Jets' Leonhard contributes, even off the field
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.
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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."