INDIANAPOLIS – Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard has made ‘progressive progress’ in his return from back surgery but says he hasn’t been able to ‘play winning football and feel confident’ said on Friday.
Leonard was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs despite practicing with the Colts over the past three weeks, raising questions about the timeline for his three First-Team All-Pro selections.
Reich has spoken extensively about Leonard’s condition for the first time in weeks, saying the team is conducting its own assessment of the linebacker’s ability to return to action and is following player guidance closely.
“It’s a joint decision,” said Reich. “But obviously the player is the one who has to play. And only he really knows what it feels like to move. We’re doing it. It’s not the same. It’s not the same. From our perspective, the tape should look the same as it did when we were relatively healthy.
“That’s one aspect of it. And the aspect from Shaq is that he needs to feel that. So that’s where the support is.”
Leonard underwent back surgery in June to address lower body pain caused by nerve problems. required a long road.
“This injury is a bear,” said Reich. “He’s fighting and hurting every second to get back on the field. I promise you that. He’s doing everything he can to get back out there. It’s killing him.” considered placing Leonard on the physically inoperable or injured list at earlier points, but those options would have prevented him from practicing with the team.
“I knew that if I didn’t take other steps, everyone would think. [he’s playing] Week one, week two,” Reich said. It’s a terrible injury, he’s dealing with it the right way, he’s got the right attitude and we’re going to continue on this course.”
Elsewhere, the Colts got positive injury news with the expected return of receivers Michael Pittman Jr. (quad) and Alec Pierce (concussion). According to Reich, Pitman is “ready to go.” Pierce will clear concussion protocol and play on Thursday, Reich said.
Defensive side Yannick Ngakue (back) is listed as a doubtful player.