INDIANAPOLIS — Darius Leonard is never satisfied.
The Indianapolis Colts’ all-pro linebacker recorded his 300th career tackle during Sunday’s win against the Minnesota Vikings, becoming the first player since at least 1987 to reach the milestone in his first 30 games.
But the 25-year-old is hardly celebrating.
“Definitely just waiting until my career is over because when they told me, my teammates were congratulating me, and I’m like, ‘OK, just doing the math, that’s 10 tackles a game,’” Leonard said. “That’s not my standard. I’m (looking for) 15 tackles or more a game. If I didn’t do that, I didn’t have a great game.
“Am I blessed to have received that award? Yes. But, as of right now, it’s just 300 tackles, I guess.”
There’s truly nothing the man known as “The Maniac” won’t turn into a motivational tool.
That’s a good thing for this Colts defense, especially as it plays in front of miniscule crowds during an ongoing pandemic. The energy fans bring to the stadium is absent in 2020, requiring players to manufacture it for themselves.
Leonard said Indianapolis failed in that endeavor during a season-opening road loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Things turned around last week against the Vikings, in part because of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. The hulking all-pro literally threw aside 308-pound Minnesota guard Dru Samia before planting one of four punishing hits on quarterback Kirk Cousins.
It was a play that reportedly drew a loud reaction during Monday’s film session and one that still brought a smile to Leonard’s face three days later.
“It’s amazing,” Leonard said. “It’s a beautiful sight, I promise you, especially being on the second level and just watching (the defensive linemen) demolish everybody in front of them. DeForest Buckner, he killed a guy like he didn’t have a family in the stands.”
The Colts (1-1) host the New York Jets (0-2) on Sunday (4:05 p.m., CBS), and Leonard’s goal is to build off that energy.
“It was — just watching them guys eat up front, it’s so exciting, and it just gives you so much juice, watching your guys go to work and win their one-on-one battles,” Leonard said. “And I felt like that’s what made us a great defense last week. Just watching them work, and we were celebrating as a team, even though one guy is making the play. And I felt like Week 1, we didn’t do that. I felt like we were dead.
“I felt like we didn’t have energy, and last week we had energy ’cause we were out there making plays. The d-line was doing well, the defensive backs were doing well. We’ve just gotta continue to have that juice and that edge going into Week 3.”
Indianapolis is the only team in the NFL yet to record a traditional three-and-out this season.
The Colts have picked up at least one first down on 16 of their 19 drives. The other three ended with a pair of field goals and a third-down interception.
Rigoberto Sanchez has just two punts.
But the offense also has as many empty red-zone drives (four) as touchdown marches through the first two weeks.
“I’m glad to hear (about no three-and-outs), but really the stat I’m most interested in is points,” Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich said. “We’ve got to score more points, and that’s what we talked about this week. We’ve got to be better in the red zone. We have to eliminate the miscues, and we have to pay attention to the details that will get us back on track in the red zone.”
Tight end Jack Doyle (knee) returned to full practice Friday but is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Linebacker Matthew Adams (ankle) and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (illness) were ruled out. Buckner (back) did not participate in the week’s final practice but is expected to play against the Jets.
New York ruled out five players: wide receiver Jamison Crowder (hamstring), defensive back Ashtyn Davis (groin), right tackle George Fant (concussion), wide receiver Breshad Perriman (ankle) and former Colts cornerback Quincy Wilson (concussion).
Another former Indianapolis defender – cornerback Nate Hairston (hip) – is listed as questionable. Wide receiver Braxton Berrios (hamstring) and center Connor McGovern (hamstring) also received that designation.