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Coach Speak: Mike Phair Talks Colts Defensive Line

This is a 2014 photo of Mike Phair of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL football team. This image reflects the Tampa Bay Buccaneers active roster as of Monday, June 16, 2014 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS — Mike Phair is in his first year as the defensive line coach of the Indianapolis Colts. He recently talked to reporters about the state of his position group as it continues through offseason workouts and heads towards the 2018 season:

What do you think of Tarell Basham’s progression?
“He’s done a nice job. I can see Rusty (Jones) has done a great job with him getting his body changed a little bit so he has been putting the work in. He has come out every day just with the right approach – come out to work.”

Do you like having guys that have versatility and can play different spots?
“I like guys that can play several spots. Really, that’s kind of how I teach ‘em, so they can play multiple spots. So that’s a good problem to have when you have a guy that can play a couple spots for you. But of there’s just a guy that always fits one spot – it’s not that it’s bad, it’s just you have more options when you get a guy and play him at end and can kick him inside for third down and be able to just do some different things with him.”

It seems like you guys actively sought that out this offseason:
“Yeah, that’s kind how we have always kind of approached it playing in this system.”

On having Robert Mathis to help out as a pass rush consultant:
“It’s awesome. You know, it’s awesome to have him. And he’s been there and done that — and the cool part is he’s played in this system, so he knows exactly, you know, every word that I’m saying, he says it. We speak the same language. That’s the biggest thing that you look at. And we laugh at each other ‘cause he looks at me, he goes, ‘You’re speaking my language.’ So that’s the cool part.”

On having a former player with the ability to teach like Mathis:
“You know, I think the thing that I notice with him is he is a teacher. I mean, I’ve listened to him and watched him, and he does a great job. He’s got the right kind of demeanor to be able to talk to ‘em and really get the point across. It’s one thing to explain it the right way; he can do that. So I’ve watched him and listened to that, and he’s great with it. And like I said, because he’s been there and the guys listen to him and he does a great job with that.”

On what the defensive front in the 4-3 looks like when it’s rolling:
“The key part is you’ve got to have your guys up front going, and that’s the only way it works, is when your front is rolling. And we’ve got to affect the passer, and so obviously (the) back end, you have to have that going too, but it starts up front. So the times that I’ve been in it when it’s going, it’s the front that starts things.”

On Kemoko Turay being more of an edge guy and Tyquan Lewis having the ability to play inside:
“He can do that. Yeah. He’s done that, and he did that on his film in college. So he’s used to that. A really smart guy that understands that he’s been … (Ohio State defensive line) Coach Larry Johnson did a great job with him, kind of exposing him to a lot of different things. So he understands kicking him inside at the three (technique) and all that stuff. And Turay’s been great, too. You know, we can keep him on the edge and let him go.”
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On why he thinks the sack production wasn’t quite there for Turay despite his skillset:_
“Yeah, and I can’t answer that. I know he had some injuries, or whatever it was. So, I don’t know. I wasn’t there, so I can’t really answer what it was.”

On if he saw the same skillset from Turay during the Colts’ rookie minicamp:
“Oh yeah. He’s just really flexible. He’s got really — I mean, we call them kind of ‘Gumby’ movements. You know, he can really twerk his body and come out of it and he stays off the ground. And so he’s got some of those movements that we look for. So, to me, you can kind of see that; just look at the drill work and see what he looks like.”

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