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Colts LB Shaq Leonard clears concussion protocol, will be available vs. Jags

Colts LB Shaq Leonard clears concussion protocol, will be available vs. Jaguars

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Maniac is back.

The Indianapolis Colts announced Thursday that All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard has cleared concussion protocol. Leonard sustained a concussion during joint practice with the Chicago Bears three weeks prior.

“Very excited,” Leonard said to media Thursday. “I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to get back on the field and compete with my guys and just go back out there and have some fun.”

Leonard was a full participant in practice Wednesday and Thursday as he prepared for the Sunday’s Colts season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. He is expected to play in that opener; however, exactly how many snaps is still unknown.

“That’s not my job to decide that,” Leonard said. “My job is to go out there and play as many plays as I possibly can. If the coaches say there’s a pitch count, then it is what it is but I have no idea.”

The three-time Pro Bowler says he’s close to feeling like he was at his prime back in 2019. There’s still some work he needs to do to get better.

His main goals going into the season are just trusting, reacting and trying not to think too much. From undergoing back surgery to battling concussions, it’s been a rough couple years for Leonard.

“It’s been hard but you just take it day by day and just realize how blessed you truly are and when you get an opportunity, just go out there and continue to put your best foot forward and give what you’ve got for this team,” Leonard said.

A lot of focus has been on the negative. But Leonard knows he gained a lot as well.

“I’ve just gained more heart,” Leonard said. “Just knowing that so many people are counting me out. Just having the will to keep going. I don’t know how many times I’ve been knocked down, just continue to get up and put my best foot forward. I’m studying the game, just studying to see exactly how I can put myself in better situations. I just think my heart is bigger, my drive is even bigger.”

Leonard will try to help the Colts break a decades-long Week 1 losing streak. The Horseshoe hasn’t won it’s season opener since 2013. Leonard and the Colts will have their chance in their own house Sunday.

“It’s big. I think it’s probably my second time opening up at home. Starting off with a divisional opponent, you want to start the season out pretty strong. What better way to start with Jacksonville Week 1 and come out here with the home crowd? Definitely looking forward to it. It’s definitely a big opportunity,” Leonard said.

The Colts kick off against the Jacksonville Jaguars at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Tune into WISH-TV at 11 a.m. Sunday for a full breakdown from the News 8 Sports Team during Countdown to Kickoff, and switch to WISH immediately following the game for the only live Colts postgame show in the city to hear from head coach Shane Steichen and quarterback Anthony Richardson, and go inside the locker room with WISH-TV’s crews.