Indianapolis, Indiana – November 23, 2023
Following the abrupt release of linebacker Shaquille Leonard, the Colts returned to their training grounds at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, striving to adapt to the absence of a team captain while honing their focus on a pivotal clash against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lucas Oil Stadium this Sunday.
Head coach Shane Steichen addressed Leonard’s departure, remarking, “To say there is a right time to release a player, I think it’s hard. It was a decision that was made. It was a tough decision. I’m not going to get into all the details. But I do, I wish him all the best. He was great for this organization.”
The news reverberated throughout the Colts’ locker room, evoking a blend of disappointment at Leonard’s departure and recognition of the unforgiving nature of the NFL as a business.
Linebacker Zaire Franklin reflected on Leonard’s exit, stating, “It was hard to see it come to an end like that… It’s tough, but we gotta move forward.”
Colts players acknowledged Leonard’s exceptional character and impact on the team. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner praised Leonard, describing him as “one hell of a person, one hell of a teammate, player,” and emphasized the difficulty of seeing him depart.
Despite the emotional blow, the Colts brace for a crucial Week 12 clash against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recognizing the necessity to maintain focus amid Leonard’s absence.
Running back Jonathan Taylor emphasized the responsibility of team leaders to regroup and concentrate on the impending game, acknowledging the challenge ahead.
Having already weathered various setbacks this season, the team stands at 5-5, harboring aspirations for a playoff berth. However, navigating life without Leonard presents a new hurdle as they strive to secure a spot in the AFC playoffs.
Linebacker Franklin expressed the palpable absence of Leonard within the team, acknowledging the void left by his departure but emphasizing the need to persist.