When LaDainian Tomlinson got a Jets tattoo on his calf over the off-season we mocked him for his precocious attitude. At 31 years old, Tomlinson had battled through injuries the previous two years with the Chargers and wasn’t his old, explosive self. The New York Post said during training camp that Tomlinson was done, confirming our belief. Then the preseason games began and Tomlinson made a few nice plays.
Fast forward to Monday Night Football where Tomlinson led the Jets with 78 total yards on 13 touches. Tomlinson showed the ability to break a tackle that we hadn’t seen for a few years. He was nifty, shifty, and speedy. He wasn’t the Tomlinson of old, but LaDainian looked like a capable back.
Perhaps even more shocking than Tomlinson’s strong performance was Shonn Greene’s poor game. The second-year player from Iowa had just 27 yards on six touches and two fumbles (including one costly loss). Greene came on strong last year, going for over 100 yards in back-to-back playoff games. He averaged 5.6 ypc and scored two touchdowns in the Jets’ three post-season contests. Greene appeared poised to take over the starting gig and dominate as the team’s featured back this year, but his fumbling combined with Tomlinson’s strong performance have things looking less certain.
Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was adamant this week that anyone who fumbles will be temporarily removed from a game. The leash will obviously be short with Greene, and I believe he’ll still be the man in New York this year, but for the time being we’re looking at a twilight zone situation. At 31 and years removed from his best football, LaDainian Tomlinson has worked his way back into potentially a featured role. I never would have guessed this would happen.
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