INDIANAPOLIS — The bye week came at an ideal time for the Indianapolis Colts, as the few extra days of rest did wonders for several key players working their way back from injuries.
Case in point: two of those players — linebacker Darius Leonard and Clayton Geathers — were both able to clear the league's concussion protocol and participate in a bonus practice day of sorts on Monday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said with Sunday's major divisional matchup against the Houston Texans on the horizon, it felt good to see two of his defensive leaders back out on the practice field today.
"Two key leaders," Reich told Colts.com's Matt Taylor on Monday. "Darius, obviously, he's the vocal, emotional leader, right? And Clayton is just a backbone of that defense, (with) his mindset and toughness. So getting both of those guys back is a big lift for our defense."
Leonard has missed the Colts' last three games after experiencing concussion-like symptoms following Indy's Week 2 victory over the Tennessee Titans; he was subsequently placed in the league's concussion protocol.
The All-Pro linebacker was able to get back to limited participation in all three of the Colts' practices leading up to their Week 5 matchup against the Chiefs, but Reich said Leonard was not going to be able to pass all the steps required to clear the concussion protocol by kickoff.
With Leonard out, the team has shifted MIKE linebacker Anthony Walker into his place at WILL linebacker, while rookie Bobby Okereke has gotten his first three career starts at MIKE linebacker.
Geathers, meanwhile, played all 67 defensive snaps in the Colts' Week 4 matchup against the Oakland Raiders, but was placed in the concussion protocol after experiencing symptoms following the game.
Geathers did not practice all week leading up to the Chiefs game, and was one of five players — along with Leonard — ruled out two days before kickoff. Rookie Khari Willis got the start in his place against the Chiefs.
Other injury updates
While one starting safety was able to return to the practice field on Monday, another remained on the sideline.
Malik Hooker, who continues to work his way back from a knee injury suffered Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons, was not seen participating in the team's bonus practice day.
Asked in Monday's press conference if Hooker could potentially return to practice later this week, Reich said, "we're hopeful that he keeps progressing."
"We'll see how the week goes," Reich said. "But he has made good progress."
Rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell, meanwhile, is also making progress after undergoing a procedure to his abdomen following the Raiders game, but his immediate status is a little bit more up in the air, Reich said.
"(We've got) some good news, and making good progress," Reich said. "Not sure with him as much (returning this week), but keeping things optimistic. But ... we're really encouraged with the direction he's heading."
Besides Hooker and Campbell, other players that were not seen participating in the early portion of Monday's practice that was available to be seen by the media were cornerback Kenny Moore II, cornerback Pierre Desir, linebacker Zaire Franklin and defensive tackle/end Tyquan Lewis.