Colts take a wait-and-see approach before determining Shaquille Leonard’s Week 1 status

Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard may . . . or may not play in the season opener against the Texans. The team wants to see how the All-Pro responds to a full week of practice before determining his game-day status.

Leonard only returned to practice last week after offseason back surgery.

“That’s the approach we’re taking,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said, via Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star. “Let’s get out there and practice and keep making progress. Don’t force anything, but let’s keep making progress.”

Leonard needed surgery to relieve pressure two discs in his spine were putting on his nerves. He missed all of training camp.

So, if Leonard can play, the Colts might have him on pitch count. He has played 98 percent of the defensive snaps in three of his four seasons, including last season, and 93 percent in the other season.

“No doctor has said that to me, but it feels like that might be the right thing to do,” Reich said of reduced snaps for Leonard. “My brain says, yeah, he’ll probably have a pitch count playing in his first game, but I’m not going to make it an absolute, because what you find over the years is sometimes different players respond differently.”

Colts General Manager Chris Ballard said last week Leonard has arrived at the team facility at 5:45 a.m. every day to get in extra work.

Leonard is working his way back as fast as he can, but the Colts are going to wait until the end of the week, or maybe even game day, before deciding.

“The injury’s kind of a unique injury,” Reich said. “If he gets to a point where he’s comfortable and they say, 20 plays or 70 plays, it’s all the same from a conditioning standpoint. If he’s ready to go, then you let him play. It’s Shaq. He’s a great player. But we want to be smart.”