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Leonhard Suffers Fractured Tibia–Out for Pats

Posted by Randy Lange on December 3, 2010 – 2:15 pm

Tough injury news for the Green & White has come out of today’s practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Safety and punt returner Jim Leonhard was carted off the outside grass field with what head coach Rex Ryan described at this afternoon’s news conference as “a severe shin injury.” 

(The injury was determined to be a fractured tibia in Leonhard’s right leg. See update below.)

Ryan said Leonhard will miss Monday night’s AFC East showdown at New England against the Patriots and doesn’t know yet how much longer Leonhard might miss. Thus Leonhard’s 58-game pro playing streak for the Jets, Ravens and Bills, including six playoff appearances, will come to an end and will remove a key player from the Jets’ defense and special teams as the Jets head down the regular-season home stretch toward the playoffs.

“It’s going to be tough to replace Jim,” said Ryan, who added he doesn’t know yet if Leonhard will be out for the rest of the season. “But we’re fortunate. We have a lot of talent. Next man who steps up, we expect him to stay at the same level, if not a higher level.

“Don’t feel sorry for us. We’re fine. Obviously this is a huge blow for our football team but we’re tough.”

“Anytime you lose a player, it rattles you,” said Ryan, who opened his news conference with news of the injury, which occurred as the result of a collision later in practice with wideout Patrick Turner. “It is a damper, no question about it. But the way this team is, we don’t want to let Jim down either, we don’t want to let the team down, our fans down, each other down.

“Trust me, they’re not feeling sorry for us. We have enough players. We’re going to find a way to get it done. That’s what I’m banking on. Do I think we’ll win the game? Absolutely.”

Ryan didn’t commit to replacements in the Jets’ lineup for Leonhard, but he said for his starting safeties “I think it’ll be Eric Smith and Brodney Pool.” Smith has started four games this season, including the Thanksgiving night game against the Bengals, while Pool has started seven games.

On punt returns, the coach said, “We’ve got Joe McKnight and Kyle Wilson. Jerricho Cotchery did it last year — if it’s windy up there, I know one thing, Jerricho will catch it. Guys like Santonio Holmes have done it in the past, and [Antonio] Cromartie. We have a lot of options there.”

Leonhard had started all 30 games, including season’s three playoff games, since he arrived as an unrestricted free agent from the Ravens last off-season. He even played through a broken finger suffered in last year’s Game 9 against Jacksonville, not missing a game. The last game he missed as a pro, in fact, was Game 7 of the 2007 season, when he was in Buffalo’s secondary and the Bills played the Jets.

With the Jets this season he again was handling the play calls for the secondary, and in the last game against the Bengals, he ended the defense’s five-game interception drought when he snapped up Carson Palmer’s deep ball intended for Terrell Owens in the second quarter, starting the Jets on a field goal drive for their first points of the game.

Update: 5:45 p.m.: Leonhard has a fractured tibia in his right leg. He was taken this afternoon to Morristown Memorial Hospital not far from the Jets’ training center. He will undergo surgery tonight, with Dr. Ken Montgomery, chairman of the Jets’ medical department, Dr. Andrew Willis and Dr. Pat Grob performing the operation.

Before the surgery, the team reported that the fracture did not break the skin and that Leonhard’s fibula is OK as are his knee and ankle.

The Jets will have an update on Leonhard’s status for the rest of the season after team officials have had a chance to meet with the doctors following the surgery.

Posted in Randy Lange | 40 Comments »

40 Responses to “Leonhard Suffers Fractured Tibia–Out for Pats”

  1. By Christopher on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Can Brad Smith come in at Safety? He should be able to handle punt returns too.

  2. By matt on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Very tough. Leonhard also had a history of good blitzing games vs. Brady. Pool has to step up and Smith should be up to calling coverages.

    If he’s out for a while, I’d like to see Lowery get time at safety. Use Ihedigbo to blitz.

