Shaquille Leonard: I’ll play when I’m ready and comfortable

Shaquille Leonard: I’ll play when I’m ready and comfortable

Linebacker Shaquille Leonard may or may not be ready to play when the Colts line up against the Texans in Week One.

But Leonard is practicing now after undergoing offseason back surgery. And whenever he plays, he’s going to be healthy for the first time in a long time.

However, Leonard did not put a timetable on when he might play.

“When I feel like I’m ready,” Leonard said, via Nate Atkins of the Indianapolis Star. “When I’m comfortable.”

Leonard mentioned that he’s been playing through pain since early on in the 2018 season.

“If you think about 2018, Week Four against Houston, I rolled an ankle and sat out Week Five against the Patriots and came back against the Jets, and you notice I’ve had it taped up ever since,” Leonard said, via Stephen Holder of ESPN. “So, it’s been a minute since I’ve felt the way I feel now.

“It’s a good feeling but it’s still a process. I’m not saying I’m ready to go right now. I’m still trying to figure stuff out. But I am feeling better. So that’s the main thing.”

Despite playing through pain, Leonard registered his third consecutive Pro Bowl season and third All-Pro season in 2021. In 16 games, he recorded 122 total tackles, four interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and led the league with eight forced fumbles.

Whenever the time comes that he’s ready, Leonard feels like he’ll be at his most productive.

“If Shaquille can be healthy for a full season and be able to plant and cut his way as I was once before, I just think I’ll be flying around a whole lot better and making a few more plays,” Leonard said, via Atkins. “I’ll be more crisp out of my breaks and will be in [passing] windows more.”