Race to 40: Colts defense sets takeaway bar high

Indianapolis Colts

WESTFIELD – The 2019 Steelers came close with 38. The 2015 Panthers and 2013 Seahawks each had 39. However, it has been nine years since an NFL defense recorded 40 takeaways, a feat last accomplished by both the Bears and the Patriots in 2012.

The 2021 Colts hope to be next.

“If you look at the tape we’re always punching (the ball), we’re always stripping,” says linebacker Darius Leonard.

Few players across the NFL take the ball away as often as The Maniac, with seven interceptions and nine forced fumbles in his three seasons in the league.

That frequency is not by accident.

“It’s going to take repetition in practice, then we get in the game, when the moment comes you’ve got to seize the moment,” he explains. “It becomes muscle memory. It’s all about repetition. If you do it in practice day in and day out then in the game it’s going to be second nature to you. You’re going to (be) punching, you’re going to be scooping, you’re going to be scoring and stuff like that.”

The fact remains: 40 takeaways is a lofty goal, and one only achieved by elite, team defenses, not only elite players. So can the Colts rise up to that level?

According to Leonard, they were close to it last season.

“If you look at the missed opportunities (for takeaways) that we had last year, I had six,” he adds. “Other guys had a dropped interception or the forced fumbles that we had, we don’t scoop it up. It’s realistic. We think that we can shatter that goal.”

The Colts play their second game of the preseason Saturday night in Minnesota, taking on the Vikings in an 8:00 p.m. kickoff, broadcast in Central Indiana on FOX59.

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