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  • Mon., Dec. 29, 2014 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM EST Inside the Jets

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Leonhard Still Helping Out Any Way He Can

Posted by Eric Allen on December 22, 2010 – 5:33 pm

Jim Leonhard might have been placed on injured reserve on Dec. 4, but the defensive signalcaller hasn’t been invisible here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.

“I’m starting to feel a lot better. It’s 2½ weeks after surgery as of today and I’m starting to turn that corner and take the next step,” said Leonhard, who fractured his right tibia in a Dec. 3 practice after colliding with WR Patrick Turner. “I have been able to do a lot of rehab, which is surprising. You get a broken bone like this, you never know how it’s going to go and it’s frustrating. But it’s been great to be around the guys, great to be around the building.”

Leonhard played 11 games for the Green & White in 2010, totaling 66 tackles, 1 INT, 6 PDs and 1 FR. But the six-year pro has participated in the last two AFC Championship Games and he lives for this time of year.

“It’s a crazy thing and the most frustrating thing for me is when it happened — December. You want to play in December, you want to play in January and close seasons,” he said this week on “Four Quarters.” “Not having that opportunity is the thing that hurts me the most.”

The Leonhard surgery went well and he began to lift with his upper body this week. And if rehab goes according to schedule, he should resume football activities in the spring.

“They said it’s probably a three-to-four-month process until I’ll be playing football again, but there will be a lot of ups and downs in the next few months,” he said. “I know that, I’m very aware of that. But I feel very fortunate to have the doctors we have, the training staff we have and the support system the Jets provide.”

In his traditional good spirits, a noticeably trimmer Leonhard also can find comfort in a former teammate’s comeback with the Seattle Seahawks this season.

“The one silver lining in this is Leon Washington had an injury [broken right fibula on Oct. 25, 2009] that was very similar and worse to this last year. I’ve been able to talk to him and our trainers and they’ve already gone through this process,” he said, “so they know exactly the steps that have to happen and kind of the landmarks I need to be hitting in my rehab.”

Serving as the ‘Hawks’ primary kickoff returner, Washington has averaged 27.0 yards and has taken three back for scores. Both players are considered emotional sparkplugs and the Jets looked flat in New England three days after the loss of Leonhard.

“I think it definitely affected them. I try to be an emotional leader,” said Leonhard after I suggested that his absence had a major impact on New York’s AFC representative. “I’m not the most vocal guy, but I’m a guy who plays with heart, a guy who plays with passion and tries to be a leader of the group. When you lose someone like that, it definitely hurts.

“It takes you a little time to adjust and to find that leadership in different places, and I think we’ve done that. On this team, we have great veteran leadership and it’s only a matter of time for another guy to step up and fill the void.”

The Jets have been very thin at safety in recent weeks. James Ihedigbo (ankle/knee) missed the Dolphins game and then Eric Smith (concussion) sat out last week’s key win over the Steelers. On Thanksgiving, the Jets started Leonhard and Smith at safety and then three games later they lined up with Dwight Lowery and Brodney Pool as the last line of defense.

“The freelancing and the freedom Rex and Coach [Mike] Pettine give you in this defense is generally based on how much you know and how much you understand everything else that is going on around you. I see myself as a player who is allowed to do that a lot more because I have a pretty good understanding of what’s going on,” Leonhard said.

“It definitely takes experience in this system and it takes more reps, which are hard to come by late in the season because you can’t practice as hard, you don’t have the training camp and different things like that. There probably is a little bit less [freelancing] going on than when I was in the game, but they always keep it interesting.”

If your football team isn’t banged up in late December, then you’re either in a two-hand-touch or flag league. It can sometimes be a war of attrition in the NFL and you are going to need contributions from some of the lesser-knowns.

“Our defensive staff finds ways to put players in a position to make plays and you see that on a week-to-week basis, a different guy stepping up,” said Leonhard. “You look at Marquice Cole. He breaks up the last two plays against Pittsburgh. He’s had a limited role on this defense up to this point and guys are going to step up. You have to. It’s a business where you have to step up or someone else is going to take your spot. It’s cutthroat, but that’s the business we live in and we enjoy it.”

A football junkie, Leonhard is trying to help his team in any way he can. He comes in to meet with coaches and players to talk Xs and Os and also to provide motivational talks when necessary. He is already eyeing 2011 while still helping the 2010 team attain its goals.

“I want to help this team. I love this team and I feel like we are going to do special things to close this season off and you want to be a part of that,” he said. “The hardest part when you’re injured is you’re kind of pushed to the side because you’re focused on winning football games and once you’re injured you can’t help that. I’m trying to get back in the mix a little bit.

