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Darius Leonard recovering from back surgery, will miss some training camp

Leonard tweeted after the surgery that it went well and he was ready to get back.
Credit: AP/Charlie Neibergall
Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) runs off the field following a 28-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard is recovering after surgery on his back. The issue progressed during the offseason and led to Leonard having a procedure to correct it.

Leonard tweeted after the surgery that it went well and he was ready to get back.

Colts head coach Frank Reich said Leonard will miss some training camp as he recovers from the surgery. The team is hoping he will be ready for the regular season.

“To the best of my understanding it was early in the offseason, he was like ‘Hey, something's not feeling right' and we were like ‘Hey, let’s keep an eye on it, don't overreact,'" Reich said. “It just kind of got worse rather than better.”

Leonard had offseason ankle surgery in 2021 and played all of last season in pain. He had another ankle surgery earlier this year, which prevented him from participating in any of this spring's workouts. Reich said the two sides ruled out a third ankle surgery. In his tweet, Leonard said his ankle feels amazing.

The South Carolina State alum has missed seven games in his first four NFL seasons and still has amassed 538 tackles, including a league-high 163 in 2018 when he was the league's defensive rookie of the year.

He's not just a tackling machine, though.

Leonard also has 17 forced fumbles, 15 sacks, 11 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries in his career. Indy rewarded Leonard with a five-year, $98.5 million contract extension last summer, which made him the highest-paid linebacker at the time.

“Really I don't know the exact timetable yet,” Reich said. “In my mind, just as long as he's ready to play the regular season. Does he need to play preseason? Sure, it would be nice if he played, but if it doesn't happen, I'm not worried about it.”

Reich said running back Jonathan Taylor, last season's NFL rushing champion, also sat out Tuesday for precautionary reasons.

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