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Denver Broncos: How Will Newly Signed Jim Leonhard Fit into Team's Plans?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 25:  Jim Leonhard #36 of the New York Jets runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals at New Meadowlands Stadium on November 25, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Jets defeated the Bengal 26-10.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Travis WakemanCorrespondent IIAugust 4, 2012

The Broncos have signed free-agent safety Jim Leonhard to add depth to the secondary.

In seven NFL seasons, Leonhard has made 326 tackles and has six career interceptions. But it's the kind of things that don't show up in the box score that Leonhard is best at, almost like a defensive version of Steve Tasker. Leonhard has the intangibles to make game-changing plays, even in a limited role.

Leonhard will compete for playing time at safety with Quinton Carter, Rahim Moore, Mike Adams and Duke Ihenacho.

But the return game and playing on special teams is where Leonhard will likely be most effective.

The Broncos have experimented with several different return men in training camp, from Tracy Porter to Matt Willis to Syd'Quan Thompson, looking for someone to replace Eddie Royal, who bolted for San Diego via free agency.

In his career, Leonhard has been solid as a punt returner, averaging 10 yards per return on 82 returns, and 10 of those returns have gone for more than 20 yards.

Anything the Broncos can do to improve field position each game and give quarterback Peyton Manning shorter fields to work with will only be a good thing and thus, the signing of Leonhard is a good one.

"It's never a bad day to sign an NFL contract. I'm proud to be a Denver Bronco. Time for work," Leonhard tweeted on Saturday evening.

Leonhard does bring some injury concerns with him, which is probably the reason he's been available as a free agent as long as he has. He fractured his tibia in 2010 and ended his season in December of last year due to undergoing major knee surgery.

Aside from the signing of Manning, this is arguably one of the best moves the Broncos have made this offseason, and Bronco fans should be excited to see Leonhard in blue and orange.

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