Jets safety Leonhard's status vs. Pats unknown after thumb surgery

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets safety Jim Leonhard had three pins inserted into his broken right thumb and his arm is in a sling, leaving his status for Sunday's game against the New England Patriots uncertain.

Jets coach Rex Ryan said Leonhard had surgery Monday night and didn't practice Wednesday, but he wouldn't rule out the veteran safety.

"He's got three screws, I believe, so if they can tighten them up for this game, we'll see," Ryan said. "He's a tough kid, I'm just telling you. The average guy, there's no way he plays. But Jim Leonhard's not an average guy."

If Leonhard can't play Sunday, Eric Smith would start opposite Kerry Rhodes. Smith, who leads the team with 13 special-teams tackles, has started 10 games and has four interceptions in three-plus seasons with the Jets.

"It's a good opportunity to get out and play and get some more reps on the field," Smith said. "Hopefully we get Jim back, but if not, I'm going to be ready to play."


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Leonhard was injured during Maurice Jones-Drew's 33-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter of the Jets' 24-22 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Leonhard briefly left the game before returning with a cast on the hand, but he wasn't able to handle his usual punt-return duties.

Leonhard is third on the team with 58 tackles, and he has one interception and 1.5 sacks. He also makes the defensive calls, a duty that would fall to linebacker David Harris in Leonhard's absence.

"If there's any way possible of him playing, I wouldn't be shocked," Ryan said. "But right now with him in a sling or a cast or three screws in his thumb, it wouldn't look good for the common person."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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