In his prime, Travis Henry was just an average running back. Despite that, he's now eying a return to the NFL at 34-years-old, but Gregg Rosenthal would be stunned if he got another chance.
The Patriots nearly brought home a Super Bowl title to end the 2011 season and are already being tabbed as a favorite to reach the big game again next year. Before that, however, they have a lot of work to do in free agency, more than any other team in this division.
That said, New England’s AFC East rivals all have some critical decisions to make in the coming weeks, with names like Stevie Johnson, Paul Soliai and LaDainian Tomlinson in line to join the free-agent ranks.
Full story on SI.com
NEW YORK (AP)—LaDainian Tomlinson has never seen a locker room as troubled as the one he was in with the New York Jets this season.
In an interview with Showtime’s “Inside The NFL” airing Wednesday night, the running back said the team was plagued by tension between players as the Jets finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs after two straight trips to the AFC championship game. Tomlinson said quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, in particular, had a rocky relationship.
“It is as bad as I’ve ever been around, honestly,” Tomlinson said of the locker room. “And I’ve been around some locker rooms and quarterback-receiver situations and what-not. But it was as bad as I’ve been around.”
The NFL’s fifth-leading rusher added that the problems got “out-of-hand toward the end of the season,” and were created by the brash approach of coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
“This is the type of football team that they wanted,” said Tomlinson, the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher. “Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan are both brash, in-your-face type of style—say whatever you want, just get it done on the field. And then it leads to other things, as guys are calling each other out and saying, `I’m not getting the ball’ or whatever it may be.”
Holmes was benched during the season finale at Miami after arguing in the huddle with teammates. Tomlinson said the tensions escalated to the point during the season where the players couldn’t do anything about it.
“When it gets to that point, there are certain changes that need to happen,” he said. “Can it be fixed? I think absolutely it can be, but they’re going to have to make some tough decisions.”
Holmes criticized the offensive line during the season, saying it wasn’t protecting Sanchez enough or giving him enough time to get the ball down the field to the receivers. Right guard Brandon Moore shot back, saying his public comments could have a “fracturing effect” and not the way a team captain— which Holmes was—should conduct business.
Tomlinson was asked if he would bring back both Sanchez and Holmes, given all the problems.
“Whew, that is a tough one,” Tomlinson said. “I would really have to sit down with them and see if they can co-exist, honestly. I mean that is a decision that I really have to make. And if I really feel like they can’t, then you have to make a move.”
Tomlinson said the Jets players poked fun at the feud, calling it the “East Coast-West Coast beef,” with Holmes being from Florida and Sanchez from Southern California.
“In all seriousness, Santonio, obviously, he is a great player,” Tomlinson said. “There are some things that obviously he needs to work on as far as being a leader.”
Sanchez struggled down the stretch, throwing seven interceptions in the Jets’ last three games—all losses. He was highly criticized during the season by fans and media, and those comments intensified after the Jets’ final game. The Daily News quoted an anonymous player saying Sanchez was “lazy,” something Tomlinson disputed. But the running back agreed that Sanchez was “a bit pampered” because he had no real threat in the roster to take his job.
“He is not a lazy guy,” Tomlinson said. “He puts in the time after practice in the film room. He can get it done. He just has to have pieces around him to help him get it done.”
The 32-year-old Tomlinson will be a free agent after two seasons with the Jets, and is considering retirement.
“I love playing for Rex,” Tomlinson said before adding that he wished the coach would tune down the bravado.
“I don’t mind every now and again saying we are going to win a championship,” he said. “Maybe at the beginning of the year just saying, `Hey, our goal is to win a championship.’ But at the same time every week if you are calling out a team on certain things, I think it puts a little extra on your team. Guys really want to go out there and say, `Let’s shut this guy up. Let’s shut these Jets up, just end their season.”’
NFL All Time Rushing Leaders
Rank Player (age), Bold – Active Yds Years
1. Emmitt Smith 18,355 1990-2004
2. Walter Payton 16,726 1975-1987
3. Barry Sanders 15,269 1989-1998
4. Curtis Martin 14,101 1995-2005
5. Jerome Bettis 13,662 1993-2005
6. LaDainian Tomlinson 13,590 2001-2011
7. Eric Dickerson 13,259 1983-1993
8. Tony Dorsett 12,739 1977-1988
9. Jim Brown 12,312 1957-1965
10. Marshall Faulk 12,279 1994-2005
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — LaDainian Tomlinson realizes he’s no longer considered the dominant, game-changing rusher he once was or even an every-down running back.
Just don’t think for a moment that he thinks he’s anywhere close to being done. In his second year with the New York Jets, Tomlinson is remaking himself as a third-down threat out of the backfield.
“It’s the role that I’m in and, for me, I don’t think it makes sense to sit here and try to pout about what’s not happening and the things you can do,” he said Thursday. “Embrace it. That’s the way I’ve always been.”
Some might say this version of L.T. is a shell of the electrifying player who once set an NFL record with 28 rushing touchdowns and 31 overall scores in 2006. Well, he’s 32 now and his 13,420 yards rushing and 588 receptions have surely taken a toll. But, Tomlinson still presents a challenge for opposing defenses. Just ask the Dallas Cowboys.
Tomlinson rushed for just 16 yards on five carries in the opener Sunday, but tied for the team lead with six catches for 73 yards. That included a 32-yard catch-and-run that helped set up the Jets’ first score late in the first half.
