New Darius Leonard Injury Recovery Timetable Revealed: Report

Darius Leonard

Getty Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker Darius Leonard underwent back surgery this offseason.

The Indianapolis Colts surprised the media and fans alike, announcing inside linebacker Darius Leonard underwent back surgery on June 7. While revealing that information explained why Leonard has not been on the field for offseason workouts this year, there were still some confusing details about how Leonard’s back and ankle injuries connected to each other — or if at all.

Colts senior writer Zak Keefer of The Athletic provided an update to Leonard’s injury and reported a new recovery timeline to help clarify the situation.

“The ankle injury lingered, in part, [because] of a related calf issue,” Keefer wrote on Twitter. “Calf wasn’t firing last year, and [doctors] believe that was due to a nerve in his back. Hence the back surgery.”

Keefer also added that the team anticipates Leonard will return before the start of the preseason.

This is a more optimistic recovery timetable for Leonard. After telling reporters the inside linebacker underwent back surgery, Colts head coach Frank Reich said on June 7 Leonard would definitely miss “some training camp time” but “if all goes according to plan” will start in the regular season opener.

While Reich’s prognosis was a vague timeline, Keefer’s new recovery timetable has Leonard returning at least a few weeks earlier.

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Leonard’s Injuries All Connected to a Back Issue?

Before June 7, there were no reports of the Colts inside linebacker dealing with a back problem. Indianapolis reportedly held Leonard out of voluntary offseason workouts for precautionary reasons due to his left ankle not feeling 100%.

But obviously, his back surgery changed the narrative. Now, Keefer reports Leonard hasn’t had a 100% healthy left calf lately either.

It’s not clear, though, if Leonard was diagnosed with a calf issue during the season last year or if doctors more recently found the calf problem connected to his unhealthy left ankle.

Reich didn’t mention Leonard’s calf being a factor while speaking to the media during the team’s minicamp week at the beginning of June.

Regardless, Leonard made his third first-team All-Pro team in 2021 playing through his injuries. He recorded 122 combined tackles, including 4 tackles for loss and a league-leading 8 forced fumbles last season.

Leonard also had 4 interceptions and 8 pass defenses.

Leonard Returning in Early August Again?

This was the second straight offseason Leonard underwent surgery. He had a procedure done on his ankle in July 2021 and returned early in August. That could be when he gets back on the field again this year.

The difference this year, though, is the Colts are installing a new defensive system under coordinator Gus Bradley. But still, Leonard, a three-time Pro Bowler, missing the very beginning of training camp isn’t a huge deal. If he returns near the start of camp, he’ll still have three preseason games to prepare for the team’s season opener against the Houston Texans.

And as Keefer tweeted, there’s a chance Leonard is back for the start of camp.

Leonard is entering his fifth NFL season. He has 538 combined tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 20 quarterback hits, 15.0 sacks and 11 interceptions in 58 career games.

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