Colts Make Final Call on Shaquille Leonard, Jonathan Taylor for Week 7

Shaquille Leonard

Getty Because of various injuries, Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard has played one game this season.

The Indianapolis Colts won’t get everybody back for the pivotal Week 7 matchup against the Tennessee Titans, but they will receive a couple reinforcements.

Most notably, All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor will reportedly play versus the Titans. Taylor fully practiced on October 20 and 21. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the Colts removed Taylor from the injury report.

Fellow running back Nyheim Hines will also play. He cleared the concussion protocol on October 21.

But Indianapolis didn’t receive positive injury news on defense. The Colts announced on October 21 that linebacker Shaquille Leonard and defensive end Kwity Paye will not play in Week 7.

The Colts also ruled out wide receiver Keke Coutee and linebacker JoJo Domann for October 23.


Leonard Not Ready for Titans

Leonard cleared concussion protocol this week, but Colts head coach Frank Reich emphasized not playing the linebacker after two weeks of no football activity. Leonard underwent back surgery on June 7, and the Colts probably don’t want to push him after a lot of time away from the field.

The linebacker also broke his nose on the same play he suffered a concussion in Week 4.

The 2022 season has been a rocky start for the 3-time All-Pro linebacker. Leonard didn’t participant early in offseason workouts following an injury-plagued 2021 campaign. Leonard only missed 1 game last season, but he played the whole year with soreness in his left calf.

Leonard underwent back surgery to fix a nerve that was causing pain in that calf and his left ankle. The linebacker declared the procedure a success, but it took him the rest of the summer to get back on the field. Then, the Colts didn’t want him to play in a game until he practiced for a couple weeks.

He made his season debut against the Titans in Week 4, but left in the first half after a nasty hit to the head.

Leonard missed eight games in the first four years of his NFL career. He’s about to sit out his sixth game already in 2022.


Taylor, Hines Set to Return in Week 7

The good news, though, is the Colts will get back their 1-2 punch in the backfield just in time for the biggest game of the first seven weeks.

Without Taylor and Hines last week, the Colts asked quarterback Matt Ryan to throw 58 passes against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Indianapolis had only 16 rushing attempts and 45 yards on the ground.

The plan worked, as the Colts edged the Jaguars 34-27. But even Ryan admitted in front of the media on October 19 that an offensive game plan that lopsided in run-pass balance is not the recipe for long-term success.

Taylor only averaged 2.1 yards per carry in the first matchup against the Titans this season. But the Colts will likely still look to establish a ground attack with their best weapon back in the lineup.

Hines was not involved much at all in the first game versus Tennessee, as he recorded 3 touches for 3 yards. But without Taylor and Hines last week, running back Deon Jackson caught 10 of Ryan’s 58 passes for 79 yards.

Look for the Colts to establish not only Taylor on the ground but also Hines in the passing game. Hines has 18 receptions for 118 yards this season.

The Colts sit half a game behind the Titans in the AFC South. After this week, Indianapolis will have played five of its six division games for this season.

There are no must-wins in Week 7, but another win in the division, especially against the reigning AFC South champions, would go a long way for the Colts winning the AFC South this season.

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