Colts Rule Out 2 Key Starters for Week 2 Rivalry Matchup

Frank Reich

Getty Head coach Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts have ruled out two key starters in Week 2.

The Indianapolis Colts will again be without arguably their best player on defense in Week 2. The Colts will be missing their top rookie draft pick as well.

Indianapolis announced on September 16 that linebacker Shaquille Leonard and wide receiver Alec Pierce will not play in Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Leonard is still recovering from back surgery while Pierce is in the concussion protocol after developing concussion-like symptoms following his NFL debut.

Three other key Colts starters are questionable for the matchup versus the Jaguars. The Athletic’s Zak Keefer reported wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr is questionable because of a quad injury that he sustained in practice.

Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and cornerback Kenny Moore II are also questionable because of hip injuries. Moore suffered his injury during practice as well.

Keefer tweeted that it “sounds like a good chance” Buckner and Moore will both play.

Leonard Practices, Won’t Play

The 3-time All-Pro linebacker was a full participant in practice all week, so it’s a bit disappointing that Leonard will not play in Week 2.

The linebacker explained to Keefer that he was “feeling better than last week,” with “practice going pretty smooth.” Leonard practiced in limited fashion on September 8 and 9 ahead of the Week 1 matchup with the Houston Texans on September 11.

Leonard underwent back surgery on June 7 to repair a nerve that gave him pain in his left calf and ankle during 2021. He played last season less than 100% despite having minor surgery on his left ankle in July 2021.

The linebacker missed training camp, returning to practice on August 31. He came off the PUP list on roster cut down day to begin practicing.

He’s progressed quickly in practice, and despite being a limited practice participant ahead of Week 1, there was hope he could play a limited number of snaps versus the Texans. However, the Colts ultimately ruled him out of the game entirely.

It will now be at least Week 3 before Leonard returns.

The 3-time All-Pro has recorded 15.0 sacks, 20 quarterback hits, 8 forced fumbles and 11 interceptions in his 4-year career. He’s never missed more than 3 games in a single season.

Without Leonard, Bobby Okereke, Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed will be Indianapolis’ primary linebackers again in Week 2.

Pierce Ruled Out for Week 2

In addition to Leonard, Pierce will not suit up in Jacksonville. Colts insider Joel A. Erickson reported that Pierce “didn’t get to a point” on the morning of September 16 “where he could clear” the concussion protocol.

Colts head coach Frank Reich said on September 14 that Pierce entered the protocol after developing “mild” concussion-like symptoms after Week 1. He suffered a helmet-to-helmet collision against Texans safety Jalen Pitre, who was called for a 15-yard personal foul penalty on the play.

The Colts drafted Pierce in the second round with their first selection of the 2022 NFL Draft. Not counting the play where he was hit in the head, Pierce received 2 targets on 47 snaps in his NFL debut. He dropped 1 of his targets in the end zone.

Pierce will have to wait at least 1 more week to make his first official NFL catch.

Without Pierce, the Colts will be counting on Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin and Mike Strachan being reliable targets other than Pittman (assuming he plays) for Matt Ryan in Week 2.

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