done with limited snaps (he’s only seen an average of 13 across the seven games he’s played and has just six tackles, zero sacks and zero QB hits), he’s clearly not as much of a need and the coaching staff feels his development is a bit more important.
After all, he was viewed as more of a raw talent rather than an NFL-ready rusher coming out of the draft, so perhaps it’s back to the drawing board for a moment. It’s not a bad thing, though. He has a lot of experienced players to learn from and it could work out in his favor once he gets back on track.