Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard missed the majority of the 2022 season dealing with a nerve injury that required two surgeries within. six-month span.
While Leonard was hoping the first surgery in June would correct the issue, it proved to be the start of a brutal season that kept The Maniac on the sidelines.
Leonard didn’t have any sensation in his leg following the first surgery in June.
“After the first surgery in June, I didn’t have any sensation down my leg for the whole time I was trying to play. I couldn’t do a calf raise and I had no power on my left side,” Leonard told reporters this week.
But that didn’t keep Leonard from trying his best to get on the field as quickly as possible. However, the issue arose when he realized he was making matters worse by not allowing the nerves to heal properly.
“I was making it worse. When dealing with nerves, from what I’ve learned, is that you have to take the proper time, proper rest,” Leonard said. “Me being a warrior, wanting to compete, me wanting to be by my brothers’ side, I wanted to be on the field. I wanted to go out there and compete. But I didn’t know I was making it worse by continuing to do the things that I was doing.”
When Jeff Saturday took over as the interim head coach following the firing of Frank Reich, he suggested Leonard shut it down until they had a better idea of what was happening.
Because of that advice, Leonard underwent further testing and a second surgery. For now, that surgery has been deemed a success.
“Post-surgery for the second time, I started feeling the tingles in my calf, the tingles down my hamstring, and in my glute – stuff like that. As of right now, everything is fine,” Leonard said. “It’s just not strong enough yet so my job is to continue to take it slow, continue to make sure I’m working the right muscles, and get ready for next season.”
Leonard said he felt something was off when the team was practicing ahead of the Week 10 game against the Las Vegas Raiders. When Leonard approached Saturday about the issue, the interim head coach suggested he get a better look.
It’s something Leonard is thankful for.
“If it wasn’t for Jeff (Saturday), I probably still wouldn’t know. For a long time I didn’t have any answers. I never had dealt with (a) nerve. I never had dealt with not being able to do a calf raise,” Leonard said. ” I thank him because without him I would have continued to put my body on the line when I shouldn’t. Sometimes you have to protect the player from himself and I commend Jeff for that. I’m thankful that Jeff came here for that reason.”
Though the Colts got solid production from their linebacker room this season, the absence of Leonard was notable. His fire and passion are the reasons he’s considered the heart of the defense, and they are reasons why he earned the contract that he did—making him the highest-paid linebacker in the NFL at the time.
We’ll see what the offseason has in store for Leonard, but it seems like he’s on a better path after the second surgery.