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Shaquille Leonard ruled out for Week 1; what does this mean for the Colts?

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On Friday, following the Colts final practice of the week ahead of Sunday’s season opener in Houston, Head Coach Frank Reich ruled out Shaquille Leonard (back) from action against the Texans.

Leonard returned to the practice field this past week following offseason back surgery in early June, and was a limited participant during Thursday’s practice following a full day of work on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Leonard eluded to the uncertainty of his status for the season opener ahead of practice.

“I don’t want them to go out there and hurt the team,” Leonard said. “If I’m ready to rock and roll, I’ll be ready to rock. … Just want to make sure I make the right decision.”

This is a smart decision for all parties, considering Leonard didn’t participate in any football activities from January through this past week.

This past season when Leonard missed the Christmas night game at Arizona due to COVID-19, reserve linebacker EJ Speed stepped in and helped lead the Colts to a crucial 22-16 victory over the Cardinals. Speed tied for the team-high with nine tackles and showed a sideline-to-sideline burst that few backup linebackers in the league possess.

In addition to Speed, team captain Zaire Franklin will have an increased role on Sunday, especially when it comes to limiting the Texans promising rookie running back Dameon Pierce.