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Leonard optimistic after season-ending surgery

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Shaq is back. Maybe.

“I’m feeling better. I feel a whole lot better than I did at any point last year,” said Leonard.

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard admits he’s still not at 100 percent. He hasn’t done much running, or been fully cleared by trainers after last November’s back surgery, but there’s optimism.

“He seems to be in a really good place,” said Gus Bradley, defensive coordinator for the Colts. “I know he’s been talking about this offseason, how his workouts have been going, and just the confidence he’s getting. It’s a work in progress, but I know he’s in a good mindset.”

“I’m feeling way more confident,” Leonard said. “Way more power, way more explosive, and just feeling better even when I walk now, so I’m very optimistic of what the future holds.”

Leonard says last year was the hardest of his life, both physically and mentally. He still wonders every day, “Will I ever be the Maniac again?” Despite all the chaos of last season, he only regrets one thing.

”When I see myself on tape in practice, I look slow. In the game, I’m looking slow. A lot of people thought I was selfish for shutting it down and having the surgery, but I think the only thing selfishly that I did last year was actually go out there and try to play. I felt like I hurt the team last year whenever I was on the field,” Leonard said. “Too many times after the game, I’m in the locker room just boo-hooing. I feel like I let the team down not being out there to help them win.”

He’s still far from where he wants to be, but that’s just intensifying his motivation to get there.

“Man, I’ve been doubted my whole life. I’ve been proving you guys wrong for a long time. That’s just been my mentality. Now it’s the same thing because I see things where they say I won’t be back to myself, I sat out for nothing. Now it’s back to day one of proving where I am,” Leonard said.

Proof that will only come with time.