According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Indianapolis Colts 4x NFL All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard will meet with a renowned Los Angeles neck surgeon on Monday to determine whether he can return to the field this season—after suffering a ‘setback’ during Wednesday’s team practice:
“Leonard is scheduled to meet with noted neck surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles on Monday to help determine whether he can play again this season, league sources told ESPN,” writes Schefter.
Since returning from offseason back surgery to correct a pinched nerve that was also negatively impacting his troublesome ankle, Leonard simply hasn’t looked like himself this season in 3 games.
Leonard has looked a step slow and hasn’t fully regained his fast, explosive form yet—which is likely because of a lack of responsiveness in his calf due to lingering nerve issues:
“Each week I’ve felt better, starting from my first week of practice, not being able to move and being stiff,” Leonard said earlier this week via Schefter. “In the past two games, I see myself moving around better. But we’re still not there. The nerve still isn’t firing in my calf.”
After being placed on injured reserve on Saturday, Leonard will miss at least the Colts’ next four games, with a return during Week 15 at the earliest following the team’s bye week.
With the Colts (3-5-1) campaign quickly snowballing, and a pair of linebackers, Bobby Okereke and Zaire Franklin, having played well in Leonard’s absence and/or more limited snaps, it makes sense that Indianapolis may consider shutting him down for the season.
It may very well depend on Leonard’s consultation with Dr. Robert Watkins to start the week, and one would hope that additional back surgery isn’t necessary, but I’m no medical expert.
The greater concern all together isn’t even that this is a season-ending but potential career-ending injury for Leonard, who’s the Colts best defensive player when fully healthy and would otherwise figure to have at least a handful of elite years still left.
However, it’s best to let Leonard’s cloudy medical situation simply play out, with an update likely coming soon after his reported visit on Monday. We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed.