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Colts’ LB Shaq Leonard on Returning to Practice: ‘First Time in Awhile I’ve Felt This Good’

Indianapolis Colts Training Camp Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

It’s been a long few months for Indianapolis Colts All-Pro linebacker, Shaq Leonard. As the Colts returned to Grand Park and held their first day of training camp on Wednesday, Leonard was out there and participating throughout different sessions for the first time in over eight months.

Leonard, who’s had four different procedures in just over two years to correct his injuries, spoke candidly about what he’s gone through to get back on the practice field.

“First time in awhile I’ve felt this good,” Leonard said. “I just want to continue to stack the days and get better each day.”

Leonard did say how surprised he was about the amount of time he spent practicing Wednesday, which included all of the team’s positional drills, 11-on-11 sessions and 7-on-7 sessions.

“Yeah, that most definitely surprised me,” Leonard said. “I was nervous. I felt like this was a game day for me. First time in awhile: no sleep last night, jitterbugs all morning.”

The passion and competitive fire remains there for Leonard, who hadn’t seen any type of on-field action since last November. He was eager to get back out there and show fans and those in attendance there’s been no love lost between he and the game of football.

One of the many things that made Wednesday’s practice so emotional for Leonard was when he heard the fans in the crowd cheer as he took the practice field.

“It’s been a long journey, man,” Leonard said. “You see a lot of bad things. People thought I was sitting out just to sit out and not understanding I was fighting my tail off to get back and be the best version of myself for this team. To come out here and hear the crowd’s excitement for me getting back on the field, that was just reassurance that these fans are still with me, and I’m doing something right. Hopefully, I can continue to make them proud.”

While the fans may be eagerly awaiting for ‘The Maniac’ to finally be rid of all the injuries, there’s no one who wants to return to his old, All-Pro self more than Leonard.

“I care so much,” Leonard said. “I care so much about football, and I love what I do. Football is the only thing in my life that makes the world stop. All of the bad things that’s going on in my life, all of the stress that’s going on, when I step between these white lines, that’s the only time all of this comes to a pause. Once that was taken away from me, my safe haven spot was gone. But now that I’m back, it’s a blessing.”