Bills GM Buddy Nix said at the beginning of training camp that they were in the market for a fourth safety, preferably one with some measurable NFL experience. Nix stressed that his personnel department would be keeping a close eye on the waiver wire, but on Thursday after they hosted a veteran free agent safety in Jim Leonhard.
"We're still looking for a fourth safety," Nix told Buffalobills.com Thursday.
Leonhard watched Buffalo's Thursday afternoon practice from the sidelines wearing a compression sleeve on his right leg.
The 29-year old was not re-signed by the New York Jets, where the veteran safety was the quarterback of Rex Ryan's defense the past three years. The decision by Buffalo's division rival was due in part to the fact that Leonhard's last two seasons ended prematurely due to injury.
Two seasons ago Leonhard suffered a broken leg in practice and missed the last five games of the season. In 2011 Leonhard sustained a torn patellar tendon in the Jets' Week 14 game against Kansas City and missed the last three games of the year.
The injury is the same that Bills CB Terrence McGee is trying to come back from. Leonhard had surgery to repair the tendon two weeks after McGee last winter. The Bills presumably put Leonhard through a physical Thursday to get an accurate assessment of his surgically repaired right knee.
Last month Leonhard in an interview with a Wisconsin TV station (WEAU) insisted that he is recovered from surgery and ready to play football.
"I'm a free agent right now, hopefully in the next few weeks I get some workouts and get a contract," he said. "The knee is feeling great and I am ready to go. I am kind of getting antsy ready to get back on that field. You just keep working, you keep grinding and good things are going to happen.
"I know I am going to be playing football somewhere this season, I just have to figure out where. I am excited for that day."
That day could come with the team he began his NFL career with in 2005. Leonhard was an undrafted free agent signing of the Bills and appeared in 38 games for Buffalo from 2005-2007.
"We've got good depth at most positions," said Nix when Bills training camp opened last week. "The one place I'm a little concerned is our depth at safety. We've got three guys and we'd like to have four there that can play."
Leonhard has a proven track record in the league. The question seems to be whether he can be ready to play at the start of the 2012 season.