Darius Leonard Loses Weight Going Into Second NFL Season
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INDIANAPOLIS – He first expressed a desire to re-shape his body in the day following the playoff loss to Kansas City.
Despite an All-Pro rookie season, Darius Leonard did not like how his body made it through Year One in the professional ranks.
Leonard weighed 234 pounds when the Colts took him 36th overall last April.
But he was down to a mere 217-218 pounds for the final few games of the season.
Now, Leonard weighs in at 221 pounds and he’s hoping to keep that weight below the 225-mark as he continues to use his extreme athletic gifts to torment opposing offenses.
“I’m not a typical linebacker,” Leonard, who also became a new father this offseason, says of why he wants to weigh far less than most linebackers. “I’m more of a speed guy, very athletic so if I’m going to play in space, I’m going to need to move.
“If you look at a linebacker, 6-4, 230 pounds, going to come downhill. I’m more of a speed guy and very athletic. So if I’m going to play in space, I need to be able to move. And I played all my life at 215, 220 and was never over 225. And last year I was injured a lot, that was when I was pretty heavy, so I want to stay down. Hopefully I can cut some of that down.”
Last year’s deplorable Pro Bowl snub for Leonard still has him motivated.
“Without a doubt,” a smiling Leonard said when asked if that burn is still in there from his non-inclusion in the Pro Bowl last year.
Leonard’s dazzling rookie campaign included a league-best 163 tackles. The playmaking came in the form of 12 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, 8 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions.
Following last season, defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus challenged his entire unit to analyze their bad plays from 2018.
What did Leonard find out about himself as areas for improvement?
“I would say getting off blocks a whole lot quicker,” he says. “A lot of times when I engage in blocks I tend to stay a little longer than I want to.”
This spring work for Leonard will also be his first in the NFL, after a draft workout leg injury kept him off the field for last year’s offseason program.
The linebacker believes work this time of year will help him be more comfortable in making necessary pre-snap checks this fall and give him more command of the Indy defense.
And it’s a defense he wants to lead to higher heights in 2019, with some serious aspirations.
“I didn’t win a Super Bowl ring. I didn’t win MVP. I wasn’t a Pro Bowler, so I still thrive from that,” Leonard says. “Every year you want to be classified as the best, and every game I want to make every tackle, every sack, everything.
“So if my name isn’t at the top, I’m not happy. And last year my name wasn’t at the top so I’m going to keep working until I get there.”