  3. By paul o on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply


  4. By Rich on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Thank god we have Brad Smith for the punt returns. I am a big Kyle Wilson fan, but hopefully he can step up to the plate and show his moves from the college days.

  5. By Daniel Keiderling on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    This is a big loss
    I think that comment from Christopher is dump
    How can Brad Smith be a safety? He would need to learn all the plays and the communication would be bad.
    Who do you think knows the defense the best to call it because any weakness I think Brady will exploit. I also think that Eric Smith might be good as long as he does not make big mistake also who do you think would be better Lowery or Wilson for the job.
    This is just a big lose I just can’t get over this, now I need some encouraging news!!!!!

  6. By jetsfanatic247 on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    this is bad news bears, although i feell ike smith is a bigger guy who can cover somewhat better on pass plays then leonard. Leonard will be missed, but this could def be used as a rallying point for us moving forward. Earth to Kyle Wilson, you need to have your best game of the year monday night!

  7. By IRA on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Very big loss. Just want to wish Jim well and a speedy recovery. He is the heart of that D.

  8. By paul o on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply


  9. By scjoe on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Please, no McKnight OR Wilson on punt returns! Cromartie or Holmes, maybe even Brad Smith sounds like a much better option. I think not having Leonard will hurt in the communication area more then any other. The Pats will try to create mismatches against the safety’s I think that is a given, communication back there is going to be critical. Not many of the “experts” are given the Jets much of a chance, so, this one is for them!

  10. By oh well on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    ohhh…poor rexy. TB’s gonna rip your secondary apart…

  11. By Trevor on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Ihedigbo needs to step up Mon Night. Hes good at blitzing and pressuring the QB, but he will need to step up in the coverage game. I believe hell get the job done along with pool. :)
    Get better soon Jim!!

  12. By Craig Bond on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    ” these things happen in football ” ….. oh so true, it’s just one of those unfortunate things that happens, but i have confidence in our secondary and i know they will step up and not miss a beat, it’s not like Smith and Pool have been riding the bench all season long and are rusty… they have both had a lot of game time and will step up and do a good job!

  13. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Terrible, terrible news. Despite his troubles with the bigger receivers that some of us have mentioned, Leonhard plays so many roles for us so well that to lose him at this time of year is WAY worse than tough. Still, we’ve been relatively fortunate with injuries this year, certainly compared to GB, MIN, MIA, OAK, and even NE. So the guys we got will just have to step up including the punt return guys, though you could hardly ask J-Co to do better at that than he did when he was pressed into service last year, and right after an injury, too. If Leonhard’s out for the year, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see us pick up another DB to help out.

  14. By kenny on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply rockin #36 4u n hope 4 a speedy recovery..REX i kno jim will be miss you scott n jim came togeter last year i new u were rite 4 the job.lets go jets. n hope he will be a jet 4life as a jet fan born a jet 36yrs means lot 2me n go from #25years on the Rhodes with no home to go new york 4u..and now to say a new home new team now you guys are best and what makes me be proud a jetfan 4life this is our year lets G0..So REX i got my #36 4u Jim..G.W.S.i like the way he plays D..So guys play like a JET 4 JIM..

  15. By Tom Spicer on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Jim out for the year broken tibia

  16. By Courtney C on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    omg. no flippin way. in practice? come on! omg i cannot believe this i was hoping it wouldnt be this bad and bam. omg omg omg. he was the best safety this jets team has seen in a long time and omg i cannot believe this at all. dont rush the healing process, let him heal right.

  17. By Gmany3k on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Brad Smith should play safety some plays to cover the TE ‘s. but not a full game.

  18. By Phill1c on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    for all the “leonard is god” talk, the guy had ONE int. and he wasn’t hitting like Ronnie Lott either (which would be fined in today’s nfl). lol

    i think the jets will be able to line up ‘right’ without him. we need some dudes to step up: Wilson, in particular, but Pool as well.

    the jets are STILL gonna get it done.

