Colts DE-Ben Banogu comes off the edge in a game.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 18: Indianapolis Colts Defensive End Ben Banogu (52) runs with the football in game action during a NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals on October 18, 2020, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Colts Tuesday Notebook: Why Has Ben Banogu Been Inactive The Last Two Games?

INDIANAPOLIS – A few more national eyes will be on the Colts in Week 11.

With the Colts (6-3) moved into the 4:25 PM timeslot for their intriguing matchup with the Packers (7-2), they will also draw the top FOX broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.

Here are some things we learned from the Colts on Tuesday, before they get back to practice on Wednesday:

  • A surprise on the last two game-day inactive lists for the Colts has been DE-Ben Banogu as a healthy scratch. Despite fellow defensive end Kemoko Turay still not playing, the Colts haven’t dressed Banogu for either of their last two games. Why? “With any player, it’s about practice,” defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said on Tuesday. “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.” The 24-year-old Banogu played 92 defensive snaps in the first 7 games of the season. He has recorded 6 total tackles (no tackles for loss, sacks or QB hits). The Colts dressed journeyman defensive lineman Cassius Marsh (who the team signed to the practice squad on October 24th) over Banogu last Thursday. With Turay’s return imminent, it’s currently difficult to see Banogu factoring into much playing time the rest of the season.
  • One under the radar play from last Thursday’s win over the Titans was a 3rd-and-4 completion to undrafted rookie DeMichael Harris last in the first half. The 21-yard gain kept an eventual field goal drive alive, and cut the score to 17-13 at half. It was a different type of route than we had previously seen from Harris. And it earned him some important trust. “When we run a route for a player in a game, it suggests that we have ultimate trust in that player because we designed it for that player,” offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said on Tuesday. “For us to execute it in a game, it probably looked good in practice, so he executed it in practice. It’s Philip having trust in him, Frank having trust in him, myself having trust in him, Mike Groh having trust in him, I think it says a lot. As you make that play in a game, then more plays come your way because we know he can do that. It suggests we have ultimate trust in him, particularly on that play and that trust will grow, and did grow, based off the success of that play.” Sirianni stressed that Harris has more of a complete route tree in him than most guys with a heavy running back background from college.
  • On Tuesday morning, we wrote this piece on how important it is for Michael Pittman to build off last Thursday’s performance in helping the Colts down the stretch. Nick Sirianni was a big fan of what Pittman showed post-catch against the Titans. In fact, Pittman has a little Hall of Fame characteristic to his ability with the ball in his hands, according to Sirianni. “He catches the ball and then turns into a maniac when he gets the ball,” Sirianni says. “Does Darius (Leonard) have Maniac trademarked (smiles)? (Pittman) turns into a wild man. How about that? He’s hard to tackle. He’s a big man. Larry Fitzgerald has this ability to catch the football and just not be denied. There were times in our draft meetings where we said that about Michael. He’s a big man. He’s hard to take down. Sometimes you think about a guy after the catch in that he makes you miss and he’s killing you with speed, and Michael is fast and he showed you there, Michael just has a different style to him. He is a violent runner and uses his speed as he gets going and as a big body, uses his stride length to get going…When those big guys get going it’s hard to track them down with the stride length that they have. We had seen that in Michael and was one of the reasons we liked him.”
  • Coming from Division II Albany State, Grover Stewart had some development needed. He’s done just that. Stewart, who needs to be a key re-signing for the Colts, said on Tuesday that he’s lost nearly 40 pounds from where he was drafted (was at 345 pounds, now playing at 308 pounds). The lost weight has allowed Stewart to play more snaps, feel fresher deeper into games and alleviate some pain on his lower body. “I lost weight so I can move quicker and still have my strength,” Stewart says. “I always wanted to move like a little guy. I always considered myself small so losing weight was a big thing for me. I gained muscle and lost a lot of fat, so I really helped myself out in the long run.” Matt Eberflus credits Stewart’s breakout season for him playing with better pad level and using his hands to shed blocks more efficiently, along with the change in body type.
  • Outside of those two missed extra points against the Lions earlier this month, Rodrigo Blankenship continues to be very solid. He has made 12 straight field goals, dating back to Week Four. It’s crazy that we are now 9 games through the season and he’s yet to attempt a kick from further than 44 yards. While there have been 195 field goals in the NFL attempted from at least 45 yards this season, Hot Rod has yet to try one. Speaking of Blankenship and his fame, you might have seen Ric Flair donning a ‘Hot Rod’ t-shirt over the weekend. Well, Blankenship actually attended Ric Flair’s 70th birthday party in 2019. Ric Flair is a big time Georgia Bulldog fan. Let the legend of Hot Rod grow.
  • On Tuesday afternoon, the Colts activated DE-Kemoko Turay to the active roster and waived Sheldon Day. This was a logistical move by the Colts to bring Turay off the PUP list. The release of Day, an Indy native, comes with him not carving out a consistent role after needing knee surgery back in the summer. Day had 2 tackles in 62 snaps (4 games) with the Colts.
  • The Colts will get back to their normal on-field practice schedule Wednesday, with sessions again on Thursday and Friday afternoon before taking on the Packers at 4:25 PM this Sunday, with 12,500 capacity allowed inside of Lucas Oil Stadium.

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