As was the case for all NFL teams (excluding teams with International player exemptions), the Indianapolis Colts chose 53 players to keep on their active roster by 4 pm on August 30. One of those players was linebacker Shaquille Leonard.
A three-time first-team All-Pro, Leonard wasn’t in danger of being released. Still recovering from offseason back surgery, though, there were questions about whether Leonard would begin the season on the PUP list.
But the Colts announced they activated Leonard from the PUP list and included him on the active roster on August 30. Now eligible to return to practice, the linebacker could play against the Houston Texans in Week 1 on September 11.
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Leonard Off the PUP List
Since the day of his surgery, the Colts have been somewhat vague about the timetable for Leonard’s return. Colts head coach Frank Reich initially said on June 8 that Leonard would definitely miss “some training camp time” but also added that he wasn’t too concerned about how much offseason training Leonard would miss as long as he was ready for the regular season.
Over the last several weeks, though, doubts began to surface as to whether Leonard would be ready for Week 1. He has been on the PUP list since the beginning of training camp. Reich has also declined multiple times to provide any new timetable or update on when Leonard would return.
The linebacker coming off the PUP list erases some of those doubts. If the Colts doubted whether he would be ready to play in September, the team likely would have preferred to keep an extra player from the list of cuts it made on August 30.
NFL players that begin the regular season on the PUP list miss the first four games. Teams without their best players is never ideal, but that especially would have been true for the Colts without Leonard to begin the season.
Leonard coming off the PUP list gives him the opportunity to practice for about a week and a half before the regular season begins.
Still a Long Way to Go For Leonard
While Leonard avoiding the PUP list is great, the linebacker isn’t out of the woods yet.
Players on the PUP list can’t participant in practice. Leonard coming off the list means he’s ready to workout with his teammates on the field. Beyond that, there are no other guarantees.
“From our standpoint, we really want to get him back out there when he’s cleared. Even if he’s not ready to play, get him out there,” Reich told he media on August 23. “And you can’t get out there if you are on PUP. You can’t participate in anything. We want to get Darius participating.”
In conclusion, Leonard has completed the first step and is ready to participate. Being ready for game action is another step in the recovery process.