“It’s tough at first because you miss it and you want to be out there on the field with your teammates and you can’t be there. Now I’m trying to get to that point where I’m trying to help out any way possible and we’ll see.”

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Posted in Eric Allen | 28 Comments »

28 Responses to “Leonhard Still Helping Out Any Way He Can”

  1. By kk on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    Alright fans time for EVERY ONE OF US to show out support for REX. These idiots whether in the media or the slime who look for things to bring this guy downaren’t worth the paper their garbage is written on. Obviously most of these guys are just unhappy people who do not want to see a decent honest person succeed. I for one have had enough of this garbage. REX I’m there with you 1,000% we need the players and the organization to do the same and support REX and just worry about football and the team. There are already a few writers I refuse to read dus to their tainted view of the Jets and I guess I’m going to add a few more to the list. For all of you loyal fans show your support on this site and let REX and the team know we have his back

  2. By scjoe on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    kk, it is a non story, the media are simply doing their job, it will not effect the outcome of this upcoming game with the Bears in any way what so ever, so yes, I think most loyal Jet fans do have his back. My main concern with Rex is how his team performs on the field, not his personal life. I think many fans of the fish and the pats will try and run with this story, but that is just a feeble attempt to cover up their own shortcomings.

  3. By LETSGO on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    rex. you are honestly the best coach (in my opinion) that we’ve ever had in ny. i got his back

  4. By scjoe on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    I stated right after the Leonard injury that the area he would be missed most, is in the communication in the back end, and on punt returns. I think we saw that initially, especially in the NE game, but I think it has steadily improved on both fronts since then and I believe it will continue to improve, at least back to where it was before, because I was really never a huge fan of the safety play this year to begin with. I like the way Coleman, Lowery, and Cole have stepped up though.

  5. By scjoe on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    Randy, aside form Leonard, how is the rehab process going so for Jenkins and Pitoitua? Do you have any positive news on either? Will they both be ready for training camp?

  6. By Randy Lange on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    scjoe, I have nothing official to report but both Kris Jenkins and Ropati Pitoitua have been rehabbing, they’re both around the locker room, and both appear to be doing well. We’ll get the official word to you as soon as we can.

  7. By Bo on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    Who cares what the media says!! Hey Rex, your fans love you, your team loves you, your wife loves you!! What else can a man ask for!! Bring the heat!!

  8. By Jets Fan Tom for a Long Time on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    I’m against Cimini-like vitriol and scandal-hunting, kk, and if that’s what’s going on in the New York press (I only see some articles on the Internet, living out here in SoCal), I’m against that, too. But Rex has made plenty of mistakes along with plenty good moves, so I’m watching and waiting on him while rooting for the team as always. Maybe his biggest and most unnecessary mistake has been turning most of the country, including the refs, against us. He seems to think he needs to do this to fire up the team, which is a very shallow, immature approach. And we’ll see how “man enough” he is in the off-season when he has to face either sticking with Schotty or bringing in his own OC.

  9. By dougmc on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    I can’t believe Cutler is still standing after all the hits he took early in the season. Bears should have lost opening day and many other games but they hung tough with a weak offense and seem to have grown into Martz’s O. If we can smack Cutler around and make it count with takeaways then we can handle these guys. Their LB’s and secondary are very banged up(except for Urlacher) and can be exploited if we clear out zones for crossing patterns. Steelers are better then this team so let’s clobber them and go marching into playoffs and not crawling.
    Let’s go Sanchize and Safetys…Let’s go Jets…

  10. By Andy on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    We SUPPORT you Rex!!!!!

  11. By Christopher on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    kk….agree 100% Rex, you have our full support. The media has turned into a bunch of trash gossip hounds and they should be the ones ashamed of themselves. Go Jets!!! Win and In.

  12. By BayShoreJohnny on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    Im with kk. Im tired of these slime diggin up dirt. Sure, I got my chuckle, but,
    The only questionable charachter is the one who saw it, recognized Rex, then, does the cowards-walk to
    the media.thats the loser. Let’s play (no pun intended) Football.

  13. By SallyMD on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    Miss you Leonhard! Go JETS!

  14. By tommy/j.co on Dec 22, 2010 | Reply

    ii’am with rex and the jets 100% never waivered NEVER WILL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i woulld love a list of writers to boycott!

  15. By Gerry on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    I have been a New York Jet fan for as long as I can remember. I see a great deal of Weeb Ewbank in Rex Ryan. They may not share the same personality or the same approach to coaching, but they both share a common passion for the sport of football and a strong loyalty to the franchise they work for. Rex may be a blowhard, a loudmouth and a goof ball, but he too is a major driving force to this team. They will do anything for him. Ryan has brought greatness and respect back to this team. Perfect he’s not, but who is.? Go Jets! All the way to the Superbowl!!

