Head coach Frank Reich did not sound very confident that Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard would be ready for the start of training camp when he told reporters that Leonard underwent back surgery on June 7.
So it should come as little surprise that the linebacker will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list. The Colts officially announced on July 24 that they had placed Leonard on the PUP list.
In addition to Leonard, the Colts placed defensive end Tyquan Lewis, safety Rodney McLeod and wide receiver Mike Strachan on the PUP list. Indianapolis also placed defensive tackle Eric Johnson II on the active/non-football injury list.
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Leonard Missing Another July
The Colts linebacker has undergone two surgeries in the last 13 months. Leonard had a procedure done on his ankle in July 2021. The surgery caused him to miss the beginning of training camp last year as well.
But it’s a little bit more important for Leonard to practice some this summer than last year. The Colts have a new defensive system under coordinator Gus Bradley.
Reich was telling reporters in May and early June that Leonard was not participating during voluntary offseason workouts because his ankle didn’t feel 100%. But a back issue for Leonard surfaced this offseason as well.
“[The back issue] just kind of got worse rather than better,” Reich told reporters on June 7. “But because he wasn’t practicing, you don’t even know that. Because he’s not practicing because of the ankle.”
Reich also said on June 7 that Leonard would definitely miss “some training camp time.” But a week later, staff writer Zak Keefer of The Athletic reported Leonard could return near the start of training camp.
Reich and the Colts will likely update Leonard’s status on the first few days of training camp.
Leonard to be Ready for Regular Season?
While fans will need to wait a couple extra days for another update on Leonard, there have been no indications that he won’t be back for the regular season. Reich and Keefer’s report following his surgery on June 7 expressed confidence that the linebacker would be back long before September.
Based on Keefer’s timeline, it’s possible Leonard could return before the Colts face the Buffalo Bills in their first preseason game on August 13.
The back surgery is also suppose to solve the continued problems the linebacker has experienced in his left ankle and calf.
Leonard is entering his fifth NFL season and has made first-team All Pro each of the last two years. He also made first-team All Pro and won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2018.
In 58 career games, Leonard has posted 538 combined tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 20 quarterback hits, 15.0 sacks and 11 interceptions. He’s the only player in the NFL with more than 10 sacks and 10 interceptions since 2018.
He also has 30 pass defenses and 17 forced fumbles in his career.
Last season, Leonard registered 122 combined tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 quarterback hits, 8 pass defenses and 4 interceptions. He led the NFL with 8 forced fumbles as well.