Welcome to the first edition of *Inside Answers, where we've taken questions from fans and brought them to a top performer in the Ravens' most-recent game. *
Here's safety Jim Leonhard's response to your queries about Sunday's 28-10 win over the Cleveland Browns and his tenure in Baltimore.
[Ed. note: Questions may have been edited for clarity.]
Brett Tinnes, Tioga, North Dakota:"What's up Jim? I was wondering what your favorite part of the game is. Is it laying a hit on a guy coming across the middle, coming on a blitz, returning a kick, returning a punt, etc.? Great game and I hope to see more of you in the season. Good Luck!
Jim Leonhard:"I think one of the biggest things for me is returning punts. Everyone's eyes are on you and following that ball. It's pretty exciting to know that there are 10 guys screaming down the field trying to take your head off. I think you have to almost be a little crazy to want to do that, but I really enjoy it and get quite a rush out of it."
Brendan Ayres, Towson, Maryland:"Hey Jimmy. I'm a huge Badgers and Ravens fan. My buddy who used to work for the Herald says you could dunk with the best of them on the basketball court. Have you seen anyone so far on the Ravens that could challenge you?"
JL:"Oh, there are a lot of guys. They have a basketball court at the facility, but I haven't seen anyone play a lot of basketball yet, though. I don't know if I'd win here. Back in college, I played a lot of basketball back then, so I was in basketball shape. There could be a lot of competition here."
Roman DiPasquale, Rockford, Illinois:"Mr. Leonard, I am currently a student at Wisconsin and a huge fan of the Ravens. First I'd like to say congratulations on a great game this week. My question is, do you still follow Badger athletics, and also what were some of your favorite things to do in Madison?"
JL:"Absolutely. I bought a place back in Madison, so I work out with a bunch of guys that I played with there in the offseason. I keep pretty close tabs on them and meet with the coaches when I can. I also try to check out a basketball game on campus here and there.
"I miss just walking around the city. The restaurants, shops, all of those things to do downtown. During the summer, they have concerts on the square by the Capital. It's just a fun town."
Tom Barnes, Glen Burnie, Maryland:"How did you deal with the psychological issues of getting into the game Sunday after [Dawan] Landry was carted off the field? Obviously, you did well, but did you ever think in the back of your mind that you're taking over for a guy that could have a serious injury?"
JL:"I'd be lying if I said you didn't think of it. You're hoping the best for them. It is part of the game we choose to play, an unfortunate part of it, but things like this happen. Obviously, the game is still going to go on, so you pray for your teammate and try to perform like they would have. It's always good when you hear positive things about the situation, and we got some good news at halftime. You never know how it can turn out."
Kyle Gainey, Cecil County, Maryland:"What's it like playing for a defense with such veteran leadership and poise and how does it help you younger guys in your development so that you could step in and be as good, if not better?
JL:"Personally, I think it's fun. You're not in a position where you have to be the guy and make all the plays. You just have to do your job and let the team concept work. The Hall of Famers that we have here have proven that they're some of the best in the game at what they do. To learn from them on a daily basis is great. I'm really enjoying going out every day with guys that love to play football and want to work hard."
Jimmy Lundquist, Baltimore, Maryland:"What have you learned from Ed Reed (if anything) that has changed the way you play the safety position?"
JL:"I've actually learned a lot from him, but a lot of it is the way he prepares and how he approaches the game. I always knew the physical abilities he had, but until you're around him every day, you don't really see the mental side he has. I'd love to say that I do a lot of similar things to him, but really, he's got that special ability that not many players have. He's one of the best in the league – if not the best – so it's hard to model your game after him. I try to pick up any little thing I can from him."
Ryan Guerndt, Baltimore, Maryland:"Coming to Baltimore from Buffalo, how difficult was it to learn a Rex Ryan defensive system?"
JL:"I didn't have too big of a problem with it. I took it as a challenge. I love being tested on the mental aspect of the game and trying to pick up something like that. It is definitely tough, but one of the things I love about this team is that everyone seems to have an understanding about the game. Rex is a great teacher, and the guys really take to that. It's a lot of fun when the people around you are knowledgeable about the game of football."
Chuck Reigle, Pasadena, Maryland:"How tough was it being informed last minute that you're going to return kicks, then having to play safety the whole second half. Do you prepare as if this may happen every week? Do you take it as it comes?
JL:"You definitely have to prepare like you're going to be the guy every week. Of course, there is the possibility some weeks when you have a better idea, like I did with Yamon [Figurs]. He was very close to playing Sunday, but I was still focused on returning just in case. Still, I have to get ready as if I'm the starter, as cliché as it is, because you're really only one play away. Guys get nicked up a lot and it's a long season, so the coaches are going to need you at some point.
"It is definitely a shift in thinking when you're in one mindset of what you're going to do for a game and it changes, but that's why we're professionals and at the level where we are."
*Check back after the Steelers Monday night game for the next time you can post questions to a featured player on *Inside Answers!