The Buffalo Bills are rolling six deep at safety. Veteran Jim Leonhard was signed by the team Monday, reuniting with the team that gave him his start in the NFL.
Leonhard should come in much further along than a normal player signing six days before the season opener. That’s because he has plenty of experience playing on a defense run by coordinator Mike Pettine.
After beginning his NFL career with the Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2005, Leonhard signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. He spent one year there, then followed Pettine and coach Rex Ryan to the New York Jets in 2009. Leonhard spent three years in New York, and along with his season with the Ravens, that four-year stretch marks the most productive of his career. During that time, Leonhard started 53 of 56 games, made 254 tackles, four interceptions, 3.5 sacks and 21 passes defensed.
“Yeah, that’s a bonus,” coach Doug Marrone said of Leonhard’s experience with Pettine. “He’s played well.”
Leonhard made a free-agent visit to the Bills prior to the 2012 season, but ultimately signed a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos, starting one game. Leonhard was in training camp with the New Orleans Saints, but was one of the team’s final cuts.
Leonhard, who is entering his ninth NFL season, becomes the Bills’ most experienced player. He joins Jairus Byrd, Aaron Williams, Da’Norris Searcy, Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks at safety on the Bills’ 53-man roster.
Right tackle Erik Pears and defensive lineman Alex Carrington sat out practice Monday. Marrone said both players were dealing with minor ankle injuries but should be fine for the game against New England.
Also missing practice were cornerback Stephon Gilmore (wrist) and guard Doug Legursky (knee), both of whom will not play against New England.
Running back Fred Jackson, center Eric Wood and defensive tackle Kyle Williams have been voted by their teammates as captains for the 2013 season. Williams, 30, and Jackson, 32, are third-time captains, while Wood, 27, is a first-time captain.
The three players will have a “C” affixed to their uniforms. According to the Bills, their responsibilities will include assisting in the on-field communication with the game officials.
The Bills filled out their eight-player practice squad Monday with the signings of cornerback Johnny Adams, offensive tackle Edawn Coughman and running back Ronnie Wingo.
Adams, 24, signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent following this year’s NFL Draft. He spent time with both the Texans and Indianapolis Colts in training camp before being released Aug. 26.
The 5-foot-11, 177-pounder started 39 of 54 career games in college at Michigan State, making 157 tackles, 35 passes defensed and 11 interceptions.
Coughman, 25, came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Seattle Seahawks in 2012.
He spent a portion of last season on their practice squad, then signed in May with the Dallas Cowboys. He was released over the weekend. Coughman, a 6-4, 313-pounder, played 11 nine games with the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League in 2011 after playing at Shaw University (N.C.).
Wingo was an undrafted free agent signing of the Atlanta Falcons after this year’s draft. He was part of the team’s final cuts over the weekend.
The 22-year-old, 6-3, 231-pounder played at Arkansas, gaining 1,089 yards on 206 carries with eight touchdowns in 49 games.