INDIANAPOLIS – This much is clear: there’s a lack of clarity surrounding Darius Leonard and his ankle and back. And calf.
Two days after the Indianapolis Colts’ All-Pro linebacker underwent back surgery and one day after Leonard explained to Pat McAfee the surgery was required to address a nerve that was affecting his left ankle, the ball was in Frank Reich’s court.
Whether he cleared anything up is debatable. Reich was asked if the back surgery and ankle injury that had kept Leonard out of all of the Colts’ on-field work during the offseason were connected.
“That’s a good question,’’ he said Thursday on the final day of the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp. “My understanding from talking to the trainers is at one level, yes, everything is connected at some level or another. But my conversation . . . was maybe some connection, but they are different injuries.
“Is there some connection? Honestly, I didn’t go that far into it with them at the time of that discussion. So I’ll need to talk to them to get further clarity on what level of connection, if any, there is.’’
Leonard was quick to weigh in on his Twitter account after Reich’s comments hit social media.
“These folks must don’t be communicating,’’ he posted.
Make of that what you will.
Also, Reich added a wrinkle to Leonard’s medical situation when asked if the left ankle injury had subsided. He underwent surgery 12 months ago, but the ankle bothered him throughout last season.
“I think there’s ankle, calf . . . I think it’s the whole thing, right?’’ he said.
That was the first mention of Leonard dealing with a calf injury. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, the left ankle that limited Leonard to much less than 100% in 2021 – 70%, 80%? – also impacted the calf. The severity of the ankle injury at the time overshadowed everything else.
“Darius will continue to rehab that and strengthen it and my guess is now with the back issue cleared up, that the work that he does will actually take effect,’’ Reich said. “My general understanding is with what was going on was maybe that could’ve slowed down some of that other rehab.’’
When the Colts began ramping up on-field work three weeks ago, Reich admitted he was surprised when Leonard didn’t participate. He emphasized the team was being “cautious’’ with Leonard during the offseason, but indicated Leonard’s rehab with the ankle had hit a snag.
“Sometimes when you’re going through something and you hit a lull and you can’t get over that hump you want to get past, you have to stop and pause and say, ‘Why aren’t we getting over this hump?’’’ Reich said. “That’s a little bit of what it is with Darius.’’
That led to Leonard consulting with several specials and opting for back surgery on Tuesday.
Leonard contacted McAfee, the former Colts’ punting standout and host of The Pat McAfee Show, to provide a post-surgery update.
McAfee explained Leonard “had an ankle functioning issue, not an injury issue. They could not figure it out. This surgery should actually make him a better athlete, better player.’’
Reich said Leonard likely will miss a portion of training camp – players report in late July to Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield – but should be ready for the start of the regular season.
The Colts open at Houston Sept. 11.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.