INDIANAPOLIS — For a second straight offseason, Darius Leonard will have to wait until training camp to really begin his on-field preparations for the upcoming season.
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard today told reporters that Leonard, the NFL's 2018 Defensive Rookie of the Year and First-Team All-Pro selection at linebacker, recently underwent a minor procedure to his ankle that will keep him out about six weeks.
While Leonard is expected to be ready to go for training camp, that six-week window will keep him out of the rest of the offseason workout program, which includes OTAs and minicamp.
Leonard isn't the only key Colts player to have had a minor procedure this offseason; Ballard also confirmed that tight end Eric Ebron underwent surgery to his groin back in April.
Leonard initially suffered the ankle injury early last season, but he still managed to play in 15 regular season games — he missed the Colts' Week 5 game against the New England Patriots — and led the entire league in total tackles (163) and solo stops (111).
Leonard, the Colts' 2018 second-round pick out of South Carolina State, also added seven sacks, eight quarterback hits, 12 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions and eight passes defensed.
While Leonard won't be available for the rest of the offseason workout program, he can lean on a similar situation from last year, when he battled a nagging quad injury and wasn't fully available for on-field work until the start of training camp.
Ebron, meanwhile, isn't expected to miss any significant amount of time, but could be limited over the next few weeks as a precaution. He tweeted April 4 that "the procedure today was a major success."
In his first season with the Colts in 2018, Ebron earned his first-career Pro Bowl selection after catching 66 passes for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns — all career highs — and also registering a rushing touchdown.
Ebron's 13 receiving touchdowns set a Colts single-season record for a tight end, and he led all NFL tight ends in receiving touchdowns in 2018 and tied for the second-most among all players. His 14 total touchdowns tied for fifth in the NFL.
Other injury updates
Ballard also provided offseason injury updates on several other key Colts players:
» Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will slowly be brought back into the mix heading into training camp so he can continue to rest up from a low and high ankle sprain suffered Week 14 against the Houston Texans. With two injuries to the same ankle, Hilton still managed to catch 32 passes for 628 yards and one touchdown during Indy's final six games, including two playoff matches.
» Tight end Jack Doyle is progressing well from offseason hip surgery, and is still expected to be good to go for training camp. Doyle originally suffered, and played through, the hip injury in the Colts' Week 2 victory over the Washington Redskins, and missed the next five games. But then, just four games into his return, in the third quarter of the team's Week 12 matchup against the Miami Dolphins, Doyle "took a pretty big hit" to his kidney, according to head coach Frank Reich, and after the game he was admitted to a local hospital, where he underwent season-ending surgery. Doyle then elected to have hip surgery early this offseason.
» Wide receiver Deon Cain is also progressing well from a torn ACL suffered during the team's first 2018 preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, and is still expected to be brought back into the mix during training camp, though Ballard doesn't expect Cain to be back to 100 percent until about midway through the regular season.
» Others who could be limited or held out as a precaution over the next few weeks going into training camp include linebacker Anthony Walker and safety Clayton Geathers. Ballard said safety Malik Hooker, who missed some time with knee and foot injuries last year, has been full-go this offseason.