ESPN: Jets' Jimmy on the spot seizes the day

Leonhard's TD-saving play symbolized team's never-give-up attitude in thrilling win
By Rich Cimini
ESPNNewYork.com


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jim Leonhard came out of nowhere, just like the New York Jets. He chased down Jason Witten and wrestled him out of bounds, saving a touchdown and giving his team a chance to pull off one of the most improbable comeback victories in franchise history.

On an unforgettable night at MetLife Stadium, where the Jets and Dallas Cowboys met on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in nearby Manhattan, Leonhard made the play of plays -- the one that symbolized the Jets' 27-24 win in the season opener.

It was all about grit and hustle, about the small guy coming up big -- and there was a lot of that for the Jets, who won for only the third time in team history after trailing by at least 14 points in the fourth quarter. The previous time was the "Monday Night Miracle" in 2000.


Jim Leonhard, Jason Witten
AP Photo/Julio CortezJim Leonhard knocked Jason Witten out of bounds at the 3-yard-line, saving a touchdown. Dallas fumbled three plays later.

For this mini-miracle, Leonhard came up huge, as did Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, Joe McKnight, Isaiah Trufant and Nick Folk. It was that kind of night. Rex Ryan, caught up in the emotion, said "it might have been the best team effort I can ever remember being part of."

On Leonhard's play, he prevented what was going to be a 67-yard touchdown reception by Witten. Leonhard sprinted some 40 yards and knocked Witten out at the Jets' 3-yard line with 10 minutes left in the game -- the 5-foot-8, 188-pound safety going up a few weight classes to take out the 6-6, 265-pound tight end.

If Leonhard hadn't shown up, the Cowboys would have taken a 14-point lead. But Leonhard didn't give up. Neither did the Jets, who wanted to win badly for New York. They were swept up in the 9/11 patriotism, which included a poignant pregame ceremony, and wanted to do right by their town.

Linebacker Bart Scott said "there was something special in the air." And guard Matt Slauson said, "We had no choice but to win." The Jets felt immense pressure, in part because Ryan declared last week that he'd never felt so much pressure leading into a game.

"You wanted to win for yourself, but you also wanted to win for the city," Leonhard said. "Rex said it was a team win. Everyone stepped up. The city stepped up 10 years ago. This was a celebration of what's gone on over the last 10 years. We kept fighting, just like they did."

Leonhard wasn't comparing a football game to a horrific terrorist attack; that would be trivializing a tragedy of unspeakable proportions. He was simply trying to capture his team's indomitable spirit.

The Jets overcame deficits of 10-0 and 24-10. They overcame two killer turnovers by Mark Sanchez. They overcame some sloppy pass defense. They overcame Rob Ryan, whose blitzing defense almost out-Rexed his twin brother.

It looked like this wasn't going to be their night. It looked like America's Team was going to run New York's Team out of its own place.

Up stepped Leonhard, the Jets' version of Mighty Mouse.

"It was one of those plays where you just keep running because you never know what might happen," he said. "We always have a saying, 'They're not in until they're in.'"

The Cowboys were in control, taking a 24-10 lead at the start of the fourth quarter after a gimme touchdown off an interception by Sanchez.

"It looked bleak; there's no question about it," Rex Ryan said.

The Jets answered with a Sanchez-to-Plaxico Burress touchdown, but they let Witten get free in their secondary for the 64-yard pass play from Tony Romo. Ball at the 3. On third down, Romo was pressured and tried to scramble back to the line of scrimmage, but the ball was jarred loose by DeVito.

There was a rugby scrum for the ball. Pouha grabbed it and threw his 330-pound body over the pigskin, wrestling it away from Cowboys rookie tackle Tyron Smith.

"The ref said, 'Where's the ball?'" Pouha said. "My stomach was eating it."

It was a game-saver.

"If we get points there," Witten said, "the game is probably a different story."

Sanchez, matching Romo for carelessness, fumbled it back to the Cowboys on the Jets' ensuing possession. But the defense held, forcing a Dallas punt. One more time, the Jets, a team known for their big names, received a clutch play from the bottom of the roster.

Third-string tailback McKnight, trying to do something -- anything -- to stay in good graces, came free up the middle and made a one-handed, diving block on Mat McBriar's punt. Trufant scooped it up and ran 18 yards for a game-tying touchdown with five minutes left.

