Leonhard back on his feet

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.


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
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.


“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!

ESPN: Leonhard on Manning mind games

Jets' Leonhard contributes, even off the field
Jets Blog


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.


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."