AFC Notes: Colts, Jaguars, Texans


Colts LB Darius Leonard was dealing with a lot of issues during the 2021 season, which came to a head when the team lost the final game of the year against the Jaguars and were eliminated from the playoffs.

“I fell out of love with the game,” Leonard said, via Mike Wells of ESPN. “I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. The first month, I didn’t wanna go home, didn’t wanna be around anybody, didn’t wanna face it yet. Because the question was gonna come: What the hell happened in Jacksonville? And at that moment, I really didn’t know what happened. You hold in all your emotions. You put a smile on so many other people’s faces, and at the time that you need it — a lot of people who are around you, see you smile all the time; they don’t understand that just because I smile sometimes, I ask everybody how they’re doing — sometimes it’s OK to ask me how am I doing? Ask and truly have a conversation with me and understand that I’m human, too. I have problems. I go through a lot of things that a lot of people are going through. … You sit here and you feel like you have to hold a shade up with your personal life because your football life eats you up, and I just wasn’t in a good mental place because I wouldn’t be around my family whenever they needed it.”

Leonard is no longer dealing with a pesky ankle injury heading into 2022 and is happy to be joined by CB Stephon Gilmore and DE Yannick Ngakoue on defense.

“Made me happy, especially with the rush, helping [DeForest Buckner] and [Kwity Paye], adding [Ngakoue] and a shutdown corner in Gilmore,” Leonard said. “You think about all the takeaways we’re going to have. Stephon is great at tracking the ball. It’s a better opportunity for us to get more takeaways. … We have to have 40-plus takeaways in the season.”


Jaguars HC Doug Pederson discussed the team’s situation at left guard with reporters. He added that at this point in time, G Ben Bartch is the current starter.

“Ben [Bartch]’s obviously the guy right now, but listen, it’s still a young offseason right now and we’re rotating a lot of guys in there,” Pederson said, via “KC [McDermott]’s been in there, [Coy] Cronk’s been in there, so we’re kind of rotating those guys right now. We feel it’s valuable this team of year to really get the versatility out of these guys.”


Texans HC Lovie Smith loves the effort he saw on tape from rookie RB Dameon Pierce and is excited to have such a powerful back on the roster.

“We drafted Dameon in mind with having a guy that can get yards in between the tackles,” Smith said, via “He is a tough football player, confident football player. We feel like we have a role for him. You can’t ever have too many good running backs. I think as you look at our running back position, they all bring something a little bit different, a little bit unique to the position.”

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