A Colt by every other identify: Leonard drops Darius

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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 complete life,” Leonard mentioned. “My mother referred to as me Shaquille, my household referred to as me Shaquille, my family and friends referred to as me Shaquille. I solely glided by Darius at school or if I used to be in bother. As soon as I obtained to the NFL, that is when folks began calling me Darius. I hate it, however coming in as a rookie, I figured they did not desire a rookie coming in saying to name him a special identify. So, I simply went with it.”

Even after successful Defensive Rookie of the 12 months 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 yr, speaking to [Hall of Fame wide receiver] Randy Moss, he mentioned the very best recommendation he might give me was to maintain your mouth closed and your ears and eyes open,” Leonard mentioned. “So, I got here in and labored. I did not need to are available in and be handled particular. In the event that they referred to 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 like being referred to as Shaquille and hate being referred to as Darius. I perceive it should be exhausting, however I’d 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 checklist after present process again surgical procedure in June. He elaborated for the primary time on his situation, explaining that two disks in his again have been impinging on two nerves and, consequently, inflicting lower-leg ache. The workforce had been looking in useless for the supply of that ache earlier than in the end discovering the nerve difficulty, Leonard mentioned.

Leonard underwent ankle surgical procedure through the 2021 offseason to handle “calcification” within the joint, he mentioned. When ache persevered all through the season, Leonard was left to play damage.

Now, although, he is already feeling reduction and is optimistic concerning the eventual final result.

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

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