Now you're thinking "Who is Isaiah Trufant?" He was the 46th man on the 46-man roster, signed Saturday from the practice squad. Two weeks ago, he was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles, flew home to Seattle, landed and returned immediately on a cross-country flight when he learned the Jets had acquired him.

"It's been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride," Trufant said.

The teams exchanged punts, but the game turned when Romo made a bad decision. He challenged Darrelle Revis and threw a Pop Warner pass to Dez Bryant, resulting in the interception that set up Folk's 50-yard field goal. It probably was one of the sweetest moments of Folk's career, considering that he was fired by the Cowboys in 2009.

"We kind of emulate what this city's all about: sticking together, being resilient and persevering through everything that was going on," Burress said.

It wasn't artistic, but it was some show.

When N.F.L. Stopped, Leonhard Kept Going

New York Times
By BEN SHPIGEL
Published: August 6, 2011


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — On March 12, the N.F.L. awoke to grave uncertainty amid its first work stoppage in 22 years. That morning in Madison, Wis., Jim Leonhard, the Jets’ do-everything safety, rolled out of bed and continued his recovery from a broken right leg, as if nothing in his life had changed.

The week before the league plunged into a lockout that banned communication between players and coaches, Leonhard coordinated his rehabilitation with the Jets’ training staff. Bracing for months of silence, he mapped out every aspect of his schedule.

“We had to make sure I was going to have everything that I needed,” Leonhard said. “We didn’t want to take any chances.”

Leonhard knew precisely when he would receive soft-tissue treatment, just as he knew when he could expect to resume football-related activities. Some days, he would focus on improving flexibility and regaining his natural gait. Others, he would concentrate on balance and mobility. When the lockout ended on July 25, less than eight months after he fractured his shin in a freak practice collision, Leonhard felt stronger than ever.

Within the next week, Leonhard is expected to join his teammates in full-contact practices, and his imminent return will serve as a testament to the collaborative effort among the organization, his surgeons and a slew of people in Madison that minimized the effects of the work stoppage. When the Jets open their season against Dallas on Sept. 11, Coach Rex Ryan says, Leonhard will start once again.

“The one thing I never worried about — and I don’t think anybody here worried about as far as Jim Leonhard was concerned — was that he was going to come back in great shape, and he has,” said Dennis Thurman, who coaches the Jets’ secondary. “Just look at him out there. He’s ready to go.”

Leonhard approached his convalescence with the same fervor and perseverance that have distinguished his career, defining his rise from walk-on at the University of Wisconsin to a hard-hitting, 5-foot-8 dynamo entrusted with conveying defensive signals to his teammates. He credited part of his swift recovery to the AlterG antigravity treadmill, a machine that allowed him to walk and run without inflicting severe pressure on the bone as it healed. Leonhard started using it at the Jets’ facility, and athletic trainers at Wisconsin put him in touch with David Nissenbaum, who had one at his Sport & Spine Clinic in Madison.

Through a provision in the lockout restrictions, Leonhard was able to consult with the Jets’ team doctors because they performed his surgery. But over time, Nissenbaum acted as an intermediary, providing the Jets’ head trainer, John Mellody, with weekly progress reports.

“Jim obviously had a relationship with the Jets’ trainers, so it was a little challenging relaying exactly how he felt to them,” Nissenbaum said. “But we never had a problem. We were always thinking the same.”

Leonhard sustained his injury at a most inopportune time, three days before a crucial game at New England. On the afternoon of Dec. 3, Leonhard and receiver Patrick Turner converged on a pass during seven-on-seven drills.

Turner’s knee smacked into Leonhard’s leg. Both men fell. Turner got up. Leonhard did not. He lay on the field grabbing his shin. The trainers rushed over. He was carted away and taken to Morristown Memorial Hospital.

“Just a freak accident,” Turner said. “My knee had to hit him just right for something like that to happen.”

The next day, Leonhard had surgery. Doctors inserted a rod to stabilize the bone. His season — with five games remaining, and three more in the playoffs — was over. Ryan, who lured Leonhard from the Baltimore Ravens after taking over the Jets in 2009, described his absence as devastating, and not just from a football perspective. Eric Smith, who started in place of Leonhard, called it an “emotional letdown.”

