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Sport 'Hard Knocks' Power Rankings: Darius Leonard, Jim Irsay among winners in mid-season debut featuring Colts

18:06  18 november  2021
18:06  18 november  2021 Source:   cbssports.com

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The Indianapolis Colts are in the midst of a playoff run at 5-5, a perfect team to be featured on the first midseason edition of 'Hard Knocks.' After a disappointing summer edition featuring the Dallas Cowboys, HBO and NFL Films introduced a new twist to the series, following a team and the challenges they face during the season.

a football player is up to bat at a ball: INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 20: Darius Leonard #53 of the Indianapolis Colts in action in the game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  © Provided by CBS Sports

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 20: Darius Leonard #53 of the Indianapolis Colts in action in the game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Indianapolis recovering from an 0-3 start and rallying to a 5-5 record in a crazy AFC is the perfect scenario for 'Hard Knocks' over the final eight weeks. This week's premiere featured a season recap how the Colts got to 4-5 and how the team prepared for the Week 10 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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The episode was different than previous editions of 'Hard Knocks' and certainly had its moments following NFL stars Carson Wentz and Darius Leonard -- two "girl dads" that introduced us to their personal lives this week. Let's break down the winners and losers of the midseason premiere.

Winner: Darius Leonard

Leonard was the star of the show, on and off the field. The Colts All-Pro linebacker, listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, had some gripes about his weight on the practice field during the week to Colts staffers. Leonard earned the "maniac" nickname during his senior year at South Carolina State, and went maniacal at Colts staffers about his frame.

"Tired of hearing about my weight," Leonard said. "It's been the same thing since 2018. 220. 8% body fat...They said I was too small in high school, too small in college, too small in the league. It's crazy.

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"The smallest guy on the field always produces. I just want a little bit of respect."

Leonard has two interceptions and four forced fumbles this season -- on his way to another All-Pro campaign. The Colts can leave him alone about his weight.

Loser: Urban Meyer

Part of the reason the Colts were able to take an early lead on the Jaguars in Sunday's contest was because Urban Meyer revealed the adjustments to his defense in a press conference that caught notice of Colts head coach Frank Reich. Meyer said the Jaguars have morphed to a zone defense, which helped them hold the Buffalo Bills to six points.

Reich pointed out to the coaching staff in a meeting that was an "interesting" comment. Basically Reich thanked Meyer for the information as he used Jonathan Taylor early and often in Sunday's win -- as Taylor had 93 of his 116 rushing yards in the first quarter.

Thanks Urban.

Winner: Girl dads

This week's episode featured all the Colts' players that had wives expecting children, mainly Wentz and his wife Madison awaiting the birth of their second daughter, Hudson Rose (who was born Tuesday). Wentz was already committed to playing in Sunday's game with Madison watching from the suite in Lucas Oil Stadium -- one day away from incision. As Wentz pointed out this week, he didn't get a lot of sleep over the last few days.

Ryan Kelly had a gender reveal on the Jumbotron at Lucas Oil Stadium, same with Mark Glowinski -- with Wentz on FaceTime watching. Both are expecting girls.

Finally, the show goes to Leonard -- showing his life as a girl dad. Leonard, battling an ankle injury that has lasted throughout the year, alleviates the pain by spending time with his daughter Mia. Leonard brushes Mia's teeth and tries to do her hair, but admits he only knows the ponytail -- which is what he goes with.

During the game, Mia was seen with Kayla Leonard (Darius' wife) sitting on her lap and sipping a cup of Sprite. The Leonard's sat in the same suite as the Wentz's, as Hadley (Wentz's first born) comes over to hug Mia during the game. Madison Wentz tells Kayla Leonard she's practicing being a big sister, a very cute moment.

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After the game, Mia is more than energetic as her father is home for some down time resting his ankle. Darius asked Mia how many cups of Sprite she had. Leonard made it clear with Mia's age, he leaves work at work -- making sure he has a smile on his face when he gets home.

Loser: Carson Wentz to Indianapolis

The Reich relationship with Wentz goes back to their days with the Philadelphia Eagles, as Reich described how the pairing was great from the start when he hopped into Wentz's truck after a pre-draft workout at North Dakota State in 2016.

"I thought he in a very mature way connected faith and football. I quoted a verse to him, 1 Peter 3:15," Reich said. "When we pulled up to the facility, he said, 'Look at my screensaver.' He had that verse on his screensaver. That's where we connected."

When Wentz's days in Philadelphia were numbered, Reich told Colts general manager Chris Ballard that Wentz "has what it takes," spearheading the Colts' pursuit of Wentz. There was a huge opportunity missed.

Wentz really hasn't discussed what went wrong in Philadelphia and if the Eagles wanted to move on from him or if he wanted to move on (or both). He was hoping to be reunited with Reich again, but not many details of the trade were told from the Wentz point of view.

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This is a subject Wentz really doesn't like to talk about. Him opening up to HBO would have made this episode even better, especially since part of the premiere focused on the Reich-Wentz backstory.

Winner: Jim Irsay

Irsay wasn't featured much in the premiere, but his presence was felt. After the Colts' Week 7 win over the San Francisco 49ers to get to 3-4, a fired up Irsay made a speech in the locker room that he wanted the Colts to follow.

Naturally the Colts followed after Irsay started the beat.

Irsay was at his finest there -- an episode that didn't feature much of the Colts' vocal owner. This was the perfect moment for Irsay and how the team loves working for him.

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