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Chuck Pagano: Tarell Basham is “going to be exciting” to watch

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NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

`Entering the offseason, the pass rush was arguably the Colts’ biggest need, and while they added several guys in free agency with the ability to rush, they didn’t add a true pass rusher until the third round of the draft, when they selected Tarell Basham.

Because of that, Basham should find himself in a pretty significant role early on in his NFL career as he should at least fill a situational pass rush spot. So far, the Colts have been impressed with what they’ve seen from the pass rusher out of Ohio.

“Yeah, he’s working on himself,” Chuck Pagano said earlier this week. “He’s getting in better shape. He’s in much better shape, they all are, than when they arrived. He’s got burst, he’s got twitch. He’s a nifty athlete and he’s good with his hands. He’s got some natural pass rush to him. It’s going to be exciting.”

He showed that ability while in college, as he recorded 29.5 sacks and 41.5 tackles for loss at Ohio. In 2016, he was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year as he racked up 11.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. He was a very intriguing prospect entering the draft and wound up being selected by the Colts in the third round.

The Colts signed Jabaal Sheard, John Simon, and Barkevious Mingo this offseason too, which could take some of the pressure off of Basham to produce right away. That’s why it seems most likely that he will start out in a situational pass rush role, with Sheard and Simon as the starters with Basham contributing on pass rush downs. If he’s able to focus primarily on rushing the passer right away, the hope would be that he will have more success as a rookie.

Either way, the reality is that it’s hard to tell right now what the Colts have in their pass rushers because they’re just in shorts in non-contact practices. With that said, there are some things that can be learned from pass rushers during this time of year.

“Knowing the call, understanding the call, running the different patterns, seeing a guy get off, seeing him work an edge, work a one-on-one in a team period and work pass rush games,” Pagano explained. “How does he work with a defensive tackle? We’re getting into blitz periods as far as running the blitz patterns. Right now, the physical part of it, the finish part of it is what you really don’t know. You’ve got guys burning the edge, aborting a mission so to speak and we’ve got a three-yard halo rule around the quarterback and nobody is supposed to get close and you don’t want to come up in the middle and duck underneath one and lose a guy with a thumb injury. All of the defensive guys are all yelling, ‘Sack, sack, sack,’ and the offensive guys are saying, ‘No, we got it off.’ So it’s subjective. It depends what side of the ball you’re on and how you did or not. But it’s hard right now. It’s even harder in training camp because we don’t hit those guys.”