Cornerback Darrelle Revis said of Leonhard: “He’s our quarterback out there. He’s the Peyton Manning-Tom Brady of our defense. When he got hurt, I know I felt like we were going to have a problem back there.”

Tom Brady exploited a disorganized secondary in the Patriots’ 45-3 thrashing, shredding the Jets for 326 yards and 4 touchdowns. As his teammates regrouped, Leonhard cruised around the facility in a motorized cart bearing an improvised Wisconsin license plate that read, “Jim 36.” He studied videotape and assisted coaches, but after the A.F.C. championship game loss in Pittsburgh, he flew home to continue his therapy.

When Leonhard visited the clinic for the first time, on Feb. 1, he had recently gotten off crutches, so Nissenbaum started him on a treadmill-based program intended to normalize his walking mechanics. Leonhard put on a pair of spandex shorts and zipped himself into a harness as compressed air lifted him, a sensation he likened to floating.

“You get all these cardiovascular benefits, but with so much less stress on the bone,” Leonhard said. “Essentially, I was able to run about a month sooner than I would have without it.”

Three days a week for four months, Nissenbaum supervised his rehabilitation. Leonhard had a willing training partner in his younger brother, Tyler, a freshman walk-on for the Badgers.

By late March, he was walking backwards and crouching, mimicking his defensive stance. By late April, he was running outside again. By June, he was performing functional drills, sprinting, cutting and backpedaling, all of which he now does at full speed. Soon, Leonhard will be cleared for team drills, but one more limitation awaits. Ryan will not let him return punts this season, a concession to his injury. Leonhard said he would believe it when it actually happened.

“One thing about Jim Leonhard,” Thurman said. “Never underestimate him.”


... {a note from the wife: "fractured his shin" just doesn't sound as bad as the actual injury, a broken tibia... and, he was in surgery the same afternoon as the injury, not the next day. The team doctors as well as the doctors and staff at Morristown hospital did an amazing job! Thank you!} ...

(Neb.)-Woodhead, Heineman Speak At Scholarship Luncheon

By: Chad Franzen Posted at: 04/21/2011 08:33 AM

When the Nebraska State College System was looking for speakers for its annual Scholarship Luncheon, it found two of the state’s biggest names.

The event in downtown Lincoln on Friday, April 15, featured Danny Woodhead, the former Chadron State College football player who burst onto the NFL scene with the New England Patriots last fall, and Gov. Dave Heineman, who has occupied the state’s top post since January 2005. As an added bonus, Woodhead was accompanied by Jim Leonhard, a defensive back who was a teammate with the North Platte native during his time with the New York Jets.

About 30 students who will attend NSCS schools on Board of Trustees scholarships attended the event, three of whom will attend Woodhead’s alma mater. The NSCS consists of Chadron State College, Peru State College and Wayne State College.

While Woodhead has dazzled countless fans with his athletic skills, his academic achievements are also impressive. He graduated magna cum laude from Chadron State in May 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in math education.

In 2007, Woodhead was the college Division II Academic Player of the Year and a finalist for the Draddy Trophy, which is awarded to the best college player of all divisions with the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance. Woodhead was twice awarded the Harlon Hill Trophy for being the best player in NCAA Division II. He also is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American.

Woodhead and Leonhard's wives, Stacia and Katie, also attended Friday's event.

Recipients of the Board of Trustees Scholarship receive a four-year tuition scholarship to cover up to 16 credit hours of on-campus tuition for eight semesters. Students must maintain a 3.25 cumulative grade point average to qualify for the renewal each year. Recipients are residents of Nebraska who have an ACT score of 25 or above or a SAT score of 1700 or above. The application deadline is in September.

—Justin Haag, CSC Information Services

Leonhard back on his feet

NEW YORK
KRISTIAN DYER
Published: January 20, 2011 2:38 a.m.
Last modified: January 20, 2011 2:41 a.m.


Just days after former Jets lineman Dennis Byrd walked into the team’s meeting room to share his inspirational story of overcoming a paralyzing injury suffered on the football field, safety Jim Leonhard walked into the Jets locker room for the first time in more than a month on his own strength. Leonhard, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in December, had been relegated to moving around in an electric scooter.

Now the Jets safety and the man considered the “quarterback of the secondary” scooted around the Jets locker room on his own two feet yesterday.

