According to multiple local sources, Indianapolis Colts 4x NFL All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard returned to team practice for the first time since undergoing offseason back surgery—as he was just activated off of preseason PUP on Tuesday.
He practiced in a somewhat limited capacity with his positional group:
Leonard ran through some but not all individual drills with the linebackers group. #Colts https://t.co/Ys7dcUdmsH pic.twitter.com/VRLjjx2Xx3— Brett Bensley (@brettbensley) August 31, 2022
While there’s no guarantee that Leonard is ready for the regular season opener on the road against the Houston Texans (September 11th), it does put him in a good position to make his debut some time within the first four weeks of the 2022 campaign—if there are no setbacks:
Chris Ballard on Shaquille Leonard's return:— James Boyd (@RomeovilleKid) August 31, 2022
"You can't miss all that time and just go to being game ready. ... I can't give you a timeline. Maybe Week 1, maybe Week 6. We'll work and we'll deal with it however we gotta deal with it."
Not only will Leonard have to ramp up his physical activity and conditioning here in a hurry, but he’ll also have to learn a new position—as he transitions from ‘Will’ to ‘Mike’ in new Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s evolved ‘Cover 3’ scheme.
Either way, when fully healthy, Leonard is a difference maker for the Colts defense, as a dynamic linebacker who can tackle, cover, blitz, and create numerous takeaways. He’s one of the Colts’ best players and an elite defensive player overall in the NFL.