Colts LB Leonard to miss opener against Texans

INDIANAPOLIS — Colts All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard has been ruled out for Sunday’s season opener against the Houston Texans, coach Frank Reich said Friday.

Leonard has been recovering from offseason back surgery, a procedure aimed at resolving pain in his lower extremities because of an impinged nerve. Although Leonard returned to practice last week on a limited basis, he still isn’t in game shape.

He was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, but Reich said that was because the Colts weren’t in full pads. Leonard was limited again Thursday.

“No setback,” Reich said. “The first day, we weren’t in pads, so there was nothing to limit him from. And then [Thursday], he did a lot. He got his share. But with the pads on and with him getting back into things, I just felt it was right to limit him.”

The Colts will use a rotation of Zaire Franklin and E.J. Speed in Leonard’s place, and the depth at linebacker has given the team some peace of mind.

“He’s a great player, he’s a great leader for us,” Reich said. “When you’re a great player like Shaq is — there’s no one better at his position — it sounds crazy to say this, [but] our guys have done a good job.”

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