“Everything is looking good,” Leonhard told Metro. “X-Rays looked good. Everything is on track.”

This week is the first time that Leonhard, who moved with a slight limp, has walked around on his own two feet. The injury was a result of a collision with a practice squad player, shelving Leonhard right before the Week 13 showdown in New England. He voiced his frustration at not being able to help the team on the field for Sunday’s AFC championship game but plans on going to the game to support his teammates.

“I’m ready to play now,” Leonhard said. “I just don’t think the team’s trainers are ready for me to do that.”

Leonhard remains uncertain about being available for offseason training and conditioning but he said his goal is to be back on the field for next season.

New York Jets rally in Times Square Thursday

Jennifer Matarese, Eyewitness News

NEW YORK (WABC) -- There will be a rally in Times Square for the New York Jets Thursday afternoon.

The rally will take place on Broadway between 42nd and 43rd Streets from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Jets owner Woody Johnson, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, Safety Jim Leonhard, Nose Tackle Kris Jenkins and the Flight Crew Cheerleaders will all be on hand to help get fans pumped up for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There will also be giveaways for fans that include Jets Playoff Rally Towels courtesy of JetBlue and Toyota, Foam Fingers courtesy of Pepsi Max and commemorative.

One lucky fan and a guest will win a trip to this weekend's game courtesy of JetBlue and PrimeSport.

The Jets AFC Championship Rally is presented by Hess, JetBlue, Papa John's and Pepsi Max.

Leonhard Still Pitches In Everywhere He Can

New York Jets | Randy's Radar
Posted by Eric Allen on January 19, 2011 – 5:23 pm


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

That Charles Dickens quote comes to mind when you think of Jim Leonhard as the Jets prepare for Sunday’s battle with the Steelers. The sixth-year safety is an integral part of the Green & White, but he broke his right tibia in practice on Dec. 3, was placed on injured reserve the next day and has been forced to watch this latest Jets’ playoff run.

“It definitely is bittersweet. We were 9-2 when I got hurt and I had a lot of contributions to this team, but to miss December, to miss January, to miss this playoff run — it really hurts. It definitely hurts,” he told me this week on “Four Quarters.” “It’s still hard to go to meetings and things like that, but you realize you did all you could before you got hurt. If we get that ring, I’m still going to get one. I’m excited and I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the guys out.”

Leonhard has hardly been inactive, though, regularly making appearances for the club throughout the winter. Last Friday, he flipped a switch at the Empire State Building in a ceremony that led to the jewel in the Manhattan skyline being illuminated by green and white lights.

“To have the opportunity to light up the Empire State Building, that’s an opportunity that only comes around once in a lifetime,” said the Tony, Wis., native. “That was great, to represent the organization and to do that on behalf of the Jets. It was a lot of fun to see that fans’ reaction to that.”

When the victorious Jets flew home from New England on Sunday night, the pilot announced that they had been granted a special fly-by past the Manhattan landmark.

“I know they flew the plane back around the Empire State building to show the players after the game,” said Leonhard. “It means a lot to have the entire city of New York behind you. And Jersey and everything behind the Jets right now is a great feeling.”

Once reeling from the loss of Leonhard, the secondary has played splendidly in the postseason while containing Peyton Manning and then dominating Tom Brady.

“We’ve played a lot more zone coverage than we normally do the last two weeks and it really has confused teams. Then on top of that, when you play your man coverages or when you play your different zone coverages, it’s changed up,” said Leonhard. “There is a great mix and an offensive coordinator and a quarterback are really confused because they have to think every single play. I think that has been a huge key to our success against probably the two best quarterbacks in the NFL. Anytime you can get them confused, you’re doing some great things.”

Eric Smith has been doing great things in the postseason manning Leonhard’s position. He had seven tackles against the Patriots and recovered an onside kick to secure the victory after totaling eight solo tackles and two passes defended against the Colts.

“He’s been playing some great football. It’s been so fun to watch and to see him take that next step,” Leonhard said. “Somebody will make one or two guys miss and they get to Eric, it’s an unbelievable hit every time, and the guy’s down right there. That’s fun to watch. As a safety, he’s bringing that physical presence and he’s playing out of his mind right now. We need him to continue to play that way for us to have success.”

