Indianapolis Colts linebacker, Darius Leonard, had the opportunity to break down film with Hall of Fame linebacker, Ray Lewis.
Leonard has specialized in forcing turnovers. Whether it’s the “punch” that dislodges the ball or dropping into passing lanes at the last second to snag an interception, it seems as if Leonard is recording a turnover every game.
In 15 games, Leonard has four interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and a league-high seven forced fumbles. The one game that Leonard missed is the only game of the season the Colts didn’t force a turnover.
In a segment on NFL Network, Leonard got the opportunity to sit down with Hall of Fame linebacker, Ray Lewis, and break down some of their film. In the three-and-a-half-minute video, Leonard explains the key to him making so many plays.
Darius Leonard says ‘mentality’ is key to his playmaking ability
Leonard refers to Lewis as “the greatest linebacker to play the game” and Lewis calls Leonard “one of the young lions of the game right now.” While Leonard certainly aspires to get to where Lewis is, their careers already share something in common: routinely making big plays from the linebacker position.
In the video, Leonard says the key is “In crunch time moments, you gotta want to make the play, you gotta want to be the one who makes the play. You can’t be afraid of it.” While that may seem like it should be commonplace in the NFL, Lewis and Leonard’s agreement makes clear that it isn’t.
If Leonard’s four seasons in a Colts’ uniform has shown anything, it’s that he isn’t afraid of the moment. From the time he stepped on an NFL field, he has been making play after play. That’s why Leonard has been selected to either a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team every year he’s been in the league.
Leonard’s mentality and leadership have been contagious in Indianapolis. In addition to his play, he leads vocally and with his energy. His desire to make big plays has rubbed off on everybody on the defense. Watch any Colts game and you’ll see 11 men going for the ball.
This philosophy is a big reason why Indianapolis will be in a position to clinch a playoff spot on Sunday. If Indy is going to make a serious playoff run, the defense will have to make a ton of big plays, but there’s no doubt that Darius Leonard will be prepared to make them.