Let's start with a quick refresher on the remarkable 2021 season Darius Leonard had – and the career he's having:
- Leonard had eight forced fumbles, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries along with 122 tackles, four pass break-ups and three tackles for a loss in 2021. Those eight forced fumbles led the NFL.
- Leonard became the first player in NFL history to force at least eight fumbles and intercept at least four passes in a single season.
- Leonard is the only player in NFL history with 10 or more interceptions (he has 11), 15 or more sacks (he has 15) and 15 or more forced fumbles (he has 17) in the first five years of a career. Leonard just wrapped up his fourth season in the NFL.
- Leonard will enter Year 5 with the Colts tied with Robert Mathis for eighth on the team's all-time tackle leaderboard with 538.
An emotional and physical leader on a Colts defense that finished second in the NFL with 33 takeaways, Leonard was named to the Pro Bowl for a third time while earning his third spot as a first-team AP All-Pro.
"The turnover thing is just freakish," head coach Frank Reich said.
Leonard did all this, by the way, while fighting through some nagging ankle issues. When asked how his ankle was feeling in November, Leonard responded: "It's attached."
But Leonard was able to use his knowledge and instincts – as well as, of course, his toughness – to still put up a season Reich and general manager Chris Ballard both said was worthy of Defensive Player of the Year consideration.
"I've seen so many plays now that I understand where the ball is going to go," Leonard said. "So now, I have to cheat my alignment, I've got to find a way to put myself in a position to make those plays."
Snaps From The Season
See the best images of Indianapolis Colts 2022 Pro Bowl linebacker Darius Leonard.
They Said It
"We certainly think he's the best at it in the business." - Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on Leonard's ability to punch the ball out