Colts LB Shaquille Leonard is already an early candidate for the CPOY Award

Washington Commanders v Indianapolis Colts
Washington Commanders v Indianapolis Colts / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

As Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard works his way back on the field, he’s already being viewed as a Comeback Player of the Year candidate.

In 2022, Shaquille Leonard was the best linebacker in all of football. His ferocious play style and uncanny ability to force turnovers made the Indianapolis Colts one of the more promising teams heading into the 2023 season. Unfortunately, Leonard didn’t really have the opportunity to play last season, and the Colts had an extremely underwhelming year.

Recovering from a back surgery that was done during the 2022 offseason, Leonard attempted multiple comebacks during the 2022 season. He ultimately played just 74 snaps over three games before being shut down for the season. Although he was fighting to be on the field, it was clear that Leonard wasn’t himself, so he returned to the sideline to get completely healthy.

That meant a second back surgery in November, that Leonard is currently working his way back from. As he prepares to make his return to the field, he’s being highlighted as a potential Comeback Player of the Year candidate. Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report named Leonard as one of eight players that have a good chance to win CPOY.

Will Shaquille Leonard win CPOY for the 2023 season?

Moton pointed out that Leonard has been a top linebacker in the NFL since he entered the league, and says, “If his recovery continues to trend in the right direction, we should see the same All-Pro-caliber playmaker from his pre-injury years.” There shouldn’t be many people doubting that; the only question is when will Leonard be back on the field.

With the Colts currently in OTAs, Leonard isn’t practicing. Head coach Shane Steichen told the media that Leonard is progressing well but there isn’t a timetable for his return. That’s pretty much been the only kind of update we’ve been getting for Leonard, though, Logan Ryan, who trains with Leonard, recently shared that the linebacker looks really good.

The Colts are likely going to be cautious this offseason as they work Leonard back into the lineup, but everyone is hoping that he’ll be ready to go, in his full form, by Week 1. If Leonard is healthy, he should reclaim his status as the best linebacker in football and will have a pretty good chance to win Comeback Player of the Year.