Instead of sulking about not playing in his third consecutive conference championship, Leonhard’s been a fixture at the facility: watching film, going to meetings and dropping bits of knowledge on his teammates. He is excited for Sunday’s matchup against a Ben Roethlisberger-led team that knocked him and the Ravens out of Super Bowl contention back in the 2008 AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field.

“He really doesn’t care if he does get hit,” Leonhard said of the Steelers’ QB. “A lot of times, you’ll get a free runner at him and with their blocking schemes it’s almost like they say, ‘Big Ben, you have to make somebody miss and then get the ball off.’ That’s what makes their offense unique and they get so many big plays off of him extending the play, shaking off a defender and then throwing the ball down the field.

“It definitely presents some challenges to a secondary, having a quarterback that can really extend that play two, three, four and five seconds. You really have to get those trackshoes on and get ready to run sometimes.”

The Steelers will field a better club than they did when the Jets visited on Dec. 19 as all-world S Troy Polamalu will be in the lineup. Leonhard believes the Steelers’ playmaker and his former Ravens teammate, Ed Reed, are the best two safeties in football. He has tremendous respect for Polamalu, a rangy player who plays with great aggression.

“You definitely can use it against him at times. He does get out of position because of a lot of the disguises and movement that he does. If you hit it at the right time, you can get some big plays out of it and a lot of times that’s where his big plays come from,” he said. “It looks like he’s badly beaten and he ends up making up ground, getting an interception or forcing a fumble. It’s the balancing act of attacking him and also staying away from him. That will be a great chessmatch between him and Mark all game long.”

The Jets’ charter this week will leave Newark, N.J., with Leonhard on board. Hopefully late Sunday night when that plane returns from Pittsburgh, he’ll see the Empire State Building still lit up in green and white after a most memorable victory.

“This will be the first game I’ve been at since I’ve been hurt, so I’m very excited to travel, be on the sidelines and hopefully stay out of the way and not get in trouble. I’m excited,” he said. “There’s no other place that I want to be than on that sideline after the game, celebrating with the guys and wearing that AFC Championship gear and getting ready for the Super Bowl.”

Today is LET US PLAY Day. Help NFL Players and Fans Block the Lockout. Visit NFLLockout.com and sign the Petition.

NFLLockout.com


For more information on how the NFL owners have planned to keep the players from playing next season, go to the NFLPA's Lockout Central to find fact sheets and more.

Injured Leonhard finds way to help


Jets Blog
By DAN TOMASINO
Last Updated: 7:50 AM, January 15, 2011


Jim Leonhard might be the only Jet to open his mouth this week and not rip Tom Brady or Bill Belichick.

Leonhard, lost for the season when he broke his right leg in practice Dec. 3, wasn’t on the field for the 45-3 drubbing the Patriots laid on the Jets three days later, so it might not be as “personal” for him as it is for other Jets when they visit New England tomorrow in an AFC divisional playoff game.

Then again, maybe the Jets safety recognizes the incredibly difficult task his teammates will face when they try to stop, slow down or contain Brady, who torched the Jets for 326 yards and four touchdowns that infamous Monday night.

COMPLETE JETS COVERAGE

“We learned a lot from that game,” Leonhard said. “You learn from what they did well because you know they’re gonna attack you the same way and at least see if you corrected those mistakes. They have to be thinking that’s the way to attack us ...

“They got both their tight ends involved. That’s been their formula for success the last couple [of] months of the season. That’s definitely where our focus needs to be.”

Leonhard, speaking at the top of the Empire State Building, which will shine green and white this weekend in honor of Gang Green, has counseled the Jets secondary all week, hoping his expertise will pay off even though he can’t play.

What has he been telling them?

“Little things that I’ve picked up on Brady and different players that you hope there’s times during the game where they might be able to use it,” Leonhard said.

Does that mean Brady has flaws the Jets can exploit?

“I wouldn’t necessarily say flaws,” Leonhard said. “But everyone has tendencies, the way they operate and little things about their game. Sometimes it’s hard to take advantage of them, but you do the best you can and if it’s something you recognize during the course of a game, you try to exploit it.”

Leonhard said the Patriots are particularly tough to game plan for because they use so many different types of players — quick receivers such as Wes Welker, big tight ends like Aaron Hernandez and running backs like Danny Woodhead.

