Indianapolis Colts starting linebacker Zaire Franklin has been downgraded to ‘doubtful’ with a knee injury, meaning he’s a longshot to play on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers:
Franklin currently leads the league with 102 total defensive tackles, so his absence would obviously be a big loss for a Colts defense that is already without starting run-stuffing nose tackle Grover Stewart and standout outside rookie cornerback JuJu Brents.
It would also be the first missed game in Franklin’s 6-year career.
In Franklin’s absence, both Shaquille Leonard and E.J. Speed are expected to assume larger roles defensively, going from platoon to likely full-time linebackers. Backup linebacker Segun Olubi could presumably also see some limited/situational rotational snaps.
It’s possible that this could be the opportunity for more playing time that Leonard has recently desired, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can fully capitalize and make more ‘splash plays’ out there on Sunday—leading potentially to a bigger role going forward.