‘Heartbroken’ Leonard eyes 40 tackles vs. Giants
Colts head coach Frank Reich sees the irony in LB Darius Leonard’s Pro Bowl snub, as Leonard has played with a chip on his shoulder his whole life. (0:41)
INDIANAPOLIS — Eli Manning, Saquon Barkley and the rest of the New York Giants offense should be on the lookout for Indianapolis Colts rookie linebacker Darius Leonard in Sunday’s game.
Leonard, the NFL’s leading tackler, said he wants to get 40 tackles against the Giants to make up for not being named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday.
Tom Brady over Andrew Luck in the AFC? Not this season. These are the players with the biggest gripe about not making the initial rosters.
Tom Brady is headed to his record-tying 14th Pro Bowl, it was announced Tuesday. The Chargers lead all teams with seven selections.
“He told me he wanted 40 tackles, but I told him it’s humanly impossible,” Colts Pro Bowl tight end Eric Ebron said. “He doesn’t care… Things like [the Pro Bowl] should really go by statistics rather than names. He’s one of the all-time great rookie linebackers statistically in a long time.”
Leonard acknowledged Wednesday that he was stunned when he got the call from coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard telling him that he didn’t make the first of what may be many Pro Bowl appearances.
“I was heartbroken at first because I thought I did enough, but it is what it is,” Leonard said.
When asked how upset he was based on a scale of 1-to-10, Leonard said, “Twenty. Just knowing that I put everything on film and still not enough. So I’ve just got to keep improving.”
Leonard, a second-round pick out South Carolina State University, a Football Championship Subdivision school, has a league-leading 146 tackles, which is 22 more than Luke Kuechly. Leonard also has seven sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception. Leonard was beaten out by Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney, Kansas City’s Dee Ford and Denver’s Von Miller as the outside linebackers on the AFC team. Leonard was named as an alternate.
“Like I always say, numbers don’t lie,” Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton said. “[Leonard] is playing phenomenal, especially as a rookie. You just don’t see that.”
Ebron and guard Quenton Nelson were the only Colts named to the Pro Bowl. Hilton, quarterback Andrew Luck, center Ryan Kelly and defensive lineman Denico Autry were also named as alternates.
“I’m biased,” Reich said. “Guys like Darius and Andrew, those guys I feel like are playing as good as anybody at their position. But we understand how this thing goes, and certainly I think the players do as well. You just keep going out and doing your thing.”
Leonard would easily beat the NFL’s record for tackles in a game if he comes close to his goal of 40. Kuechly and David Harris share the record for most tackles in a game at 24.
Leonard routinely shoots for 25 tackles in a game. His season high in tackles is 19, against Washington in Week 2.
“Impossible? There is nothing impossible,” Leonard said about the 40 tackles. “If you play a lot of snaps you’ve just got to get on every play possible.”