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Muscle Sport Magazine

Shonn Greene to Lead the Jets, Even With LaDanian Tomlinson on Board

It isn’t too often that a second-year player starts ahead of a future Hall-of -Famer, but that will be the case on the 2010 New York Jets. LaDanian Tomlinson brings with him from San Diego the type of credentials any team would long for and it was not that long ago that he was considered the top running back in the league.

Injuries and the salary cap sealed LT’s fate out west and he now finds himself on the opposite coast looking to extend a career that started coming off the rails last season. He was being wooed by the Minnesota Vikings as well as the Jets but ultimately decided on Gang Green. “I think the major decision that it came down to was having to learn a new offense versus playing in an offense that I already know and (playing for) someone I already know in (Jets offensive coordinator) Brian Schottenheimer,” Tomlinson said in a conference call.

A similar situation existed with the Jets that happened with the Chargers. Thomas Jones led the team in rushing and had over 1,400 yards, but was released because he was due a large bonus and became a salary cap casualty. The 10-year vet also had 14 touchdowns and averaged over four yards per carry. He went on to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jets were in the market for a veteran to mentor Shonn Greene, who became the feature back in the playoffs and was very effective in that role.

Enter Tomlinson, who will inherit the privilege of working behind arguably the most effective offense line in the NFL for a team committed to pounding the ball. “I’ll just say, this is my type of football,” he said. “I’ve always had an aggressive style and taken pride in running the football and wearing people down.” 2009 was the first time that Tomlinson failed to rush for over 1,000 yards in nine NFL campaigns. His best year came in 2006, when LT ran for 1,815 yards and 28 touchdowns and was named the Associated Press NFL MVP.

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General manager Mike Tannenbaum had to make the tough decision to cut Jones, a favorite in the locker room. “We feel like (he) did a great job for us the last three years,” he said. “He did a lot of things obviously on the field as well as off, but when we looked at all the factors and what we thought was in the best interests of our team, taking all factors into account, we’re really excited about LaDanian.”

Now the Jets have a deep backfield that not only includes Greene and LT, but also Leon Washington, who will be coming back from a gruesome broken leg injury and is an effective change-of-pace back. The bulk of the carries will initially go to Green, but Tomlinson is one heck of a fall back option. Being the veteran in this mix, LT is coming into the situation with an open mind about his role, one which he is going to welcome.

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“People are going to look at the old tapes and see what he did on the field, but the greatest thing you can have in this league is a legacy and teaching young guys that carry on the tradition of running the football,” he commented. “To me, I embrace that role of mentoring the young running backs, including Shonn Greene.”

Photo by Bill Menzel

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