Ben Banogu benefitted from offseason workouts with DeForest Buckner

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Indianapolis Colts fans have been waiting for the emergence of defensive end Ben Banogu, whose athleticism has yet to translate into a significant role within the defense. Some offseason workouts with All-Pro DeForest Buckner may help that.

Banogu worked out this offseason with Buckner and defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth before the team got together in May for OTAs. The former second-round pick feels the work they put in helped hone their craft and will get them ready for training camp when the team arrives.

“It was good. It wasn’t anything crazy. DeForest (Buckner) and I have worked together on the practice field here. It was easy for us to work together in the offseason,” Banogu told the media last week. “Working on our craft, fine tuning things, trying to get better, trying to learn new things about our game. It’s easier working with someone that you practice with and play with. Me, Buck and Tay (Taylor Stallworth) had a great time there. We felt like we got better. We wanted to take the things that we learned and got better at and put it into this fall camp and then going into the season.”

It has been a disappointing two seasons for Banogu since the Colts took him in the second round of the 2019 draft. His athleticism is off the charts and still provides him a chance to hit his ceiling, but his production and role with the team have been less than ideal.

In 2019, Banogu played in 16 games (no starts) while recording 2.5 sacks. He played on 26% of the team’s defensive snaps.

The 2020 season was an entirely different story. Banogu wound up playing in just nine games (no starts) without recording a sack. He saw just 10% of the team’s defensive snaps and was a healthy scratch for seven games during the regular season. He was also a healthy scratch during the team’s wild-card loss against the Buffalo Bills.

Banogu isn’t focusing on that, though, as he enters his third season in the NFL. He’s simply taking it one day at a time while using the tips and pointers the coaching staff has for him.

“Over the course of these last couple of years I’ve been working, trying to get better. The coaches have been doing a great job of helping me with that – so just continually trying to grow,” Banogu said. “We have a saying here, ‘One percent better’ and I believe in that. I’m not too worried about the stuff that happened last year. It’s this year, a new year and I’m ready to work with my guys.”

Though the Colts lost Denico Autry to the Titans and Justin Houston doesn’t seem to be returning, Banogu will have to fight for a role on the defensive line. The Colts added Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo in the draft while Kemoko Turay, Al-Quadin Muhammad and Tyquan Lewis are all ahead of him on the depth chart for the defensive line.

This will be a crucial Year 3 for Banogu, but the hope is the work he put in this offseason with Buckner and the team will finally allow us to see some of the developments in his game.

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