Colts Place LB Darius Leonard On PUP List

The Colts have placed linebacker Darius Leonard on the PUP list, as Stephen Holder of writes. This was the expected move after Leonard underwent back surgery in June.

It seems that a nerve issue in Leonard’s back caused the ankle pain that ailed him throughout the 2021 season and continued to give him trouble this spring (despite the fact that he had the ankle operated on in June 2021). Per Holder, the team has not indicated when Leonard will return to the field, but the most recent reporting on the matter suggested that he would be available near the start of training camp, which opens this week.

Despite the injury concerns, Leonard performed at his usual stellar level in 2021, earning his third First Team All-Pro bid in his fourth professional season. Pro Football Focus assigned him a 79.0 overall grade, which was the sixth-highest mark among all qualified LBs and Leonard’s best showing since 2018, when he led the league with 163 total tackles and earned Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

The centerpiece of Indianapolis’ defense, Leonard offers considerable playmaking ability along with his tackling acumen. He has accrued 11 interceptions and 17 forced fumbles in his career, including four picks and an NFL-best eight FFs last season. His efforts landed him a five-year, $99.25MM extension last August, which made him the highest-paid off-ball ‘backer in league history in terms of AAV. Obviously, his health will be one of the Colts’ primary concerns heading into the 2022 season.

Joining Leonard on the PUP list are defensive end Tyquan Lewis, safety Rodney McLeod, and wideout Mike Strachan. DT Eric Johnson, a fifth-round rookie, is on the NFI list.

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