Colts’ Chris Ballard explains what excites him about the new DL coach

Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard met with the media on Friday ahead of the 2024 NFL draft, but among the points he touched on included the addition of new defensive line coach Charlie Partridge.

After opting not to renew the contract of former defensive line coach Nate Ollie, the Colts hired Charlie Partridge, who recently served his time in a second stint with the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Partridge’s calling card has long been his ability to develop players like JJ Watt at Wisconsin and Trey Hendrickson when he was head coach at Florida Atlantic.

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“I’m excited for Charlie (Partridge), who was watching him. He was at Wisconsin years ago – I didn’t get to know him well, but I know coach (Barry) Alvarez spoke only highly of him as a teacher and as a coach,” Ballard said Friday. “Actually, a few years ago when he actually contacted him, and he’s a very principled man, he didn’t leave Pittsburgh. He made a commitment that is very unique in today’s world, and I admire that.”

The Colts are coming off a season in which they set the franchise record for sacks in a season with 51. It was accompanied by some career seasons from Samson Ebukam, Tyquan Lewis and Dayo Odeyingbo.

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Continuing to develop those edge rushers and interior pass rushers is an important goal as many of them are reaching their peak with the Colts.

“Just look at his history of developing players and his ability to make them better. I’m not talking about average players either. I’m talking about unique players – from JJ Watt to the kids he is, (Trey) Hendrickson who plays at Cincinnati, this guy has coached some really good players and they all tell you he’s one of the best they’ve had so we’re happy to get him and he’s been great to work with to work with and he has a good eye for it.”

One of the biggest question marks will be regarding Kwity Paye, who has shown flashes in his fourth season, but without having everything figured out yet. The Colts must decide by May 2 whether to exercise his fifth-year option.

The new addition of Partridge should lead to more consistency in the pass rush, even if it may take a few weeks in the regular season for things to get going.