  16. By Harrison on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    Leonhard is the man, even if he’s not playing, he’s still like having an extra coach on defense. I’m just hoping the Jets can make another run at the super bowl, they showed up against. pitt

  17. By Jets Fan Tom for a Long Time on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    Sanchez has a slight shoulder tear, not great news for a guy who hasn’t been able to throw consistently well in perfect health but not surprising in the worst injury season for QBs in 20 yrs. Still, now we’ll see if the pro scout who told me in ’09 “Sanchez has an NFL body, Stafford doesn’t” was right. One thing’s for sure, if Sanchez can’t throw well sooner than later, either this yr or next, the “Super Bowl now” crowd is gonna be demanding a new QB ASAP. Things happen faster in the NFL now, as shown by talk that CAR will draft a QB this yr despite drafting 3 only last yr! And it’s true we gotta start getting the ball to DK, SH, BE, and J-Co, and fast. kk, I definitely have Rex’s back this foot nonsense, which is typical tabloid garbage.

  18. By Fish Hunters on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    The Pats will win the SB and the Jets will be an INTERNATIONAL JOKE!

  19. By Fish Hunters on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    Sorry KK, can’t support Rex. The Wallstreet Journal has the article to explain why. It’s call Kids and the Jets. Bottom line the team for the Kids plays on Sunday. The team for Adults only plays the other six days of the week. He’s been juvenile, he’s show incredibly poor judgement and he’s embarrased the team, the organization and the fan base. It’s time for an Adult to take over the team.

  20. By Fish Hunters on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    For a guy either trying to be an NFL head coach or as an NFL head coach how do you post stuff like that out there where someone WILL find it. What you do in your home is your business. When you post it on the net it’s everyones business. It’s going to be a while before I can pull my jaw up off the floor.

  21. By Ray on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    Just watched the replay of the game on NFL Network and I love those shows. They not only condense it, they show more angles of key plays and then add in the scenes from the sidelines and comments from the players and coaches…awesome. Two things I got from watching that, first, it appears Edwards convinced Rex to go for it on the 4th down when Sanchez scored on the bootleg. Rex sounded ready to settle for a FG and Edwards pushed him to go for it. Second, on the next to last play the ball went right between Spaeth’s hands. Maybe Lady Luck is turning our way…

  22. By IRA on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    Leonhard is one of my favorite players. And i do agree it did affect the team going into that Pats game. Hope he has a speedy recovery and get back 110%.
    I think Cole has turned into a good role player and now is getting more reps and is taking advantage of them. They will need him to step up his play just like everybody else from the secondary to secure a playoff spot [hope this week by a win] and to move forward into the playoffs. I saw how they played Lowery deep in pass coverage last week. he is going to get a pick for sure this week against Cutler.
    Hope Sanchez’s shoulder injury is just minor and he finishes the season strong. Would love to see them rap it up this week and he only has to play a series or two against the Bills.

  23. By IRA on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    That would be a good chance for them to get Brunnel and Kellen some work just in case they need them in the playoffs. Also i really want to see McKnight running the ball against the Bills. get the job done in Chicago first. Jets 23 – Bears 20
    GO JETS!!!!!

  24. By Pranit on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    Jimmy is a studdddd… !!!

  25. By Mike Jet Vet on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    You know what really makes me laugh, well Marv Albert comes to mind ..these guys should practice what they preach sad day in the world when these (Blanks) rather look for the dirt on someone then the better side the Charitable side of people darn shame.. Rex you know I got your back if you read these posts .How about us fans kick in see what dirty little secrets these bum are hiding in their private lives, lets see how they like it maybe they will get back to honest to goodness journalism straight up like the ..Randys Radar P.S. and no Randy i’m not kissin up just the way I see it

  26. By GaryC on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    another concern in this game is Folk’s kickoffs which have been very short and Manning is a very good kick returner, if jets have the bears starting on their own 40 yard line it could mean trouble, jets better score tds instead of field goals in that case.

  27. By Mike Jet Vet on Dec 23, 2010 | Reply

    Fisn Hunters.. take that garbage with you to Miami or Foxboro this is a man trying to school and take to a SB 53 some odd over grown kids with a second year QB him meaning Rex only in his second year many key injurys no pass rush patched up seconady lets not forget the amount of older players and few playing hurt, this is about so much more then coaching some football players try it someday lets see how you fair ..If Your not backing Rex who are you backing? GO REX-GO JETS -JETS -JETS

  28. By Clarke W. Griswald on Dec 24, 2010 | Reply

    May old acquaintance be forgot in the days of ol’ Rex Ryan.

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