INDIANAPOLIS – We’re still in a wait-and-see mode with Shaquille Leonard, but the Indianapolis Colts’ All-Pro linebacker made one thing perfectly clear.
When he’s cleared to play, there will be no restraints.
A possible pitch count? Leonard’s not a fan.
“If I’m up, I’m up,’’ he said Thursday afternoon. “I do whatever they want me to do, but if I’m playing, I want every rep.
“That’s just the mentality I’m supposed to have. I’m not a guy who likes to stand on the sideline and watch other guys play.
“If I’m out there, I’m out there.’’
It’s possible – probably even likely – the Colts already have decided whether Leonard plays in Sunday’s season opener at Houston.
But they aren’t tipping their hand.
Frank Reich estimated Leonard is at 80%, which generally is sufficient for someone of Leonard’s ilk to “figure it out and figure out how to play winning football.
“We just have to talk through and see what it looks like.’’
But he also mentioned a player typically needs more than three consecutive full practices to be adequately prepared for a game. And remember, Leonard missed all of the Colts offseason work and training camp and is coming off back surgery in June.
“I mean, I really don’t want to back myself into a corner because it’s Shaq,’’ Reich. “I think we’re just going to take it day-by-day.’’
Leonard practiced for the first time last week and will have four sessions this week: a walk-through Monday followed up full team work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. He was a full participant Wednesday but limited Thursday.
Every day he arrives at the team complex, he meets with trainers and the medical staff to assess his progress.
“It’s everybody, all day, every day,’’ Leonard said. “As soon as I come in, just making sure how I’m feeling from practice the day before. How’s the load? Is anything bothering you?
“Just trying to make sure we’re taking steps forward and not steps back. Just trying to keep stackin’ them days.’’
At some point, the team will make it official.
Leonard is up, or he’s not.
“I think we’ll make a decision whenever that is right,’’ he said. “I don’t know what that will be. Just leave it up to the coaches and the medical.
“When they give me that OK, ready to rock and roll.’’
Leonard seemed to concede there remains a bit of hesitancy because of the nature of his most recent surgery.
“Coming off of back surgery, you’re having thoughts,’’ he said. “Is something going to go (wrong), stuff like that.’’
The team’s medical staff has offered constant reassurance.
“Just talking to the doctors, talking to the medical staff assured me that I’m going to be well prepared to go through anything that I was supposed to do in a game. Making sure in practice, pre-practice, hitting bags, tackling people, just making sure I’m comfortable so when the time comes I can rock and roll without any doubt in my mind that I can.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.