WESTFIELD – Twelve months ago, Camp Chaos opened at Grand Park Sports Campus.
Remember? Chris Ballard plopped down behind a microphone for his pre-training camp meeting with the media and started the ball cascading down the hill.
“So of course, I can’t have one of these without something going on,’’ he said.
Frank Reich had tested positive for COVID-19 and would miss the start of camp. Before anyone had a chance to break a serious sweat, quarterback Carson Wentz broke a bone in his left foot and All-World guard Quenton Nelson broke a bone in his right foot.
There was more. There always seems to be more, whether it’s Andrew Luck’s shoulder/ankle issues or COVID-19 forcing everyone to adjust.
“Look, you’re going to have some things happen. That’s just normal,’’ Ballard said Tuesday. “I wish it was going to be smooth sailing throughout.
“I mean, that would be great. But that’s not realistic.’’
But as the Indianapolis Colts reported to camp Tuesday, things were, well, rather uneventful.
Much of the attention focused on a certain All-Pro linebacker.
That would be Shaquille Leonard, aka Darius Shaquille Leonard.
Turns out, Leonard has hated – hated – answering to Darius.
“I call him ‘Bro,’’’ Kenny Moore II said with a smile.
“I did know he goes by Shaquille,’’ linebacking colleague Zaire Franklin said. “He told me that my rookie year, but I call him D-Leonard. I just don’t call him Darius. He really don’t like that.
“If we just try to figure out what Darius’ name is going to be in the program, I guess we can debate about that for four weeks.’’
Wouldn’t that be a nice break from the usual issues that can distract from the overriding objective, which in this case is preparing for the Sept. 11 homer at Houston?
“No question,’’ Franklin said. “I’m so, so, so excited about this season.’’
Which brings us to Tuesday’s opening of training camp and issues that fell well short of Reich’s positive test or a broken bones in a foot of two prominent players.
First, Shaquille Leonard.
On the injury front, he’s still in rehab mode after undergoing back surgery in mid-June. The team’s medical staff finally discovered the source of pain in Leonard’s left leg that had been bothering him for some time and kept him off the field during offseason work.
“Surgery was (for) two disks sitting on two nerves that caused pain all the way down by left (side) . . . so got that fixed,’’ he said. “I’m ready to continue to rehab. I’m happy where I’m at right now.’’
Leonard opens camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), and there’s no timetable for his return.
“When I’m ready, I think you’ll see me on the field after that,’’ he said. “Just kind of happy we found the answer when we did and just ready to rock and roll when I can.’’
And the Shaquille preference?
“I went by Shaquille my whole life. My mom called me Shaquille. My friends and family called me Shaquille,’’ Leonard said. “I never went by Darius. Only in school or when I was causing trouble.’’
He kept his wishes to himself after the Colts selected him in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, in part after talking with Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss.
“He said, ‘The best advice I can give you is keep your mouth closed and ears and eyes opened,’’’ Leonard said. “So I just came in and wanted to work. I just went with it.’’
“I love being called Shaquille. Hate being called Darius,’’ Leonard said. “I understand it’s going to be hard, but would love it if y’all tried to call me Shaquille or D or Maniac and not Darius.’’
Leonard’s name aside, here are a few tidbits from Tuesday, most of which were addressed by Ballard:
Signing a veteran wideout
“We’re still having those discussions,’’ Ballard said.
The Colts have not ruled out re-signing T.Y. Hilton.
“T.Y. still is in the mix,’’ he said.
Ballard quickly dismissed speculation of adding Julio Jones, who enjoyed so many outstanding seasons in Atlanta with Matt Ryan.
“We have not had any discussions about Julio,’’ he said. “I know there are reports out there, but those reports are wrong.
“We like who we have. I just don’t see quite the desperation.’’
Others on PUP
Along with Leonard, the team placed safety Rodney McLeod, defensive lineman Tyquan Lewis and wideout Mike Strachan on PUP.
McLeod and Strachan underwent knee surgeries during the offseason while Lewis is rehabbing a torn patellar tendon. McLeod and Lewis are “close’’ to returning, according to Ballard, while the team hopes Strachan’s return can occur before camp ends.
It appears McLeod, who is projected as a starter, is very close.
“This is probably more us than him right now,’’ Ballard said. “We expect him back quickly, without any setbacks.’’
Also, rookie Eric Johnson was placed on the non-football injury list after tweaking his back during training.
“We don’t think that’ll be a long issue,’’ Ballard said.
Moore on hand
As expected, Kenny Moore II reported and is ready to go to work when the Colts hit the practice field for the first time Wednesday. The veteran cornerback didn’t participate in portions of the voluntary offseason work to show his displeasure for his contract situation.
Where do things stand?
“It was the same I left it in the spring,’’ he said. “I’m just going to let them take care of that. I’m going to play football with these teammates, this coaching staff. Let’s go.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.