For the first time, HBO's Hard Knocks is following a team during the season, rather than before it.
Thus, Hard Knocks In Season: The Indianapolis Colts will run every Wednesday until the end of the Colts' season and that proposition is what's staring directly at the team from here on out.
With a victory on Sunday in Week 18 against the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14), the Colts (9-7) will punch their playoff tickets. Should Indianapolis get upset, it would need some help to ensure a postseason berth. So, going forward, every game for the Colts could very well be their last of the season.
Therefore it might well be the worst time for a bad practice, which is a message Colts Pro Bowl linebacker Darius Leonard made loud and clear in Wednesday's eighth episode.
"Today's practice wasn't up to our standards," Leonard said last week during a Zoom meeting ahead of Indy's Week 17 game against the Las Vegas Raiders. "Everybody should know that. You gotta understand that we only get one opportunity at this. That's all it is. All that shit today that was going on in practice, we gotta understand that we better than that. If y'all want this thing to go great, it's on us. It's on us to be great in practice. That's where it's got to start at. I'm not asking nobody to do anything or be anything that you're not. I just want the best version of yourself, you knowing your job. I'm gonna know my job and let's get this thing going in the right direction. Today was unacceptable fellas. And coach shouldn't even have to say anything. The guys in the positions groups should say, 'OK guys, let's be great, let's hold each other accountable. And let's be the best defense in the National Football League, not just in our division."
The Colts lost to the Raiders last Sunday, 23-20.
Leonard has been a constant and memorable presence on this season of Hard Knocks.
Wednesday's episode was no different, as the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker delivered an emphatic message to his team that only a single chance is had and that he and his defensive teammates can be the best in the league.
We'll see if the message delivered at practice and on Hard Knocks is received this week and plays out as such on Sunday.