INDIANAPOLIS — One of the lingering questions left from this weekend’s roster cuts for the Indianapolis Colts was where starting defensive end Jabaal Sheard was in his recovery process as he works his way back from a minor knee procedure.
Would the Colts place him on injured reserve, opening up a roster spot for at least the first half of the season? Or does the team think Sheard could come back at some point over the next few weeks?
General manager Chris Ballard provided a helpful hint on Sunday, however, when he told reporters that the team will not be placing Sheard on IR, likely meaning the Colts do not believe his injury is serious enough to warrant him sitting out at least the first half of the season.
“No, we won’t IR him,” Ballard said.
Sheard, 30, took part in the Colts’ first training camp practice at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., on July 25, but Reich said he experienced some “soreness and swelling” in his knee, and he hasn’t practiced since, including Sunday's first official practice of the regular season at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center indoor facility.
Reich confirmed Aug. 6 that Sheard had undergone a minor knee procedure to fix the issue, acknowledging it was a “possibility” that he could miss time to start the regular season.
Had the Colts decided to place Sheard on injured reserve after Saturday’s 4 p.m. ET league-mandated deadline to form their regular season 53-man roster, he would’ve been required to sit out at least the first eight weeks of the regular season before the team could decide to use one of its two return-from-IR designations on him.
Sheard's durability and leadership have been key for the Colts' defense since he arrived in Indianapolis back in 2017.
Sheard has never missed a game — or a start — in his two seasons with the Colts. He has collected a combined 102 tackles (23 for a loss) with 11.0 sacks, 27 quarterback hits, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in his 32 regular season games in Indy, while his 7.6 run stop percentage — plays in which he’s earned a “stop,” or a “loss for the defense,” according to Pro Football Focus — ranked 11th among all eligible NFL edge defenders in 2018.
With Sheard on the mend, the Colts have mostly turned to Al-Quadin Muhammad along the left edge, while at times rotating other players — including Justin Houston, the starter over at right defensive end — into that spot.