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Colts' Darius Leonard 'Shocked' By Pro Bowl Honor

Snubbed as a rookie despite leading the NFL in tackles in 2018, Leonard receives Pro Bowl nod along with offensive guard Quenton Nelson, who was named for second consecutive season.

INDIANAPOLIS — Before regrouping and resetting the mindset to try to finish a 6-8 season with two wins, the Indianapolis Colts took time to appreciate offensive guard Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard being named to the Pro Bowl.

While both honors should have been expected, considering Nelson and Leonard were named first-team All-Pro as rookies in 2018, Leonard said he actually expected to get snubbed for the Pro Bowl like last year.

Leonard and his wife were on their way to an Indiana Pacers game when he received the news in a phone call from head coach Frank Reich on Tuesday night.

“I was definitely shocked,” Leonard said on Wednesday. “I wasn’t going to look for it. I was excited, told the wife, and went from there.”

To say this had added significance would be an understatement, considering Leonard used last year’s snub as motivation. He led the NFL in tackles as a rookie, yet watched as Nelson received the Pro Bowl nod and he did not.

“It means a lot, especially coming from where I came from, the adversity that I had to go through,” said Leonard, who wasn’t drafted until the second round because he came from a smaller school, South Carolina State.

“Coming here, I’ve just proven everybody wrong. It kind of feels good.”

Despite missing three games due to injury, Leonard has a team-leading 104 tackles including 63 solos, six tackles for loss, five sacks, six passes defended, four interceptions including one returned for a touchdown and two forced fumbles. His tackle total is tied for 21st. Leonard had 163 total tackles in 15 games last season. He’s the first NFL player since 1982 to have 10-plus sacks and five-plus interceptions in his first 25 games.

“It says that all the players and all the coaches are seeing what I’m doing, their respecting everything I’m doing,” he said. “I’m just very honored.”

Nelson, who isn’t keen on doing many interviews or talking too much, prefers to let his play speak for him. He’s just the fourth Colts player in team history to earn Pro Bowl hours in his first two seasons, joining quarterback Andrew Luck, running back Edgerrin James, running back Marshall Faulk and running back Alan Ameche.

Seven Colts were selected as Pro Bowl alternates: quarterback Jacoby Brissett, offensive left tackle Anthony Castonzo, tight end Jack Doyle, defensive end Justin Houston, center Ryan Kelly, running back Marlon Mack and long snapper Luke Rhodes.

The Colts, officially eliminated from AFC playoff contention by Monday’s 34-7 loss at New Orleans, host Carolina (5-9) on Sunday before wrapping up the season at Jacksonville (5-9) the following Sunday.