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Shaquille Leonard feeling the best he has in four years

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard, returned to practice for the first time Wednesday after three and a half months of being sidelined post-back surgery. Thursday, the three-time Pro Bowler spoke to the media for the first time since being taken off the physically unable to perform list. There’s still no time table on when he could return to game action, but progress is being made.

“Each day is better and better. I’m happy with the process, happy with the progress and happy with how it’s feeling right now,” Leonard said.

Leonard has been dealing with pain all on his left side since he initially rolled his ankle week four against the Houston Texans of the 2018 season. Since then, he said he’s had no reprieve — until now.

“It’s been a minute since I’ve felt the way I’m feeling now,” Leonard said. “It’s a good feeling, but it’s still a process. I’m not saying I’m all 100 percent ready to go right now. I’m still trying to figure all that stuff out, but I am feeling better. So, that’s the main thing.”

“You can feel his energy,” head coach Frank Reich said about Leonard’s return to practice. “This guy has been the ultimate pro. I’ve really been, not surprised but just thankful for his approach from Day One. He’s never taken his foot off the gas, so that when we got to this point it gives us the best chance possible to get him back in as soon as we can.”

Leonard has counted the days until he could get back out on the field. The waiting hasn’t been easy.

“It was just frustrating. I was eager to get back out there and play,” Leonard said. “Just seeing your guys go out there and perform every day and just wanted to be a part of it. Football is my happy place, football is my safe haven, football is something that I love to do. I love to compete. Just being down for three and a half months, it sucks, but it made me look at football in a different point of view. I was able to read offensive formations, talk to the linebackers, tell them what I see, pick up tendencies. See a lot of things that I wouldn’t have been able to see if I was practicing. It was kind of different seeing it from a different angle.”

The Colts open the season on the road in Houston September 11, hoping to break an 8-year streak of losing week one. Whether Leonard will be back in time for the opener is still to be determined.