American Football

Colts plan to build Shaquille Leonard’s snap counts for full workload in November


Los Angeles Rams v Indianapolis Colts
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Despite limited snap counts, the Colts insist that they’re managing Shaq Leonard’s workload with eyes toward November.

According to defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, the Indianapolis Colts are still managing starting linebacker Shaquille Leonard’s snap counts in the hopes of fully ramping him up in November (via the IndyStar’s Nate Atkins):

Leonard played just 37 of the 82 total defensive snaps (45.1%) this past Sunday, whereas fellow linebackers Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed played 75 and 45 total snaps respectively (even Segun Olubi played 7 snaps in relief of Leonard).

It’s not a very comfortable conversation right now regarding Leonard.

When fully healthy, Leonard is unquestionably one of the best linebackers in all of football and arguably Colts franchise history, as a former 4x NFL All-Pro in his first four seasons.

However, coming off back-to-back surgeries in as many years, it’s a fair question of whether ‘The Maniac’ will ever regain that dynamic form due to potentially lingering nerve issues.

Despite a $19.8M cap hit this season, Leonard has so far been limited to a situational two-down linebacker and typically replaced on obvious passing downs/nickel packages. He’s simply not moving quite as well out there as he used to and has been subbed out in coverage accordingly.

Right now, Leonard is just PFF’s 57th ranked linebacker with a +53.0 overall grade—including a +52.3 coverage grade. He never graded out lower than 70.0 overall in his first four seasons in the league.

No one should write Leonard off yet, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt and some grace, given his ongoing recovery—but at a certain point, that cap number looms large, as does his diminished production/play, and the Colts may have a difficult decision to make.

Raising the question of whether Shaq will actually ever be fully back?

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