Shaquille Leonard frustrated with role

Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard wants more.

After missing 14 games in 2022 following back surgery, Leonard returned this season expecting to be the same player he was from 2018-21 when he earned four consecutive Pro Bowls and twice received All-Pro nods. Leonard, though, hasn't been.

He has played 72 percent of the defensive plays, but after playing almost every play in his first four seasons, it's not enough playing time to Leonard's liking.

"I just feel like each week I prove who I am. The way I play the game is getting better and better each week," Leonard said Thursday, via Dave Griffiths of CBS 4 Indy. "But they say I don't make enough splash plays, so I guess I'll still be watching for a bit."

In the three games last season and seven this season, Leonard has no sacks, no forced fumbles and no interceptions with 46 tackles and two tackles for loss.

He has had a groin injury the past month but said he is ready for a full workload. Instead, he is sharing time with E.J. Speed.

"More me, personally, I think so. For myself, I don't think that they think that," Leonard said. "[My snap counts will likely] be similar, maybe even worse. Just going to go out and play as many plays as I can play. Just go from there."

Leonard knows what his role is, with Shane Steichen, Gus Bradley and the rest of the staff having communicated it clearly. Leonard just doesn't like it.

"I kind of know a little bit. They'll tell me if I'm going to split reps with E.J. on first and second [down]," Leonard said. "I know I'm not in on third down. Kind of know exactly what it is. Like it or not, it is what it is."