"This week was a definitely a huge breakthrough," Leonhard said. "I felt I could push as hard as I wanted to and not have setbacks.
"I'm getting excited. I want to play football and prove I'm back; prove I've done the work to get back."
Leonhard, who made the secondary calls for the Jets last season, has worked hard rehabbing after surgery to place a rod in the leg to stabilize the right tibia fracture.
He said he has had no setbacks during his recovery and that X-rays in April revealed the break had fully healed. His road back began with work on an anti-gravity treadmill and strength exercises, then advanced to running on the ground. The last hurdle, which was cleared three weeks ago, was being allowed to resume all of the motions vital to playing in an NFL defensive backfield.
"Obviously you get back and meet with the trainers, but I would feel comfortable doing anything at this point," Leonhard said. "A lot of it has gone on feel because it's a bone, and it's hard to determine what the timeline would be. If there's a lot of soreness, you back off; if it feels good, you push hard. Now I feel like I can push it as hard as I want."
Helping Leonhard during his workouts and recovery in Madison, Wis., was his younger brother Tyler, who is literally following in Jim's footsteps by trying to walk on at the University of Wisconsin as a defensive back.