While the Indianapolis Colts make daily progress in training camp on offense with new quarterback Matt Ryan and three rookies selected on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft, the team is patiently waiting for linebacker Shaquille Leonard to return on defense.
They are going to be waiting a little longer.
Colts head coach Frank Reich provided a positive update on Leonard’s progress, telling reporters “he is doing great,” during a press conference on August 3. But Reich also couldn’t say a set date on when Leonard will return.
“He has really been into it out on the field, staying locked into what we are doing schematically,” Reich said. “Really staying in tune with the team and the guys and everything, and I know he is continuing good rehab – having progress but we are still not in that mode.
“I don’t think it is imminent, but I think he is making progress.”
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Murky Initial Recovery Timeline for Leonard
When Leonard underwent his surgery on June 7, Reich didn’t sound very confident that the linebacker would be ready for training camp, as he told reporters Leonard would definitely miss “some training camp time.”
About a week later, staff writer Zak Keefer of The Athletic had a more positive prognosis, reporting Leonard could return near the start of training camp.
But as the Colts begin their second full week of training camp, it doesn’t appear that Leonard is following Keefer’s more positive recovery timeline.
With no return imminent, it will soon be worth wondering if Leonard will be back before Indianapolis’ first preseason game. The Colts will visit the Buffalo Bills for their first game of the 2022-23 campaign on August 13.
It’s not a big deal if Leonard doesn’t play in all three preseason games, but the Colts probably want the linebacker to get some game snaps in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s system before the regular season.
Leonard ‘Making Progress’ for Regular Season
Leonard may not have returned to practice yet and likely won’t have an ideal snap count this preseason, but fans can still be pleased he’s making progress. The Colts won’t play a game that counts for another five and a half weeks.
There have been no indications since Leonard underwent his surgery about two months ago that he will miss any games during the regular season.
Leonard made first-team All Pro for the third time last year, posting 122 combined tackles and a league-leading 8 forced fumbles. He starred in 2021 after having offseason surgery last July, and he was still less than 100% percent, which led to more surgery this summer.
Since 2018, Leonard is the only player with more than 10 sacks and 10 interceptions. It’s scary to think what he could do if completely healthy in 2022.