Darius Leonard underwent back surgery recently; the rehab effort may prevent the All-Pro Colts linebacker from beginning training camp on time. More clarity emerged on the injury. Leonard played through an ankle problem last season, and ex-Colts punter-turned-radio host Pat McAfee said recently (via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star) a nerve issue in Leonard’s back caused the ankle trouble. More specifically, Leonard’s ankle injury lingered because of a calf issue Erickson tweets was caused by the back problem. The aforementioned nerve issue prevented Leonard’s calf from full functionality. Leonard still played 91% of Indianapolis’ defensive snaps last season and, boosted by a career-high eight forced fumbles, earned his third first-team All-Pro nod. Despite this complex issue leading to back surgery, the Colts are still expecting Leonard to return near the start of camp, per Erickson.
Here is the latest from the AFC South:
- Previously mentioned as a potential left guard option, Titans 2021 second-round pick Dillon Radunz is now concentrating on the right tackle battle. With Radunz and rookie third-rounder Nicholas Petit-Frere matching up outside, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com notes former UDFA Aaron Brewer and ex-Seahawks backup Jamarco Jones are vying for the left guard gig (Twitter link). The Titans must replace cap casualty Rodger Saffold and free agency defection David Quessenberry — their latest right tackle stopgap — up front this year. Both 2021 starters are with the Bills now.
- The groin injury Jaguars backup quarterback C.J. Beathard sustained is not expected to keep him out of training camp, Doug Pederson said. But the Jags received worse injury news on another front. Linebacker Jordan Smith will miss the season with a knee injury. A 2021 fourth-round pick, Smith played in two games last season.
- Shifting back to the Colts, Morocco Brown‘s promotion will be from college scouting director to chief personnel executive, the Indianapolis Star’s Nate Atkins notes. Brown interviewed for the Steelers’ GM job and the Eagles’ assistant GM job this offseason. This will be his sixth year with the Colts. Matt Terpening will take over as Indy’s college scouting director, with area scout Jamie Moore rising to the assistant college scouting director post Terpening held for the past six years. Terpening has been with the Colts for 22 years.
- Additionally, the Colts are naming Kasia Omilian as an NFS scout. Omilian, who will be identifying players for future drafts, becomes the first woman to hold a scouting title with the Colts, Mike Chappell of Fox 59 notes. Omilian has been with the team since 2019. Mike Lacy will rise from the NFS scout level to be an area scout for the team.
3 comments on “AFC South Notes: Colts, Radunz, Jaguars”
I always love reading stories how player X played through the season while him & the team knew he was injured. Then listen to the NFL say with a straight face “Player safety is paramount!’.
I’d say the team knowing he needed back surgery and still played football is the exact opposite of safety. I get the competitive nature of why a player will ‘gut it out’. But that doesn’t mean it was safe or wise to do so. That’s the teams responsibility to its employees to step in. None do. Keep playing is their motto.
I’m not sure this situation applies. Leonard had ankle surgery before back surgery. It sounds like the nerve issue was discovered because his ankle rehab wasn’t progressing. Further diagnosis showed the nerve was the contributor, not the actual ankle.
I agree, the issues are more immediately obvious after season’s end when everything slows down. Offseason for players=playoffs for surgeons.
That said, the main reason for that is what arty alluded to. None of these players want to stop midseason to deal with an injury, and no team wants to lose an option either-especially a starter. Would a team deny a player surgery if he found out that he really needed it? No, usually not, but the team and the player both know what’s at stake (playing-wise and financially) if he does find out that he needs to miss time. It’s an understood acknowledgement.
I mean, most of these guys don’t have much guaranteed money if they end up getting cut. So most guys wait until the offseason, either due to their own competitiveness or financial situation if they lack guarantees, or due to implied pressure from the team. Either way, both parties hope that playing on the injury won’t affect future performance, which I think is the single biggest argument for getting things resolved instead of just playing through it, if you don’t care about the player’s health. Baker Mayfield is the current case in point here-that was a bad decision by Baker due to his competitiveness and worse handled by the team in letting him play at all and for so long.