Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard suffered a back injury and was scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday, per Zak Keefer of The Athletic.
There was a silver lining for the Colts star, as Keefer noted he will not require a second surgery on his ankle and should be ready for the 2022 regular season. The three-time All-Pro will miss some of training camp, though, as he recovers.
That Leonard is expected to be ready by the start of the campaign is welcome news for the Colts considering how important he is to the defense.
The 26-year-old has been in the league for four seasons, and his resume already includes the Defensive Rookie of the Year award and three Pro Bowl nods. He led the league with 163 tackles as a rookie and posted an NFL-best eight forced fumbles in 2021.
Leonard finished last season with 122 tackles, eight passes defended, four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
He is versatile, with the ability to plug holes against the run and drop back into pass coverage. While he didn't have a sack last season, he tallied 15 in his first three years in the league as someone who can also pressure the passer.
Indianapolis could turn to E.J. Speed if Leonard is sidelined for longer than expected. Speed has been in the league since 2019, when the Colts drafted him in the fifth round, and appeared in 44 games with one start.
Still, Indianapolis will be far more formidable on the defensive side if Leonard is ready to go when it starts the season at the Houston Texans on Sept. 11.