A Colt by every other identify: Leonard drops Darius

WESTFIELD, Ind. — The identify Darius Leonard has turn into synonymous with defensive playmaking within the NFL.

However the Indianapolis Colts All-Professional linebacker now not needs to be referred to by that identify.

When Leonard reported to coaching camp Tuesday, he requested reporters to name him Shaquille, which is his center identify and the identify most individuals in his life use to confer with him.

“I glided by Shaquille my entire life,” Leonard stated. “My mother known as me Shaquille, my household known as me Shaquille, my family and friends known as me Shaquille. I solely glided by Darius in class or if I used to be in bother. As soon as I received to the NFL, that is when individuals began calling me Darius. I hate it, however coming in as a rookie, I figured they did not need a rookie coming in saying to name him a distinct identify. So, I simply went with it.”

Even after profitable Defensive Rookie of the Yr in 2018, Leonard did not communicate up about his needs. Now, as he begins his fifth season, he lastly is making his place identified.

“Coming into my rookie 12 months, speaking to [Hall of Fame wide receiver] Randy Moss, he stated the most effective recommendation he may give me was to maintain your mouth closed and your ears and eyes open,” Leonard stated. “So, I got here in and labored. I did not need to are available and be handled particular. In the event that they known as me Darius Leonard, I imply, that’s my identify. That is simply what I went [by]. I did not need to trigger any issues.

“However I really like being known as Shaquille and hate being known as Darius. I perceive it is going to be onerous, however I might love if y’all would attempt to name me Shaquille or ‘D’ or ‘Maniac’ and never Darius.”

Leonard begins camp on the bodily unable to carry out listing after present process again surgical procedure in June. He elaborated for the primary time on his situation, explaining that two disks in his again had been impinging on two nerves and, consequently, inflicting lower-leg ache. The crew had been looking in useless for the supply of that ache earlier than finally discovering the nerve challenge, Leonard stated.

Leonard underwent ankle surgical procedure in the course of the 2021 offseason to deal with “calcification” within the joint, he stated. When ache endured all through the season, Leonard was left to play harm.

Now, although, he is already feeling reduction and is optimistic in regards to the eventual end result.

“Now we have discovered the supply of the entire downside,” Leonard stated, “and we’ll be able to rock and roll.”

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