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Colts’ Defensive Line Turning Heads Early on in Training Camp

Indianapolis Colts Training Camp Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

While training camp hasn’t exactly treated the Colts very well to start, there have been some ‘eye-popping’ moments, if you will.

Indianapolis Star and Colts Insider Jim Ayello — along with various other team reporters — have been pleasantly surprised by how well Indianapolis’ defensive line has performed over the course of the last week and a half.

Ayello tweeted, “Ben Banogu, another sack. He’s looked GREAT so far in camp.”

Banogu’s current standing roster-wise reminds me of Tyquan Lewis’ last season. Lewis, like Banogu, hadn’t really made much noise over his first few seasons. Indianapolis expected more from the former Ohio State standout, and he delivered by tallying four sacks in a limited role this past season. The same is expected for Banogu, who the Colts would like to see take that next step for them as a pass rusher.

So far, as pointed out by Ayello and other team reporters, Banogu has stepped up. We’ll have to see if his sudden production in camp can translate on gamedays.

Sure, the team is missing a few key starters in QB Carson Wentz and LG Quenton Nelson, but let’s not discredit the defensive lines’ showings.

The interior defensive lineman, DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart, were quite the duo last season. It was the inconsistencies at edge, though, which became part of the reason why Indianapolis’ pass rush wasn’t as consistent and dominant as they would’ve liked it to be last season.

Veterans like Justin Houston and Denico Autry would play exceptionally well one game and then struggle the next. After the departures of both vets, the Colts felt like upgrading at edge was their biggest priority — aside from maybe finding their next quarterback.

Enter in rookie first-round pick Kwity Paye and fourth-year defensive end Tyquan Lewis, both of whom the Colts believe can be more consistent for them this season. And in today’s pass-driven NFL, a consistent, elite pass rush is a must — especially if you want to compete against the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, etc.

Let’s not forget about Kemoko Turay, who’s also looked rather sharp as well. Turay hasn’t really been 100% healthy up until recently, so expectations might have been tempered a bit. But the speed rusher has shown flashes of potential stardom on the biggest of NFL stages, like that Sunday Night Football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019.

Turay lived in KC’s backfield for the majority of the game before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. Now that he’s completely healthy, expectations may soon start to rise.

During the Colts’ first full-padded practice, Turay has stood out to many.

Fellow Colts reporter Stephen Holder tweeted, “Full pads today… In the first full team period, Kemoko Turay gets a great rush and possible sack. He gave Braden Smith all he could handle right there. Hmmm”

Between Buckner, Stewart, Paye and Lewis, which will more than likely be the starting four this season, the Colts potentially have quite the front four on their hands. Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together. And if both Turay and Banogu can come in as needed and give the line a spark in key situations, this defensive front has the makings of being something special.