“They [have] a great mix,” Leonhard said. “They spread the ball all over the place, which is their M.O. now. I try to give [Jets defensive players] any little bit of information that helps them prepare for a team like this.”

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/jets/injured_leonhard_c1GfzGzU66t1pVGczcAryM#ixzz1B7X3cxEs

Bloomberg Predicts Jets Will Play In The Super Bowl

By: NY1 News
CLICK HERE to watch the video.

Appearing on his Friday radio show with John Gambling, Mayor Michael Bloomberg boldly predicted the New York Jets will be the last team standing in the National Football League this season.

"The Jets are going to the Super Bowl. You heard it from me,” said the mayor. “I don't want to jinx them. But it was interesting, an article in the paper about Rex Ryan and he's all the stuff he's out there cheering up, this is my target, whatever, that builds the brand and it builds the Jets as an economic value to the city. You know, all this stuff is good. Sports, even if you don't like it, your livelihood depends on it, your tax rates depend on it. We want New York teams to be successful."

The Jets have a tall task if they want to prove the mayor right.

Just to get to Super Bowl XLV, the Jets have to win two more games, starting with their match-up against the heavily favored Patriots in New England on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Jets are getting some team spirit from one of the city's most famous skyscrapers.

The Empire State Building will be lit green and white through Sunday night.

Jets safety Jim Leonhard was on hand to flip the switch Friday.

"The guys are putting the finishing touches on a great week of preparation and looking forward to going up to New England to get us a W," said Leonhard. "Like I said, I am very honored to be here and would like to thank the entire City of New York for having our backs, and obviously everyone here at the Empire State Building showing their support."

The last time they played, the Patriots beat the Jets 45-3.

Rehab Update

5 weeks out from surgery and I'm looking for good news from the doctor on Monday. Can't wait to get off the crutches! Here's a quick look at a little rehab in the hydroworx and my awesome scooter!


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ESPN: Leonhard on Manning mind games

Jets' Leonhard contributes, even off the field
Jets Blog

By MARK HALE


Last Updated: 8:35 AM, January 7, 2011
Posted: 1:40 AM, January 7, 2011

Jim Leonhard is used to being in the thick of the action on the Jets' defense, so his view of tomorrow's wild-card playoff game at Indianapolis will be particularly vexing: He'll have to watch on TV.

"It's terrible," said the safety, who has not played since breaking his right leg in a practice collision on Dec. 3, three days before the Jets' game at New England. "On TV, you can only see so much, especially being a defensive back -- 90 percent of what they do, you can't see it," he said. "It's miserable watching games on TV. But it's part of the deal. It's part of what it is right now."

In the locker room yesterday, Leonhard was using a cart -- sporting a license plate with "Jim 36" and "Wisconsin" (his alma mater) on it -- and hopped around his locker. He should be back for next season, but he can't be on the sidelines for games yet so he won't be heading to Indianapolis.

COMPLETE JETS COVERAGE

Leonhard was one of the key contributors to last year's Jets postseason run, so the fact he has not been able to get on the field since the last week in November is crushing.

"I've been around in the NFL long enough to realize that December, January and beyond is when you want to be playing football," Leonhard said, "and that's when you want to be helping your football team, and to not have that opportunity, it hurts.

"It definitely hurts a lot."

The fan favorite who was essentially the secondary's quarterback, was placed on injured reserve after breaking his leg and won't be part of the Jets' playoff run -- for however long it lasts.

And last year, thanks to Leonhard, the run lasted pretty long. In the wild-card win over the Bengals, he had a sack and a forced fumble. In the divisional victory against the Chargers, he picked off Philip Rivers and made six tackles.

Nevertheless, Leonhard remains useful. He watches tape and speaks to the safeties and defensive coaches, dispensing details that might benefit his crew.

"I love these guys," he said. "This is my team."

"He comes by every now and then and talks to us," safety Brodney Pool said. "This week especially."

Leonhard is pain-free, has been strengthening his leg and is preparing for an important doctor's appointment Monday when he'll have a five-week evaluation and -- hopefully -- loose his crutches.

"It's starting to come along," he said. "These guys definitely need to keep winning because time flies during the season and I've kind of got a feeling that it's going to slow down significantly once we're done playing.

"[I'll] appreciate some wins out of these guys."