Colts’ linebacker Darius Leonard named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month

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Running back Wendell Smallwood #28 runs for a first down against linebacker Darius Leonard #53 on September 23, 2018 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Darius Leonard has set himself apart during the first month of his NFL career, and joined an exclusive club Thursday.

The Indianapolis Colts’ rookie linebacker has been named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for September.

Leonard is just the fifth Colt and second defensive player to earn the league’s monthly honor. The previous ones: running backs Edgerrin James (September and November, 1999) and Dominic Rhodes (December, 2001), and defensive end Dwight Freeney (November and December, 2002).

“We took Darius Leonard for a reason,’’ general manager Chris Ballard said during a radio interview this week.

That reason: defensive impact.

Leonard, the 36th overall selection in the April draft, has fulfilled those expectations.

In four games, all starts, he leads the league in total tackles (54) and solos (38). He ranks third in tackles for loss (7) and tied for sixth in sacks (4). Leonard is the only player in the league with at least 25 tackles and 4 sacks.

Since 1994, Leonard’s 54 tackles are the most by a player in his first four games. He piled up 19 tackles in week 2 against Washington, the most ever by a Colts rookie and the most by a Colt since Pat Angerer had 20 in 2011.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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