Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich revealed during his first media availability at minicamp that inside linebacker Darius Leonard will not undergo surgery to fix a lingering ankle injury this offseason. Leonard had surgery on his left ankle last July and played through pain last season.
But Reich also told reporters on June 7 that Leonard was going to have surgery on his back that same day.
“We continue to monitor his ankle. He is not going to need a second procedure, but he’s not here because what has happened is he had a back issue that has kind of been a progressive thing that started early in the offseason and was fine, but it’s just been something that’s progressed,” Reich said. “We just recently made the evaluation that – consulting with Darius, doctors and trainers – that he’s going to have a procedure done on his back.
“In fact, it was today.”
Following the procedure, the inside linebacker tweeted that the surgery went well and expressed his excitement about getting back on the field.
“Let’s go man — ankle feels amazing and can’t wait to get back moving!”
ALL the latest Colts news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Colts newsletter here!
Darius Leonard Dealing with Multiple Injuries This Offseason
Up until June 7, there were no reports of Leonard dealing with any kind of back injury. He reportedly didn’t participate in voluntary offseason workouts as a precaution due to his left ankle feeling less than 100%.
But in addition to the lingering left ankle problem, a back issue also surfaced for Leonard this offseason. Reich described that the team elected to “keep an eye on” the back issue and initially “not overreact,” but then it wasn’t getting any better.
“It just kind of got worse rather than better,” Reich said. “But because he wasn’t practicing, you don’t even know that. Because he’s not practicing because of the ankle.”
Clearly, the back injury is now the most concerning issue with Leonard. It’s great to hear the surgery went well, but back surgeries are typically difficult rehab assignments.
Furthermore, the three-time first-team All-Pro will only have three months and three days to recover before the start of the regular season.
Timetable for Darius Leonard to Return
Ideally, the Indianapolis Colts would prefer Leonard back on the field well before the regular season. Indianapolis is installing a new defensive system under first-year defensive coordinator Gus Bradley this offseason.
But Leonard doesn’t necessarily need the preseason to be ready. Entering his fifth season, he’s a veteran that can prepare without many repetitions in July and August.
At least that’s the approach Reich is taking.
“I don’t know the exact timetable on the return, but you know, my mind is saying, ‘As long as he is ready for the regular season,’” Reich said. “You know what I mean? Does he need to play in the preseason? Sure. It’d be nice (for him) to play a little bit, but if that doesn’t happen, I’m not worried about it.”
Undergoing offseason surgery last summer as well, Leonard has experienced entering a season with limited offseason work. He missed parts of training camp in 2021 and still made the All-Pro team.
While Reich eventually said he didn’t know the exact timetable, he initially said Leonard would definitely miss “some training camp time” but “if all goes according to plan” will be ready for the regular season opener.