Colts Thursday Notebook: Darius Leonard Still Needs To Pass Through Concussion Protocol

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Colts Thursday Notebook: Darius Leonard Still Needs To Pass Through Concussion Protocol

Blog > Kevin's Corner > Colts Coverage > Colts Thursday Notebook: Darius Leonard Still Needs To Pass Through Concussion Protocol

Colts Thursday Notebook: Darius Leonard Still Needs To Pass Through Concussion Protocol

On Thursday, the Colts had their first ‘real’ practice of Week Three. What was learned at the Colts complex on Thursday afternoon?

Zach Bolinger | Getty Images


INDIANAPOLIS – It’s looking like the Colts could very well be without their All-Pro linebacker on Sunday afternoon against the Falcons.

 

Thursday brought the Colts’ first ‘real practice’ of the week, as they prepare to take on the Falcons at Lucas Oil Stadium in Week Three.

 

Here is the news of the day on Thursday from the Colts:

 

  • The bulk of this notebook will be spent on the health of LB-Darius Leonard (concussion). The All-Pro linebacker did not practice for a second straight day on Thursday. That’s not a good sign for Leonard playing in Week Three. In 2018, the Colts had 6 guys in concussion protocol on the Monday following a game. Only two of them played that next Sunday, and both of those guys were practicing (limited) on the Wednesday practice. So, yeah, not good.
     
  • Leonard remains in the concussion protocol. From the NFL, here are the five steps for progressing through the concussion protocol: 1. Rest and Recovery: The player is prescribed rest until his signs and symptoms and neurological examination, including cognitive and balance test, return to baseline status. 2. Light Aerobic Exercise: Under direct oversight of the team’s medical staff, the player should begin graduated cardiovascular exercise and may also engage in dynamic stretching and balance training. 3: Continued Aerobic Exercise & Introduction Of Strength Training: The player continues with supervised cardiovascular exercises that are increased and may mimic sport-specific activities, and supervised strength training is introduced. 4. Football Specific Activities: The player continues cardiovascular, strength and balance training and participates in non-contact football activities (e.g. throwing, catching, running and other position-specific activities). 5. Full Football Activity/Clearance: Upon clearance by the Team Physician for full football activity involving contact, the player must be examined by the Independent Neurologist consultant (INC) assigned to his Club. If the INC concurs with the team physician that the player’s concussion has resolved, he may participate in the Club’s next practice or game.
     
  • If Leonard can’t go on Sunday, that likely means a bigger role for rookie Bobby Okereke. While fellow rookie E.J. Speed is the backup WILL linebacker on the depth chart, he has yet to play a defensive snap in the NFL and was inactive in Week One. When Leonard left for a snap in Week One (his only missed snap of the season), it was Okereke joining Anthony Walker on the field. This is the linebacker snap breakdown through the first two weeks of the season: Leonard: 122-of-123 snaps, 99.1%, Walker: 71-of-123, 57.2%, Matthew Adams: 45-of-123 snaps, 36.6%, Okereke: 24-of-123, 21.1%. And then Speed and Zaire Franklin have yet to play a single defensive snap.
     
  • Such an injury situation the Colts currently have at linebacker was something on the mind of Chris Ballard this offseason. He didn’t like his linebacker depth in 2018, especially when guys like Leonard or Walker were off the field in games against the Dolphins and Giants. “I started thinking this last year when we played the Giants, remember when everybody was hurt/dinged up?” Ballard recalled earlier this offseason after drafting Okereke and Speed. “So we actually had (Ahmad) Thomas come in, playing the dime, but Walker was hurt, and Leonard was dealing with the ankle all year, so we were down to having to play our practice squad guy, and I was (thinking), ‘We’ve got to build some depth at inside linebacker. It’s too important to us.'” Well, Sunday looks like it will test that search for depth with more Okereke.
     
  • Marlon Mack (calf) was watching practice on Thursday, with no helmet. It was a second straight DNP for the league’s 3rd ranked rusher. Mack has 45 carries through two games, the most in the NFL. Earlier in the week, we saw Mack with a protective boot so maybe this injury developed in the Titans game? Friday will be an important day to watch for Mack’s availability on Sunday. If he can’t go, I’d expect Jordan Wilkins to start, and Nyheim Hines to remain in the 3rd down/hybrid role. Interesting note on Wilkins: Currently, there are 84 players in the NFL with at least 65 career carries. Wilkins tops that entire list with 6.43 yards per carry. Next on the list is Aaron Jones at 5.32 YPC. Even if you take out Wilkins’ two 50-plus runs, he’s still averaging more than 4.8 yards per carry.
     
  • Chad Kelly has cleared waivers and will return to the Colts, on the team’s practice squad. Now, on the practice squad, Kelly can still be signed by another team around the league, so his security there isn’t locked in stone (the Colts could also promote Kelly to their 53-man roster, if this happens). But the Colts clearly still want to try and groom a quarterback that did impress in the preseason. From a depth standpoint, the Colts actually might have one of the deeper trios of signal callers in the league.
     
  • On paper, the Falcons provide one of the more talented QB/WR matchups the Colts will see this season, particularly at home. And the defenders of the Colts have taken notice. “I guess we got to keep the ball out of the receivers hands and make them try to run the ball,” defensive end Justin Houston said on Thursday. Good news on the pass defense front for the Colts is CB-Pierre Desir (knee) practicing each of the last two days.
     
  • NFL agents think really highly of Chris Ballard. In this anonymous poll (by The Athletic) of 21 NFL agents, Chris Ballard was the leading vote getter for the ‘No. 1 front office NFL talent evaluator.’ Ballard got 5 votes (Bill Belichick was 2nd with 4 votes). Said one agent: “Track record of picking players is obviously. Also a good person.”
     
  • Through 2 weeks, the Colts have 8 sacks by 7 different guys. The variety of guys that have already gotten to the quarterback is notable. Last year, the Colts had 9 guys earn a sack, so they are far ahead of that pace. The Colts rank 3rd in the NFL right now with a sack on 12.9% of pass attempts. That’s a strong number for the Indy defensive front. “I think it’s a game changer and it helps us as a whole,” Justin Houston said on Thursday. “So you can rotate guys and you’ve got a fresh guy rushing the passer at all times. It helps the defense as a whole. It gives us more one-on-one battles.”
     
  • The Colts will practice one more time on Friday before Sunday’s home opener against the Falcons. The Colts and Falcons will kick off at 1:00 PM.

 

THURSDAY INJURY REPORT

 

DNP: LB-Darius Leonard, RB-Marlon Mack (calf)

 

            -Bowen Analysis: The injury updates on these two are above.

 

LIMITED: DE-Jabaal Sheard (knee), CB-Pierre Desir (knee), WR-T.Y. Hilton (quad)

 

            -Bowen Analysis: I still would be surprised if Sheard played on Sunday given he’s missed nearly two months and he’s yet to fully participate in practice this week. This is good news on Desir, who has been limited both Wednesday and Thursday.

 

FULL: QB-Jacoby Brissett (knee), RB-Jonathan Williams (ribs), DE-Kemoko Turay (neck), DE-Al-Quadin Muhammad

 

           -Bowen Analysis: Brissett has played every snap this season, but this is the first time he’s been on the injury report. We’ve seen Brissett wear a knee brace before in a game, but not often (if at all) in practice. Turay looks like he will return in Week Three. Williams should be good to go, if he’s needed for Marlon Mack.

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