Friday, August 3, 2012

Leonhard the answer for Bills' depth issues at safety

Photo: Marianne O'Leary, Flickr 

Defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt has been reconstructing the Bills' defense since his arrival this past offseason. And with ex-Buffalo safety Jim Leonhard back in town for a second day of meetings, he just may have found his final piece to put it all together.

Leonhard was on the sidelines of Buffalo's practice Thursday and will continue to meet with the team today, according to He will likely be checked out by team doctors today, as reports have stated he has yet to do so. As a Jet, Leonhard suffered a torn patellar tendon in his knee last season, the same injury the Bills saw corner Terrence McGee go through, though the seven-year vet has been adamant about his recovery.

“The knee is feeling great and I am ready to go,” Leonhard told a Wisconsin television station last month. “I am kind of getting antsy ready to get back on that field. You just keep working, you keep grinding and good things are going to happen.”

Lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball was a major concern for the Bills coming into this season, an issue that received a lot of attention on draft day and in free agency. General manager Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey have both expressed concerns with the depth at safety since the start of training camp, and Leonhard may just be the fit they're looking for.

“We’ve got good depth at most positions,” Nix told the media at the start of training camp. “The one place I’m a little concerned is our depth at safety. We’ve got three guys and we’d like to have four there that can play.”

Though Leonhard's health may be in question, his leadership on the field in indisputable. As a member of the Jets for the past three seasons, he was considered the "quarterback" of Rex Ryan's 3-4 squad. And though Buffalo is looking to linebacker Kelvin Sheppard to lead the defense this season, having the experience and knowledge of Leonhard in the backfield can only help. Buffalo has not ruled out a search for a safety through other channels, however.

“I know I am going to be playing football somewhere this season, I just have to figure out where. I am excited for that day,” Leonhard said.

Despite his injury, Leonhard tallied 148 tackles with the Jets the past three years, as well as three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 2.5 sacks.

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