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Colts’ Darius Leonard opens up about playing undersized

Darius Leonard, Colts

When you think of an NFL linebacker, you think of a 240-pound or 250-pound beast who is freakishly athletic in addition to being one of the biggest players on the field, but the latter is not always the case.

Take Indianapolis Colts star linebacker Darius Leonard, for example. Leonard has played just one season in the NFL, but he is already widely regarded as one of the best linebackers in football.

During his rookie campaign in 2018, Leonard racked up a league-leading 163 tackles to go along with seven sacks, a couple of interceptions, four forced fumbles, a pair of fumble recoveries and eight passes defended en route to a Pro Bowl appearance and a First-Team All-Pro selection.

But Leonard did all of that playing at about 215 pounds, which is generally the size of an NFL safety.

Still, the 23-year-old says his size does not matter when it comes to his production:

“I’ll be fine. It’s not about weight,” said Leonard, according to Stephen Holder of The Athletic. “You look at a lot of linebackers, like Jacksonville. Telvin Smith played around 210. It’s the size of the fight that’s in the dog. I don’t care if I’m 205. I’m going to go out and try to make every tackle I can.”

Darius Leonard is going into training camp weighing 220, but Holder noted that he will “inevitably” lose some of that weight.

The Nichols, S.C. native, who played his collegiate football at South Carolina State, was originally selected by the Colts in the second round (36th pick overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft.