What Jim Leonhard's Arrival Means to the Denver Broncos

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIAugust 22, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Jim Leonhard of the New York Jets poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Florham Park, New Jersey. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

Safety Jim Leonhard finally stepped onto the field for the Denver Broncos on Tuesday, and his arrival will have a serious impact on the team's defense.

While he's still recovering from knee surgery he underwent in December, Leonhard's hard-hitting style should rub off on the rest of Denver's defenders. 

Leonhard is undersized at 5'8" and 188 pounds and will likely serve as a backup to young safeties Quinton Carter and Rahim Moore initially, but he's also the kind of veteran leader who isn't against mentoring younger players.

The 29-year-old Wisconsin product spent the last three seasons as a starter with the New York Jets, where he was also considered a leader on the defense. Denver could use someone like him on a defense that was incredibly soft in 2011. Leonhard's tough, blue-collar style should have an impact on the rest of the roster. 

Leonhard became a fan-favorite in New York because of his physical play. He roams around the field without regard for his body, and that is sure to resonate with his new teammates and the fans in Denver. The Broncos don't currently have anyone like that on their roster.

Guys like Von Miller, Champ Bailey and the aforementioned Moore are phenomenal players, but they also have incredible physical gifts that helped them reach that level. Leonhard is the NFL's version of a self-made man who has worked for everything he has. 

It may take some time for Leonhard to be back at full-strength and roaming Denver's secondary with the same reckless style we are used to seeing, but eventually he'll get there. I'm not sure if he'll eventually supplant Carter and take a starting job, but it wouldn't surprise anyone. 

Leonhard still has a ways to go until he's ready to make an impact on the field in Denver, but his attitude and personality should help transform a soft defense into a solid unit.

And when he gets on the field, we should expect nothing short of the hard-hitting, playmaking style we've seen from him for years.