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Leonhard Brings Toughness and Versatility


Jim Leonhard, whose signing by the Jets as an unrestricted free agent was announced this afternoon, is quite an interesting guy. Three things stand out about him right now as I put together a Radar entry in advance of talking with the former Ravens and Bills safety Wednesday morning.

One is his size. Leonhard is 5'8" and 185 pounds. This is probably not that noteworthy, since we all know about the size of the dog in the fight and the size of the fight in the dog. Bob Sanders, the Colts' Pro Bowl safety, is also 5'8". So is RB Leon Washington. 'Nuff said.

In conjunction with that, though, it does seem worth noting that the defensive system of head coach Rex Ryan and coordinator Mike Pettine, while not exclusively catering to fearless guys who were underrated at some point in their football careers, leaves the doors wide open for that kind of player to wander in and show what he's got.

Scott, signed Friday night, wasn't heavily recruited out of high school and was an undrafted free agent in the NFL. Leonhard, Scott's former and now current teammate, played his college football (and initially basketball) at Wisconsin, but he, too, was an undrafted — and even once-waived — free agent of the Bills. Both were plenty tough, violent and fearless enough to start and excel for last year's Ravens.

But now Leonhard has exchanged purple and gold for green and white.

"I am extremely excited to become a New York Jet," Leonard said in a statement released by the team late today. "Obviously, to be reunited with Coach Ryan and Coach Pettine on the defensive side of the ball is a great opportunity. I am really excited to get in there this first year with Coach Ryan and, hopefully, help do some great things."

And that segues neatly toward the third thing that interests me about Leonhard: his versatility, a point that I'll demonstrate in the form of a Jeopardy A&Q (a method that will be right up Lito Sheppard's alley): 

*Answer: The only NFL player in the last two seasons to have at least one interception, one sack, one punt return, one kickoff return and one touchdown in the same season*

*Question: Who is Jim Leonhard?*

This distinction, which Leonhard achieved for the '08 Ravens, is shared by a few others, most of whose names you know, in the past five seasons. Here are the nine who've turned the trick in the regular season since 2004:

 Year Player, Team   INTs   Sacks   PRs     KRs     TDs  
 2004 Nate Clements, BUF 6 0.5 35 1 2
 2004 Deltha O'Neal, CIN 4 1 7 1 1
 2004 Allen Rossum, ATL 2 1 37 58 1
 2005 Darrent Williams, DEN 2 1 17 18 1
 2006 Adam Jones, TEN 4 1 34 20 4
 2006 Richard Marshall, CAR 3 1 2 14 1
 2006 R.W. McQuarters, NYG 2 1 4 1 1
 2006 Charles Woodson, GB 8 1 41 1 1
 2008 Jim Leonhard, BAL 1 1 20 8 1

Eric Allen and I will be sure to ask Jim Leonhard about that, plus his slam-dunk prowess in hoops and a few other areas of importance when we chat with him on "Jets Two-Minute Drive" on Wednesday. Check our site to find the radio show on our multimedia home page.

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