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Colts’ Shaq Leonard still frustrated with lack of playing time

Leonard still frustrated with lack of playing time

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — “It sucks. It sucks.”

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard still isn’t happy with the amount of playing time he’s getting each week.

The three-time All-Pro continues to split snaps with fellow linebacker EJ Speed as the two share first and second down plays, with Speed playing on every third down.

“I’m a competitor. I want to play. I want to go out there and compete,” Leonard said Thursday. “I’ve put my body through so much, worked extremely hard to get to this point, and it’s frustrating when you’re standing on the sideline when you know you’re capable of going out there and competing at a high level.”

Leonard has been vocal about his frustrations for three straight weeks, despite logging double-digit tackles against the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers.

Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said Tuesday that he likes when players are adamant about getting more playing time.

“I told Shaq don’t bend. Don’t bend on wanting to be on the field every play,” Bradley said. “That’s what you need to do, and it’s not going to be easy on us as a coaching staff, but that’s OK. That’s what we’re paid to do, to handle that and facilitate what we think is best for the team, and best for both of them.”

That hasn’t eased the mind of Leonard, though.

“Everybody says to keep that fighting edge until you step on toes. We had conversations back then, it was more so ‘Get to November, and we’ll see,’ and November, we saw. It’s just tough, it’s frustrating when you have those conversations and you try and figure out what else to do. It’s a lot, man. I don’t know what to do. I put my best foot forward everyday. “

Leonard thought he would get more playing time in Charlotte when Zaire Franklin missed action with a knee injury. Instead, the Colts chose Segun Olubi to replace Franklin at the MIKE position — meaning Leonard would still split snaps with Speed.

Leonard said he’s continued to talk with the Colts coaches on what he needs to do better to get on the field with more regularity, but didn’t say if he’s gotten a clear answer on what to change or fix.

“Just tell me something. Just help me sleep,” Leonard said. “Help me sleep better at night knowing, because I just feel like I give everything on the field in practice, and I give everything I got when I’m playing on Sundays, no matter if it’s one or 70 plays. I don’t know. It sucks, honestly. It really sucks.”

The Colts traveled to Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday to prepare for their next game against the New England Patriots. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m.