December 12, 2018 / 11:50 PM / 5 months ago

Colts LB Leonard enjoying historic rookie campaign

Nov 25, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard (53) carries his son as he walks off the field after the game against the Miami Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports - 11733030

Houston Texans: The end of a nine-game winning streak doesn’t feel good to the Texans, and outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney wants to make sure one setback doesn’t turn into a two-game skid when Houston visits the New York Jets on Saturday. “For sure. Trying to get back on that winning streak,” Clowney told reporters. “This is a big week for us. Coming off a loss, we have to bounce back. We need this game for the division, for everything. All these games are important, so we have to go up there and take care of business.” Safety Tyrann Mathieu said the players don’t need to hear anything from outsiders. “I don’t think anybody is a bigger critic (than we are),” Mathieu told reporters. “We always point the finger at each other. We’re going to hold each other accountable. At the end of the day, nobody’s expectations are higher than ours.”

Indianapolis Colts: Rookie weak-side linebacker Darius Leonard is enjoying a monumental season and has a league-high 135 tackles through his first 12 NFL games (he missed Week 5 with an ankle injury). The rookie record for tackles is held by former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis (174 in 2007) so Leonard needs to average 13.3 stops over the final three games to surpass him. The second-round choice from South Carolina State has exceeded all expectations, and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus feels Leonard can only get better. “He’s been able to handle a lot of things and also be able to execute at a high rate,” Eberflus told reporters of Leonard. “So we are excited where he is and he just needs to keep getting the looks and just keep playing faster and faster and faster, and more physical and just making more plays. That’s what he’s there for.”

Jacksonville Jaguars: Coach Doug Marrone is well aware that a 4-9 record with three weeks left isn’t the best evidence when it comes to job security. But he has decided to just do his job like he did last season, when the Jaguars reached the AFC title game. “Every day — same as last year,” Marrone told reporters after being asked about his job status. “I coach every day as if you’re always coaching for it. Everyone knows that. We all know that.” Of course, that also applies to players who will be analyzed closely as well. “You would hope they’re smart enough for that,” Marrone said. “People are going to evaluate everything. I’m sure after the season everything will be evaluated. With players, it’s the same way. They’re going to be evaluated on their performance.”

Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry’s mundane season changed with his franchise-record 238-yard performance against the Jaguars, and the Titans hope to keep the run game moving when they visit the New York Giants on Sunday. “We have to stay consistent,” Henry told reporters. “We have shown (we can do it), so why not? We have to keep that momentum going, stay focused, and don’t get complacent. We have to keep working to get better.” Quarterback Marcus Mariota is aware his squad is the low team in the pecking order of the four teams competing for the AFC’s second wild-card spot. “All you can worry about is what is going on here,” Mariota said. “If you try and sit there in the clouds and try and figure out all these scenarios, you get lost and don’t really focus on what you have to take care of.”

—Field Level Media

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