INDIANAPOLIS — Colts All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard is one step closer to returning to the field after offseason back surgery.
The Colts on Tuesday activated Leonard from the physically unable to perform list as they submitted their moves to reach their initial 53-man roster, enabling Leonard to avoid remaining on the list into the regular season. Had Leonard not been activated on Tuesday, he would have been required to stay on the PUP list through at least Week 4 of the regular season.
Tuesday’s move was foreshadowed last week by Colts coach Frank Reich, who said the team preferred to have Leonard on its active roster at the season’s outset, if possible, because it would allow him to practice.
“From our standpoint, we really want to get him back out there when he’s [medically] cleared,” Reich said. “Even if he’s not ready to play, get him out there [practicing]. And you can’t get out there if you’re on PUP. You can’t participate in anything. So, we want to get him participating. At some point, even if he’s not ready to play, we have to get him off PUP.” Leonard was seen going through a workout with teammates prior to Saturday night’s preseason finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, another indicator that he is closer to returning .
Leonard’s status has been up in the air since June, when he underwent back surgery to address a nerve issue that was causing lower-body pain. The problem has been resolved, the Colts say, but Leonard has been rebuilding strength post-surgery.
The Colts open their season on Sept. 11 at the Houston Texans.