Leonhard has worn No. 36 since the 2008 season. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
When veteran safety Jim Leonhard (5-8, 188 lbs.) arrived in Denver, his jersey number of choice—No. 36—was already taken. With no complaints, Leonhard went with No. 45 as an alternative.
A month after signing and three weeks after becoming healthy again, Leonhard survived roster cuts and is currently listed as the second free safety on Denver’s depth chart. Expected to contribute on special teams, Leonhard is just one play away from starting defensive duties.
If he is called up on defense (Leonhard is listed behind Rahim Moore on the depth chart), Jim will be ready with a secondary-esque jersey number.
“I am no longer wearing one of the best fullback numbers ever,” Leonhard joked on Sunday evening, “I will be wearing number 36 for the Orange Crush this season.”
No. 36 became available when the Broncos waived safety Rafael Bush last week. Bush has since landed with New Orleans.
Leonhard entered the league as a college free agent with the Buffalo Bills in 2005 and went on to spend time in Baltimore and most recently in New York, where he started in 40 games with the Jets. An eighth-year player, Leonhard played collegiate football at Wisconsin.
Leonhard returned from injury and got his first preseason action in Denver against the Cardinals last week. Recording one tackle and returning one punt for seventeen yards, Leonhard said, “It felt great,” to be back on the field again.
Whether it’s on defense or as a returner, Leonhard’s goal is to get back on the field during the regular season. If such an opportunity arises, Leonhard can attack it while wearing the jersey number he has become familiar with, 36.
This has been another installment of ‘What’s in a Number?’ Join us next week as we discuss whether or not Caleb Hanie should be permitted to wear The Snake’s No. 16 this season.