Florham Park, NJ – The Jets will be without safety Jim Leonhard for Monday night’s divisional game against the New England Patriots following an injury to the shin when he collided with wide receiver Patrick Turner during practice on Friday afternoon. The Jets safety was eventually carted off the field.
“He’s got a shin injury that is severe, I don’t know the extent of the injury right now,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said. “But he’s, you know, obviously will be out this week, so that’s a huge blow for us.”
Ryan was hesitant to call it a break, merely repeatedly referring to it as an “injury” and said he will know more after the team runs X-Rays on Leonhard. The injury, according to Ryan, could have happened during the collision or when Leonhard landed after the two players hit each other. Ryan said that the injury comes after a Friday practiced he considered up to that point to be “the best of the year.”
"Don't feel sorry for us, we'll be fine. Emotionally, it's a letdown," Ryan said during his Friday press conference.
The timing of the injury couldn’t be worse as the two teams, both with identical 9-2 records, meet in Foxboro on Monday night. The Patriots boast one of the most proficient passing games in the league and a Jets secondary that already was in for a potentially long night suffered a serious setback with the injury to Leonhard.
In place of Leonhard, Ryan indicated that the team will be playing with safeties Brodney Pool and Eric Smith. As part of the secondary rotation, Smith started last week against Cincinnati and Monday night will be his fifth start of the season.
"We'll probably lean more on Eric Smith...he's probably the smartest guy I know,” Ryan said.
The play that resulted in the injury appears to have been just a freak occurrence. Turner was running a vertical route when second-string quarterback Mark Brunell delivered a ball that was on-spot. Leonhard jumped to make the play and the two collided. Both players went down, Turner recalls.
“It was just two guys going for the ball and running into each other,” Turner said. “It wasn’t the hardest of collisions.”
A team source tells GreenAndWhiteReport.com that the play was routine and that it wasn’t a poorly thrown ball by Brunell. He did, however, note that the impact was loud.
"You could hear the 'the thud' from the sidelines,” the source said.
Kristian R. Dyer can be reached for comment at KristianRDyer@yahoo.com and followed at twitter.com/kdyer1012