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Frank Reich: Even if Shaquille Leonard’s not ready to play, we have to get him off PUP to practice

Colts owner Jim Irsay has high hopes for his team ahead of the 2022 NFL season, so Mike Florio and Chris Simms discuss just how far QB Matt Ryan can take them in his first year with Indy.

To this point in the preseason, Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard has been on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing back surgery in June.

Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich has expressed optimism that Leonard will be ready to play Week One. But Leonard has not come off the PUP list yet to practice.

So on Tuesday, Reich was asked if there’s a possibility Leonard may start the regular season on the PUP list. If that were to happen, Leonard would not be eligible to play in the Colts’ first four games of the season.

Reich said he and G.M. Chris Ballard have not yet had that exact conversation.

“Based on the fact that he’s not out here yet [practicing], I guess you would have to say that’s a possibility,” Reich said, via Kevin Bowen of 107.5 The Fan. “But I’m not assuming that that’s the case. From our standpoint, we really want to get him back out here, when he’s clear. But even if he’s not ready to play, get him out there [practicing]. And you can’t get out there and if you’re on PUP. You can’t participate in anything.

“So we want to get Shaquille participating, so at some point, even if he’s not ready to play, we have to get him off PUP and get him taking reps, even if it takes however many weeks it’s going to take to get him ready.”

Reich’s sentiment makes it seem less likely that Leonard will start the season on the PUP list. But because he’s still not practicing, there’s probably still some concern about when Leonard will be available.

Leonard led the league with eight forced fumbles last year, also recording four interceptions, eight passes defensed, three fumble recoveries, and 122 total tackles. He was named a first-team All-Pro for the third time.