Shaquille Leonard feels 'like a linebacker' again, hopes his number's called this week

INDIANAPOLIS — Shaquille Leonard waited a long time to get back on the football field he loves.

Then he was forced to wait some more. Two quarters into his return, Leonard was dealt another blow, a concussion and a nose broken so bad that it required surgery, sending the All-Pro linebacker to the bench again.

Leonard is hoping he doesn’t have to wait any more.

“I don’t think I have too much patience left,” Leonard said. “Hopefully, I’m ready to rock and roll.”

Insider: Sam Ehlinger will look to calm nerves, play smart and free vs. Commanders

Leonard practiced last week, but the Colts coaching staff decided to hold him out of last week’s loss to Tennessee to give him more time to get ready.

“We just kind of felt like he sustained a pretty serious injury on top of that concussion, on top of that, a pretty significant procedure, and for the last two weeks, he’s been completely inactive, not any physical activity, just kind of healing up,” Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich said at the time. “We just think it’s the right thing.”

Every fiber of Leonard’s being wanted to be on the field against the Titans.

But the star linebacker also said he understands why the coaches held him out. A player who’s waited as long as he has, who wants to get out there badly, has a hard time being objective about his readiness.

“I’m going to do everything I can be out there,” Leonard said. “Sometimes, it might be that my body’s hurting, but I still want to go, but the coaches see that, and they’ve got to protect me from me. I just stand behind their decision.”

Waiting this long has been difficult.

Leonard’s initial injury — two discs in his spine were putting pressure on the nerves that led to his left leg — isn’t like a lot of NFL injuries, the kind that players talk about attacking rehabilitation and trying to push the timetable for return.

A nervous system can’t be pushed.

“With nerves, you’ve just got to be patient and wait for them to wake back up,” Leonard said. “That’s been the most frustrating thing, is waiting for the nerve to fire once again, to have that same power, have that same feel.”

Leonard feels he’s close.

He feels like himself on the practice field.

“This week right here, I feel more explosive,” Leonard said. “I feel like a linebacker. I feel like I’m quick twitch, feeling more powerful in the left leg, being more confident in the left side. Hopefully this week my number is called.”

The Colts coaching staff will make that decision soon.

Leonard hopes he’s on the field against Washington.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Shaquille Leonard injury: Colts LB eager to return vs. Commanders