Colts’ Darius Leonard cleared to return

National

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indianapolis Colts are enjoying their bye week, but one of their cornerstone players is eager to get back to work.

All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard announced on his Instagram account Tuesday he has cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol. He missed the last three games after experiencing concussion symptoms following the week 2 win over the Tennessee Titans.

“Big Mood after getting cleared to play again . . . let’s go! #manic,’’ Leonard posted. It included a video of him showing off his dance moves at training camp.

It appeared Leonard was on track to return for last Sunday’s trip to Kansas City. He practiced three days, each time in a limited capacity. However, Frank Reich announced Friday Leonard “didn’t clear protocol.

“It’s just all the steps you have to take. Just not going to get there in time for the game.’’

The Colts overcame the absence of Leonard and starting safeties Clayton Geathers and Malik Hooker to post a 19-13 upset of the previous undefeated Chiefs.

The good news on Leonard could be buttressed by similar updates on other players.

Geathers missed the Chiefs game with a concussion and Hooker has missed the last two games after undergoing a procedure on his left knee. Geathers obviously must pass through the league’s concussion protocol while Hooker indicated there’s a chance he could return when the Colts meet the Houston Texans Oct. 20 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

During the Chiefs game, cornerbacks Pierre Desir and Kenny Moore II briefly left the game with injuries before returning. Also, wideout T.Y. Hilton has been dealing with a quadriceps injury and running back Marlon Mack an ankle injury.

“(We) get a chance for a bye right now and get healed up a little bit,’’ Reich said Monday.

Leonard figures to be ultra-eager.

The 2018 second-round draft pick immediately emerged as one of the NFL’s rising stars. He led the league and set a Colts record with 181 tackles. He was selected first-team All-Pro and named Defensive Rookie of the Year on the strength of a full stat line: 13 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 2 interceptions and four defended passes.

In two games this year, Leonard has 18 tackles and 1 sack.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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