NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – LaDainian Tomlinson was a key player in the Jets’ run to the AFC Championship game last season. With a stable of young running backs in New York, the surefire Hall of Famer is ready to take a back seat.
“I don’t want to carry the ball as many times as I did last year. Hopefully that role goes to Shonn Greene and some of these younger guys,” said Tomlinson on Tuesday. “I’ve been the best running back in the league … Now, at end of my career, I’d love to be the best third-down back in the league.”
The running back is attending Mark Sanchez’s “Jets West” camp at Mission Viejo High School in Southern California. The camp gives Sanchez and offensive skill players such as Tomlinson, tight end Dustin Keller and wide receiver Braylon Edwards an opportunity to practice together during the lockout.
“I don’t care what your status is in the league and how big you may be, how many MVPs you have and all that kind of stuff, this is what you need to do to be successful,” Tomlinson said. “I want to show guys that, ‘Hey, I’ve done everything in this league you can possibly do, but that’s not going to stop me from coming out here with my teammates and working extra.’ I’m not afraid of that.”
Running back Joe McKnight, in competition with Greene and draft pick Bilal Powell, said “it’s very powerful” to see the veteran working out with the rest of Sanchez’s attendees.
“Everyone knows he’s going to the Hall of Fame, but he’s still out here working with us,” McKnight said. “(LaDainian) still has that will to win and will to come out here and work hard.”
McKnight and Tomlinson have differing viewpoints on the Jets’ selection of Powell.
“It creates competition,” said Tomlinson. “We all want competition. It brings out the best in us.”
“I was (mad) and motivated,” McKnight said. “It just adds fuel to the fire.”
Sanchez also ran the week-long camp last July, complete with custom T-shirts, at his former high school. Many players credited it for improving their on-field rapport.
“It’s just assuming command and understanding that I’m leading this entire group along with Rex,” said Sanchez. “When Rex can’t be with them, I’m the guy. I’m the coach on the field.”
He added: “It’s my job to coordinate things like this.”
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