All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard (back) was a full participant in the Colts' practice on Wednesday:
- The Colts' plan for Leonard is to see how he practices this week and evaluate him after Friday's final practice ahead of Sunday's opener.
- Head coach Frank Reich emphasized that plan again on Wednesday: "We're going to just take it day by day," Reich said. "I'm happy with the progress he's making. But he just needs more action to gauge what it's going to feel like. He's been cleared so he can do everything he needs to do, but he's far from 100 percent. But that's okay. He can play at 80 percent. That's kind of a number I have in my mind. I don't know if my 80 percent equals what his 80 percent is." (Reich explained longtime Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy believed 80 percent was the cutoff for a player being able to play winning football.)
- Here's how Leonard described things last week: "If I'm not out there hurting the team, then I think I can be out there," Leonard said. "But if I feel like I'm hurting the team, I gotta be a man, look at myself in the mirror and say, you know what, yes I want to be out there, yes I want to compete, but is it best for the team if I'm on the field. And that's the decision that me, the staff, Frank (Reich) and Chris (Ballard) have to make." (Leonard is slated to speak to the media again before Thursday's practice.)
- Quarterback Matt Ryan has noticed everything that's gone into Leonard getting back on the practice field, too. "I know he's worked his (butt) off to get to this point," Ryan said. "I've seen it every day. He's in here early, working with the trainers in the weight room, constantly working on his body, and I respect him for the way he's went about that.
We had a chance to hear from Matt Ryan before Wednesday's practice, too. Some highlights:
- It's been nearly five months since Ryan and Colts players first convened at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center for the start of the offseason program in mid-April. Months until the season opener turned into weeks, and now are measured in days – and soon enough, hours. "I think games are the celebration of all the hard work you put in throughout the year," Ryan said. "And so this team has done a great job of focusing and working extremely hard since we got together in April, and this is our first opportunity to go out there and celebrate that hard work and put it on the field. I'm looking forward to it. We need a great week of practice, there's no doubt, but the focus the guys have had really all year, I expect to be the exact same this week.
- Over the five-ish months he's been in Indianapolis, Ryan has got to know his new teammates as he's been impressed with their focus during practice, meetings, etc. And with the start of the season on the horizon, Ryan explained why he's excited to take the field with those guys: "I feel like we've got a good team," Ryan said. "There's lots of guys on this team that can make plays. Our defense has done a great job during training camp, special teams have been very good around here for a long time. We've got an awesome running back, good offensive line, young wide receivers who are hungry that also feel like they want to prove something too and I feel like they can. I'm excited about this group."