“I think he has proved people wrong,” fullback John Conner said. “I think some people think he’s probably ready to hang it up, but he’s still moving great out there with great feet and makes a lot of big plays for us.”
Coach Rex Ryan says Tomlinson might not have the speed he had as a young player, but still has some slick moves.
“He’s a guy that I think when it’s all said and done, when his career’s over and he’s in the Hall of Fame and all that, he’ll come back and win like a ‘Dancing In The Stars’ kind of thing,” Ryan said.
Umm, Rex, it’s “Dancing WITH The Stars.”
“I created my own show,” Ryan said, grinning. “It’s ‘Dancing In the Stars.’ Anybody can do it with the stars.”
So, how about it, L.T.? Maybe a few foxtrots and waltzes down the line?
“Uh, no,” Tomlinson said with a laugh. “I won’t be on ‘Dancing With The Stars.’ That’s not going to happen. But, I’m glad Rex can still see the skills. I would say back then, I used to be real fast.
“Now I’m just, you know, fast.”
Fast enough to make defenses pay attention to him whenever he’s out on the field. While that might not be as often as it once was, he’s OK with that, even though he needs 243 yards rushing to pass Jerome Bettis (13,662) for fifth place on the NFL’s career rushing list.
“I’ve always been a guy that whatever my role was, whether it was carrying the ball 25 times or catching the ball out of the backfield, I was going to do the best I could,” he said. “It’s no different here, playing that third-down role.”
He has taken a backseat to Shonn Greene, who has been tapped as the starter in his third season. That comes after Tomlinson ran for 914 yards and could have had a shot at his ninth 1,000-yard season in 10 years if he hadn’t rested for the regular-season finale against Buffalo.
“I think you approach it as not being as selfish as a guy who wants to do everything,” Tomlinson said.
Greene had just 26 yards rushing on 10 carries Sunday, but the Jets couldn’t do much of anything on the ground against the Cowboys. Mark Sanchez ended up throwing 44 times for 335 yards, while the team used several three-tight end sets.
“We’re still using the fullback, but we’re using more tight ends, so it’s a different change,” Tomlinson said. “We’re working on it, we’re getting better, but we’re still going to be able to run the football. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem for us.”
Tomlinson carried the ball three times on first down and twice on second down against Dallas, but two of his six catches came on third-down plays for first downs.
“This is something that I’ve always wanted to do, is running routes out of the backfield as I got a little older,” said Tomlinson, who has said he wants to play through next season. “Of course, I’ve said before that I embraced it. I embraced the role and, obviously, I want to touch the ball, no doubt. When I’m running routes, I want Mark to look for me. So, I think that’s a part of the competitiveness that you have and wanting to contribute to the team, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
The less-is-better approach is one Tomlinson insists he would have taken years ago if he was asked, even during his biggest seasons with the San Diego Chargers. The first season he had less than 300 carries was his eighth in 2008.
“My first, second, third year, I carried the ball a lot, so it got to the point where even in San Diego, I really wanted Michael Turner to help me out a lot and the same with Darren Sproles,” he said. “It was just because I felt I wanted to be fresher as the season went along and we got closer to the playoffs.”
Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was part of his father Marty’s staff in San Diego from 2002-05, when Tomlinson ran for 6,125 yards and 62 touchdowns.
“Obviously, he’s still a great player,” Schottenheimer said. “The only thing I see is back then, when he would break, you very rarely saw anybody on the screen with him. He’s learned to use his quickness and stuff now, but still just a great player and obviously a guy that’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”
Notes: Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, under contract through this season, said he’d like to coach through the 2012 season. “That’s my goal,” he said. “Then I’ll be 65 and that might be enough, but trust me, I don’t think that far ahead.”
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP)—New York Jets running back Shonn Greene has a “low-grade skin infection” on his right foot and will not play in the team’s preseason game against Cincinnati on Sunday night.
Team spokesman Bruce Speight said Thursday night that the infection was caught early and is being treated “appropriately with antibiotics.”
Greene, expected to be the starting running back this season, was at the team’s facility. The team did not immediately know if it is a staph infection because the type of skin infection Greene has cannot be cultured. Typically, only open wounds can be cultured.
Greene was at the morning walkthrough, but didn’t practice Thursday and it’s unknown when he’ll return to the field. With Greene out on Sunday and Joe McKnight healing from a concussion, LaDainian Tomlinson, Bilal Powell and Chris Jennings will handle the carries.
Meanwhile, wide receiver Plaxico Burress appeared to be a full participant at practice while working with the first-team offense. He had been hobbled by a sprained left ankle until Wednesday, when he caught his first pass of training camp in team drills. Burress appears to be on track to make his playing debut for the Jets on Sunday.
Center Nick Mangold (stinger), right guard Brandon Moore (hip) and backup quarterback Mark Brunell (pinkie) all participated in team drills.
Linebacker Bart Scott (leg), nose tackle Sione Pouha (left knee) and Marcus Dixon (knee) all did not participate in team drills. Scott didn’t seem concerned about the swelling and soreness in the leg.
“I’ve had a lot worse,” he said. “If this was the regular season, it wouldn’t matter. I’d throw some dirt on it.”
Copyright 2011 Associated Press
LaDainian Tomlinson’s role is expected to decrease this season, and so is his salary.
ESPN.com’s John Clayton reports Tomlinson will “only” get $1.1 million this year, down from $2.625 million.
Full story at Pro Football Talk