While spending the past three weeks in concussion protocol, Leonard didn't spend much time at the facility except to get tests. He spent plenty of time at home with his wife and daughter while dealing with headaches from what ended up being a pretty severe concussion.
During two of the games, Leonard was at home wearing his helmet and jersey while his teammates played. He provided commentary, tweeting to more than 43,000 Twitter followers and switching rooms to watch the games.
“It was tough, especially being at home. That was one of the hardest things, not being able to be with the guys, especially in that crunch-time game against Kansas City [in Week 5],” Leonard said. “You want to be there for your guys. So I let them know that I was watching, and I had the same intensity that I would have had on the field. I brought it to Twitter and let them know I was watching.”
The concussion happened on the first play of the second drive against Tennessee in Week 2. Or maybe it was the first play of the third drive.
Leonard was not cleared from the protocol until last week.
“Me and [Titans running back] Derrick Henry met in the hole,” Leonard said Monday.
Leonard said he felt fatigued and had a headache after making a tackle, but he thought it was due to the heat at Nissan Stadium, where the temperature was above 90 degrees that afternoon. It wasn’t until after he got out the shower following the game that he thought he was suffering from concussion symptoms.
Leonard, who led the NFL in tackles (163) and was an All-Pro as a rookie in 2018, is back and ready for Sunday’s key game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Safety Clayton Geathers, who missed the Week 5 game at Kansas City because of a concussion, has cleared protocol as well.
Leonard watched the first game he missed -- Week 3 against Atlanta -- at home while wearing his helmet and No. 53 jersey because it was only the second game he had missed in his NFL career. He was at Lucas Oil Stadium for the Colts’ Week 4 loss to Oakland before he was relegated to watching the game against Kansas City at home, and then he put on his uniform again.
The week of the Chiefs game, it appeared that Leonard was on his way to returning. He was a limited participant in practice the three days leading up to the game before he was officially ruled out on Oct. 4.
“I was down on myself,” said Leonard, who missed a game in college at South Carolina State because of a concussion. “To cheer myself up, I put on a helmet. I put on my jersey just to get my personality back because with the concussion, I wasn’t myself. I had to do something to get my spirits up.”
Leonard is the first to say that he is superstitious. That’s why it wasn't surprising that he had the games on three different televisions at his house and watched on one before switching rooms when things weren’t going well for the Colts.
Leonard won't have to worry about that this weekend, as his focus will be trying to slow down a Houston offense that's sixth in the NFL in yards per game (396.8) and eighth in points per game (27.0).
"This team has some really talented players on offense," Colts coach Frank Reich said. "You can tell they’re smart football players and physically talented players. We need as many as those guys as well. When [Texans quarterback] Deshaun Watson gets in the open field, Darius can make it interesting, and not many guys can. You need guys like Darius that can make it interesting."