  19. By davetharave on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    I thought they took it easy in practice, especially this late in the year . . fortunately we have a lot of guys ready to step in. If McKnight’s on the roster he should be utilized . . he is fresh (LOL) and could break a punt return. Bad news at worst possible time. Everyone else has to pitch in and be 100 %.

  20. By GaryC on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Look, if kyle wilson progressed as much as mccourty had with new england the jets could have moved cromartie to free safety and eric smith to strong, with wilson the starting corner and drew coleman and lowery as the slot guys.too bad this seems to be a lost year for wilson, progression wise, hope it gets better down the road.

  21. By mikeyram on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    Relax everybody J-Cotch is a fine punt returner, as sure handed as they come. He did most of the punt returning before Leonhard came to the Jets. Kyle Wilson is going to be a good one. Cut him some slack. He returned 4 punts for TD’s in college. I have a gut feeling he will bring one back for a long gain or TD Monday night. Jets win 23-17.

  22. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    GaryC, McCourty has 5 ints, yeah, but that dude gets beat all the time, and often by mediocre receivers. I’m not ready to say we shoulda picked him instead of Wilson quite yet.

  23. By IRA on Dec 3, 2010 | Reply

    J-Co will be fine as the PR. He did it last year when Jim broke his hand and J-Co avg 10 yds per return one less than Jim. That is not the problem. Its the communication and leadership that Jim gave. Somebody is going to have to step up. Wonder if T. Carter or N. Ferguson are in shape? Also S. Rolle knows rex’s system wonder whats happening with him? They are going to bring in somebody for sure.

  24. By June on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    I love Jim he is a heady player but believe it or not this will help the Jets get more speed on the field…we are going down the wire now and good QB’s like Brady and Manning take advantage of slow players.Jets will crush the pats on Monday Night and it will be with their best running performance of the year..

  25. By Mike Jet Vet on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    I am a J-L fan hes the QB for our secondary GL my man heal fast heal strong that said what happened to all the complainers Leonhard can’t cover not tall enough not fast enough ..Fortunately we have Lowery E-Smith Coleman Diggs wilson one or a combination of will step right in..I hate to see anyone go down especially someone like J-M but this may be a blessing in disguise .. Rex would never take J-W spot from him thats his guy but this gives us and him a chance to see who’s going to succeed him .. Smith and wilson will handle the returns ..J-CO is coming off a Hammy are you guys out of your minds ??GO JETS

  26. By Mike Jet Vet on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    CONT. collision with Turner means one thing they’re priming Turner for the Parties S-H B-E Turner Keller L-T and Green hello 10-2 unless Sanchez and company Implode please no stupid penalties INT’s or fumbles.. Rex put these Officials on notice before the game all the world will be watching them no bias calls GO JETS

  27. By Ray on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    Excellent point on McCourty, ’64 Tom. Everyone sees ints. and thinks that is the litmus test for how good they are. He got worked by Edwards in game 1 and has been burned as many times as he has made plays.
    This injury couldn’t have happened at a worse time. But let’s see if someone can step up and do the job. If the D can stop the Pats a few times, we can score on these guys. If we have the lead late we can run the ball down their throats.

  28. By Ray on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    Just a reminder about the kickers in this game. The Pats don’t have Gostkowski anymore. Their kicker is a guy named Graham…sound familiar? He’s the one who missed TWO fgs for Cincy against us in the playoffs last year. I don’t think EITHER team wants this game to come down to a kick….

  29. By PurpleFlash on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    Yeah losing Leonhard is a big loss, but lets not forget, this is the 2nd year of this system, and don’t think that nobody else has been prepped to fill in for him if this happened. Somebody else has been learning how to call the coverages too. HE Jets will be able to overcome this. That is the way they have been building this team. Depth. And guys to step up.

