Throughout the offseason, the health of Colts All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard has been a key talking point. After undergoing back surgery, his availability for training camp was in question. More importantly, the possibility that he could miss regular season action remains.
As FOX59’s Mike Chappell writes, “there’s no guarantee” that Leonard will be fully recovered in time for Week 1. The 27-year-old remains on the PUP list as he continues to recover, and hasn’t practiced at all this offseason. He expressed optimism about the success of the procedure, but declined to put a firm timetable on his rehab schedule.
“Shaq is preparing like he’s playing Week 1,” head coach Frank Reich said. “He’s doing a lot of extra work, and he’s getting his mind right, ready to play.”
A healthy Leonard would of course, be massive for the Colts’ defense. The former second-rounder earned Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors for the third time in his four-year career last season, totaling 122 tackles, four interceptions and a league-leading eight forced fumbles. The Colts would be well-served to make sure Leonard is back to full health before activating him, considering the fact he played on an injured ankle all of last season.
With more than $78MM on the five-year extension he signed still yet to paid, Indianapolis would also be wise from a financial standpoint to tread carefully. He could be activated by August 30 to remain eligible to play in the season opener, but if he remains on the PUP list beyond that date, he would be sidelined for the first month of the campaign. Much will therefore depend on how he heals in the coming weeks, as the Colts look to undo last season’s disappointing finish.