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The Indianapolis Colts figured Darius Leonard would
MessagePosté le: Jeudi 27 Juin 2019, 7h27, Sujet: The Indianapolis Colts figured Darius Leonard would Répondre en citant
liny195

 
Inscrit le: Jan 17, 2019
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emerge as a defensive playmaker one day.He skipped the learning curve.Two weeks into his rookie season Rock Ya-Sin Jersey , the weakside linebacker leads the NFL with 27 tackles, already has forced one fumble, recovered another, had a sack and provided a new, dynamic dimension in the Colts’ rebuilt defense.“When we came here, there were only one or two guys (at linebacker),” defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said Tuesday.“He was kind of thrust into that position and we treated him as such. He’s grabbed that role, taken it and he’s done a good job with it.”Just how impressive has the 6-foot-2, 234-pound, 23-year-old been?Leonard’s 18-tackle performance Sunday at Washington was the fifth-best grade by a linebacker since Eberflus implemented his points system in 1995.Some view Leonard’s immediate impact as a surprise, but he was pretty impressive in college.Leonard set the career record for tackles (394) at South Carolina State, a Football Championship Subdivision school largely overshadowed by the state’s more prominent programs at Clemson and South Carolina as well as Furman, the 1988 FCS national champions.Twice he was selected as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference defensive player of the year and Leonard got his nickname “Maniac” following a 19-tackle performance against Clemson in 2016. The knock on him going into the draft was he needed more size and strength to hold up in the NFL and time to make the transition from small-school star to NFL contributor.Colts general manager Chris Ballard saw it differently after watching Leonard for one week in Mobile, Alabama, in January.“You always want to watch the small school guys when you go to the Senior Bowl because now they’re facing the bigger competition,” Ballard said after making Leonard the first of Indy’s four second-round draft picks in April.“I thought he stood out. His speed, his athleticism, his ability to cover. When the four ‘backers went, we thought Darius was the fifth-best backer in the draft.”Leonard certainly has played like it.Despite missing all but one day of offseason workouts, Leonard returned to the field when the Colts’ rookies reported in late July and made a quick impression on the veterans.“I think it was pretty much the first time you saw it, the first practice of training camp when he caught the interception off of Andrew Luck,” second-year linebacker Anthony Walker said.“First of all https://www.coltsfanshop.com/Le_Raven-Clark-Jersey , that’s a big-time quarterback there and that was a big-time play. We knew right there 鈥?that’s why we drafted him.”Leonard continued playing well during the preseason and his ability to stay healthy allowed him not only to win a starting job, but also the right to call the defensive signals in the huddle.So far, he’s flashed the speed to make plays from sideline to sideline and deliver game-changing ones, too.But Leonard’s best attribute might be his attitude.He’s eager to clean up mistakes, remains humble and enjoys breaking down game tapes.That’s hardly a surprise from someone who helped decipher prep games so he could help coach players at his high school while he was in college.“I just work hard and just take coaching,” he said. “That’s the big thing, I take all the coaching I can get, follow all the details and do all the little things.”It’s made a huge difference in one of the league’s most inexperienced linebacker groups.Leonard, Walker and free-agent signee linebacker Najee Goode have combined for 12 NFL starts 鈥?exactly half coming during the first two weeks this season.And, so far, Leonard has been the star with back-to-back memorable performances that have surprised the doubters but nobody in the Colts’ locker room.“As a rookie, it’s hard to find someone like that 鈥?someone who prepares the way he prepares. The things that he does really sets him apart,” Walker said.“He’s miles ahead of where I was last year and just the confidence and stuff he plays with, he’s miles ahead of me.” Offense wins championships in the new NFL.For the first time since the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002, none of the teams playing in the conference title game have a defense ranked in the top 10 in total yards. Only New England is among the top 10 in fewest points allowed.But the Chiefs, Patriots, Saints and Rams do possess the four most prolific offenses in the league. That's the first time the four highest-scoring teams play for the conference championship during the Super Bowl era.It's fitting one of those teams will win the Vince Lombardi Trophy because offense dominated in 2018. The 1,371 touchdowns scored were the most in a season in league history, and the 11,952 points scored were the second-most ever.The two teams with the stingiest defenses 鈥?Chicago and Baltimore 鈥?reached the playoffs but lost at home in the wild-card round."You have explosive players in the postseason, guys who are extremely talented, guys who are represented in the Pro Bowl T.Y. Hilton Jersey , the All-Pro team," Saints coach Sean Payton said Wednesday.The success starts at quarterback with Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff leading the way. Brady's Patriots are the only team of the four that didn't average at least 30 points, scoring 27.3. Kansas City led the way at 35.3 with Mahomes throwing 50 touchdown passes. Los Angeles was next at 32.9 and New Orleans averaged 31.5.Elite QBs aren't the only thing these teams have in common. The Rams, Patriots and Saints were among the top six in rushing.C.J. Anderson (123 yards) and Todd Gurley (115) had big games as Los Angeles ran for 273 yards in a 30-22 win against Dallas in the divisional round.Sony Michel ran for 129 yards and three TDs in New England's 41-28 victory over the Chargers last week. Brady also threw for 343 yards.Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for 124 yards rushing as New Orleans held on to beat Philadelphia 20-14. Brees had 301 yards passing and two scores."They can beat you in both ways, they can run it or they can throw it," Rams coach Sean McVay said of the Saints. "That's what really presents such a great challenge because they've got a Hall of Fame quarterback and they got an elite running back, and they've got a great system."The Chiefs were in the middle of the pack on the ground during the season, but Damien Williams had 129 yards in a 31-13 rout聽of the Colts."Andy's an offensive coach, so the offensive plays they get on special teams and the offensive plays they get on offense, when you combine all of that together, it's a lot of firepower and a lot of explosive plays," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of the Chiefs. "Andy's teams are always tough, well-disciplined. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They make you beat them, and that's hard to do because they're sound and he gets good players and he coaches them well and they're tough."Other than Belichick, each team has offensive-minded coaches. Payton, Reid and McVay earned their way on that side of the ball. The 32-year-old McVay is the youngest coach to win a playoff game.Both games are rematches from thrilling, high-scoring contests in the regular season.The Patriots (12-5) beat the Chiefs (14-3) 43-40 at home in October. The Saints (14-3) defeated the Rams (14-3) 45-35 at home in November.Here's a look inside more numbers heading into championship Sunday:THREE'S COMPANYThe Patriots are trying to join Buffalo (1990-93) and Miami (1971-73) as the third team to reach the Super Bowl three consecutive seasons.HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGEIf the Saints and Chiefs win, it'll be the 14th time since 1975 that the two top seeds meet in the Super Bowl and the fifth time in six years.100View Gallery Gallery:View from the sidelines: NFL cheerleaders 2018Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports | Raj Mehta
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