Darius Leonard Making Strong Early Impression On Colts Defense

Darius Leonard Making Strong Early Impression On Colts Defense

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Darius Leonard Making Strong Early Impression On Colts Defense

Darius Leonard has wasted little time entering the starting lineup for a Colts defense needing his athleticism.

Michael Hickey | Getty Images


INDIANAPOLIS – In one week, Darius Leonard went from an unsigned rookie to picking off Andrew Luck and inserting himself into the starting lineup.

It was quite the debut for the No. 36 draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts back in April.

Leonard inked his rookie contract last Sunday, participated with his rookies the next two days and then picked Luck off at his first NFL practice later in the week.

A few days after, Leonard looked to a be a definite starter (in both base and nickel)---a spot that the Colts won’t be looking to remove him from for years to come.

The college film of Leonard covering space side-to-side has been seen now at the NFL level, with the rookie linebacker fully healed from a nagging spring quad injury.

“It’s really what we saw on tape,” defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus says of Leonard’s impressive debut. “There was really no surprise as to what he brings to the table. Just athleticism, a fluid athlete, a speed player and has a lot of upside.

 

“We are excited to have him.”

 

Despite missing the entire spring, Leonard is adamant that he is not behind from a mental/physical standpoint.

 

And that looks to be the case with Leonard quickly ascending into the starting lineup at linebacker.

 

“I honestly think I’ve caught up,” Leonard said after his third Training Camp practice. “I’ve spent a lot of time with the coaches, paying a lot of attention in the meetings and stuff. I don’t think I’m behind any. I think I’m right with everybody else.”

 

Where Leonard isn’t with everybody else at linebacker is in terms of athleticism.

 

Leonard looks and moves really unlike any other linebacker on the roster.

 

“He’s a physical presence out there,” Frank Reich says. “We feel really good about Darius.”

 

At South Carolina State, Leonard’s teammates nicknamed him the ‘maniac’ after a 19-tackle performance against Clemson.

 

‘Controlled chaos’ is how Leonard describes his interpretation of the maniac label.

 

One of the obvious questions about Leonard transitioning to the NFL comes from the competition level he played against at SCSU.

 

“I’ve heard it,” Leonard says of the questions. “I’ve been overlooked ever since I was little. So I love to prove people wrong. I’ve always been an underdog so it kinds of puts a little fuel on the fire and pushed myself to prove everybody wrong.”

 

At 6-2 and 235 pounds, running like a safety, Leonard doesn’t look like a small-school guy.

 

And the Colts need him to play like a big schooler for this defense to do anything of substance in 2018.

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