  30. By Hans on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    If we get Dwight Lowery back, I think we are set. Patriots fans talking a lot of crap. Funny because they mention the Green Bay game that they forget that they lost to a team with a worse record. We didn’t make any excuses (well, I didn’t), but they had five MILLION of them. Can’t wait to see how this unfolds. I would love to just see the smirks wiped off their smug faces.

  31. By nyjetsholdupsbtrophyin2010 on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    Tragic way to end your season ,speedy recovery Jim,

    Now some of you are making way to big a deal of this , the main thing we lose here is he was the communicator to the other DB’s while in game ,as far a coverage he was a liability ,he’s a great tackler but so is E.Smith .Digs ,and still waiting on a Pool arrival should def.see one now , his Punt return ability will be missed but J-Co can handle it just as good if not better,
    hate to see one of ours go down to friendly fire,going down the stretch run ,but everyteam has to endure these
    types of blows,we’ll be allright

  32. By Pranit on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    really really bad timing….and jimmy is the one who makes all the tackles (besides Harris)….

  33. By charliejet on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    Jimmy must be very frustrating for you…wouldn’t be here(9-2) without you.

  34. By GaryC on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    to jet fan tom and ray, if mccourty is getting beat all the time why is he still in starting lineup for a 9-2 team,he must be doing something right, but I agree, wilson needs time but even you two have to agree who has progressed more, interceptions not withstanding.

  35. By jetsfan on Dec 4, 2010 | Reply

    Hey the good news is that maybe now we’ll get a punt return or two instead of his typical constant fair catches.

  36. By Mike Jet Vet on Dec 5, 2010 | Reply

    Best wishes to you and your family J-L hurry back.. Tom64 and Ray I have to say you 2 puzzle me .Ray Excellent point on Mccourty? .Wilson to this point can’t shine his shoes at this juncture in both their short careers only excellent point is that about them anyway .. Unless you may want to make another excellent point on how we made a better move taking V-G 6th just ahead of J-Mayo 7th Patties made better choices on both sorry guys I do like your presentation though GO JETS

  37. By Ray on Dec 5, 2010 | Reply

    GaryC, McCourty is in the lineup because they don’t have anyone better, but we do so Wilson sits, plain and simple. McCourty makes plays but I have watched the Pats quite a bit this year and he gets burned just as much. Wilson must be progressing since his playing time is going back up again. No one is saying he stinks, but I wouldn’t vote for him as DROY.

  38. By Ray on Dec 5, 2010 | Reply

    Ex in what part of my post did I compare Wilson and McCourty? The point is that McCourty is FAR from a stud and yeah he has five picks and he has easily been burned just as many times. THAT was an excellent point, by ’64 Tom. I won’t compare those two for several years, different players develop at different rates in different systems. Why are you bringing some irrelevant point about VG and Mayo into the equation?

  39. By Jets Fan Since '64 Tom on Dec 6, 2010 | Reply

    Great response to GaryC, Ray, and I’ll add to it. Gary C and MJV, the Pats don’t have the worst pass D and one of the worst overall D’s in the league for nothing, I’ve watched McCourty and Chung get torched all year. Even young players who are coming along well get beat, but you can make a much better case for, say, Slauson and Pouncey at this point than you can McCourty, INTs or not. And as Ray says, Wilson has barely played and, need I remind you, has had to learn several positions because of the Revis holdout. So while I’ll admit McCourty’s progressing better than Wilson so far, the jury is out for me on who’ll be better — but then, I’m not in the rush-to-judgment/cut McKnight/bench Slauson/Holmes is the problem crowd and never will be.

  40. By Jim Tomahawk, WI on Dec 7, 2010 | Reply

    Let’s get off this fair catch thing. There are only 4 things that can occur on a punt. #1 Fair catch the ball, and I mean catch it. #2 Fair catch the ball and then fumble. #3 catch the ball and run for good yardage,if there isn’t a block in the back or holding call. #4 catch the ball and lose yardage and still may face a block in the back or a holding call. GO JETTS!!!!!!!!!!!

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