NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — LaDainian Tomlinson is feeling better than he usually does at this point in the season. And that’s even coming off a sprained left knee.
A reduced role and the injury that sidelined the Jets running back the last two games has the 32-year-old Tomlinson feeling young again.
“That was pretty much the game plan for the year, to keep me fresh and down the stretch, possibly increase my workload,” Tomlinson said Thursday. “So I’m fresh and feeling good, so the coaches have that option, if they want to use me more.”
“I mentioned that to him,” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. “I said, ‘This is going to be interesting for you.’ When I saw him in practice I was like, ‘Wow.’ I mean, he looked fresh as can be. That could be interesting getting a fresh LT for the last part of the season. I think it would be great for us.”
Tomlinson has been used to carrying the load for much of his record-breaking career, particularly during nine record-breaking seasons in San Diego. He had more than 300 carries in each of his first seven seasons and put up incredible statistics that have him ranked among the NFL’s greatest running backs.
Still, it was a hefty workload that even his former coach, Marty Schottenheimer, acknowledged last week while visiting the Jets and son Brian, the team’s offensive coordinator, might have been a bit excessive.
“He said to me while I was in the training room, he said, ‘I’m sorry, kid. I just wore you out when you were young,'” Tomlinson said, laughing. “I said, ‘Hey, coach, I took it and I’m glad you gave me the ball.'”
Tomlinson stepped aside as the lead running back this season in favor of Shonn Greene, and was having a decent season as the Jets’ primary third-down back until spraining the medial collateral ligament in his knee against New England on Nov. 13.
The sixth-leading rusher in NFL history is still fourth on the team with 25 catches for 312 yards and a score, and has 167 yards rushing on 46 carries. Greene is dealing with sore ribs, so Tomlinson could see more action Sunday — and the rest of the season.
“Obviously, one of the things that everybody’s always said about LT, although I thought he did a nice job late last year as well is, ‘Does he wear down?'” Brian Schottenheimer said. “I think that there are benefits to having been out the two games. Obviously, he looks good. We have to get him the ball, we have to get him involved.”
Sounds good to Tomlinson, who says it’s clear to him at practice that he’s got plenty left even so late in the season.
“Everybody else is running slow and I’m still running fast,” Tomlinson said with a big smile. “No, quite honestly, it’s more how your body feels Wednesdays and Thursdays, sometimes you’re still sore. This year, I don’t have anything going on other than I hurt my knee. But other than that, I’ve felt fresh.”
How much of an impact will a “fresh” LT have on the Jets? Sound off below…
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