Jets safety Leonhard set to have knee surgery Wednesday

NEW YORK -- Jim Leonhard hopes he has not played his last game with the Jets.

The injured safety told WFAN 660AM radio Tuesday that he will have surgery to repair the torn patellar tendon in his right knee on Wednesday morning and hopes to return to the team. He is a free agent after this year but has had season-ending injuries the past two years.

"I think that's where your mind goes right away: What's next?" Leonhard said in his first public comments since the injury. "I obviously don't have a contract after this year, and coming off back-to-back injuries like this, obviously, you're going to get that tag."

The 29-year-old Leonhard was placed on injured reserve Monday, a day after he was hurt after making an interception in New York's 37-10 win against Kansas City. He broke the same leg during practice almost exactly a year ago, missing the Jets' run to the AFC championship. Leonhard, who sounded surprisingly upbeat, thinks he was injured Sunday when he tried to "push off" after the interception, not when Chiefs wide receiver Steve Breaston grabbed his ankle to tackle him.

Coach Rex Ryan said Monday he hoped Leonhard, one of his personal favorites, could serve as a sort of player-coach as he did last season after his injury, and the safety wants to be around the team during its playoff push.

"You do whatever you can," Leonhard said. "Just helping out. It's kind of an eerie feeling because you realize how fast everything moves on. Everybody else's routine stays the same. You just want to be a part of it and do whatever you can."

Brodney Pool will step into Leonhard's starting spot opposite Eric Smith. Leonhard finished this season, his third with the Jets, with 60 tackles and an interception.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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