FOXBOROUGH, Mass.- As the Jets were wrapping up practice on the Friday before they faced off against the New England Patriots on Week 13, they had a freak injury to their defensive play caller and locker room leader, Jim Leonhard.
After colliding with Patrick Turner in practice, Leonhard broke his tibia and in the process would end up breaking the backs of the Jets before they even took the field at Gillette Stadium. Clearly, the loss of Leonhard was too much too soon as the Jets were never able to get their feet under them before falling behind 17-0 in the eventual 45-3 loss.
In an ironic twist of events, while Patrick Turner was the player involved in the injury to Leonhard, it will be Turner who will replace the injured Brad Smith (groin) as the Jets yet again face the Patriots in Gillette. This time, the game will decide who goes to the AFC Championship game to face the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Smith had injured his groin in last week’s 17-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. A versatile player for the Jets as a kick returner, receiver and wild cat option, the loss of Smith is a huge blow for the Jets. Smith has two kick returns for touchdowns this season.
Antonio Cromartie, who had the key 47-yard return at the end of the game that set-up Nick Folk’s game-winning field goal, is set to return kicks. Rookie fullback John Conner (non-injury related) is also inactive, probably due to utilize the return abilities of fellow rookie running back, Joe McKnight.
The other Jets inactives are as follows: QB Kellen Clemens, LB Vernon Gholston, DT Jarron Gilbert, TEs Matthew Mulligan and Jeff Cumberland, and DT Marcus Dixon.
The inactive players for the Patriots are WR Taylor Price, RB Fred Taylor, CB Tony Carter, RB Thomas Clayton, LB Marques Murrell, OL Rich Ohrnberger, T Mark LeVoir, and DL Myron Pryor.
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