Jim Leonhard hurts knee, to get MRI

Updated: December 11, 2011, 8:57 PM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On Monday, New York Jets safety Jim Leonhard will have an MRI on his right knee. A source told ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini that the Jets believe Leonhard has a torn ligament.

"It's really tough, second year in a row," cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "He got hurt last year. It's a big loss for our defense and everybody knows that he's one of the captains of our defense, or one of our quarterbacks back there. It's big a loss for us again, we have to go through the same thing we did last year."

The Jets' 37-10 win over the Chiefs was perhaps the most complete game of the season for New York, but the mood in the locker room was muted. By the time the locker room opened, Leonhard was long gone, and defensive players asked about him said they hadn't seen him, and were concerned.

Last year, Leonhard undertook an arduous rehabilitation at the team's Florham Park facility, and even had a motorized cart with a license plate bearing his name. After this season, however, Leonhard will be an unrestricted free agent along with Bryan Thomas, the Jets linebacker who went out earlier this season with a torn Achilles.

Coach Rex Ryan, who brought Leonhard and linebacker Bart Scott with him from Baltimore, said after the game that he wasn't sure what the extent of the injury was.

"I don't have an update right now," Ryan said. "Hopefully it's not that bad, but again, I'm not sure. Jimmy did a great job returning punts, and then he makes a great play on the interception. Then he has an injury."

Leonhard was injured during the play with the interception. After getting the turnover, he was tackled, and one player said the safety's foot was in a Chief player's hand as he came down. Revis said during the game they heard on the sidelines that Leonhard could be out for the season.

"It's almost like last year repeating itself again," Revis said. "This is just a weird moment right now."

Immediately after Leonhard's injury last year, the Jets lost big to the Patriots, but rebounded and went all the way to the AFC Championship for the second straight year.

"You hate to lose Jim, but I don't want to speak about it because hopefully he's back next week," said safety Eric Smith.

Brodney Pool filled in for Leonard at safety, and rookie wide receiver Jeremy Kerley went back to returning punts, a starting job that he lost last week after a muffed return. Leonhard is more than just the sum of his parts when it comes to the roles he plays. He provides a crucial service when it comes to communicating information with the defense.

"He is a calming influence in the back end," linebacker Jamaal Westerman said. "If you can look back there he'll tell you where to line up. We really need him because with him we're so much better than without him."

Added linebacker Calvin Pace: "Hopefully it's not that bad. But if it is, some other guy's got to step up. That's the way our business is, you know?"

Also hurt in the game, Kansas City's Jon McGraw left a series earlier than Leonhard with a left ankle injury and didn't return.

Chiefs defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey limped off a few plays after Leonhard was hurt with an apparent right leg problem. But Dorsey returned to the game.

Jane McManus is a columnist and reporter for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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