Colts rookie Darius Leonard named AFC Defensive Player of the Month

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 02: Darius Leonard #53 of the Indianapolis Colts warms up on the field prior to the start of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on December 02, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indianapolis Colts rookie linebacker Darius Leonard may not have made the Pro Bowl, but he’s making sure the NFL notices his impact on the field.

The league named Leonard the AFC Defensive Player of the Month for December, the first time he’s won the award in his career. The only other Colts rookie to win the monthly award was Edgerrin James, who was named Offensive Player of the Month in November of 1999.

In December, Leonard racked up 49 tackles (34 solo), 3 tackles for loss, a sack, 5 passes defensed and an interception. He excelled in games against the Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 13; 9 tackles (4 solo) and 1 tackle for loss), Houston Texans (Week 14; 12 tackles (9 solo), 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack and 1 pass defensed), Dallas Cowboys (Week 15; 11 tackles (9 solo), 1 tackle for loss and 2 passes defensed), New York Giants (Week 16; 9 tackles (8 solo)) and Tennessee Titans (Week 17; 8 tackles (4 solo), 2 passes defensed and an interception).

The award comes on the heels of Leonard’s selection as AFC Defensive Player of the Week for the Titans game. His interception with under two minutes left sealed the victory and clinched a playoff berth for the team.

Leonard has had a monster of a season for Indianapolis. He finished the regular season with a league-leading 163 tackles and also added 12 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 8 passes defensed, 2 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. Among rookies, he ranks in the top ten in tackles (first), tackles for loss (second), sacks (second), passes defensed (ninth), interceptions (tied for seventh), forced fumbles (first) and fumble recoveries (tied for first).

Leonard is the second Colts player to earn a Player of the Month honor this season. Andrew Luck was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month in November.

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