Before Buffalo Bills training camp even started, GM Buddy Nix was telling reporters that he was uncomfortable with the team's depth at safety, and that his personnel staff would be scouring available options to add a fourth viable player to the mix. It may be no coincidence, then, that veteran safety Jim Leonhard was spotted at St. John Fisher today.
Leonhard, who will turn 30 this October, is an eighth-year pro that broke into the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Bills way back in 2005. (Yes, Tom Donahoe and Mike Mularkey were still here.) He spent three years in Buffalo before joining Rex Ryan and the Baltimore Ravens for a season; Leonhard then follows Ryan to the New York Jets, where the two have been together since 2008.
Despite Leonhard's heady play and solid level of productivity playing for Ryan (he record 198 tackles, 3.5 sacks, four interceptions, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a touchdown), the Jets decided not to bring Leonhard back this year - even though they were weak at safety - after Leonhard tore his patella tendon in Week 14 last season.
Leonhard declared himself healthy enough to begin working out for NFL clubs a little over two weeks ago, and it's very fair to speculate that he's doing (or done) exactly that for the Bills. It's important to note, however, that Terrence McGee is currently recovering from the same injury, which he suffered three weeks prior to Leonhard last year. McGee is only now getting worked back into full-team drills at camp, and Leonhard - who does not know the terminology of Dave Wannstedt's defense - may be three weeks behind McGee in terms of his recuperation.
Still, as a potential fourth safety whose role would simply be a veteran presence and special teams, Leonhard would seem to fit the bill, provided he's healthy enough to play at the outset of the regular season. Time will tell if he has, indeed, worked out with Buffalo, and whether he was impressive enough to bring into the fold if that is the case. For now, however, Mark Gaughan of The Buffalo News reports that Leonhard has not yet taken a physical, but will continue to visit with Bills officials into Friday.