Future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson was nice enough to take a few minutes to talk with TOJ about his work with with Gatorade this off-season, how he is staying in shape during the lockout, the future of the Jets backfield, Mark Sanchez and more…
TOJ: What led to your decision to work with the Gatorade G Series and GNC Athletic Performance Clinic at Mission Viejo High School this past week?
LT: I have had a relationship with Gatorade for years and when they came out with the G Series Pro Line, we thought it was perfect for what I am all about, which is nutrition and taking care of your body. So we are out here at Mission Viejo High School teaching kids about what they need to learn on that topic. Young athletes need to know that what you put into your body is what you are going to get out of your body.
TOJ: Outside of the Jets West, how have you worked to stay in shape this off-season with the lockout currently in place? Also, have you worked with any other teammates besides your days at Jets West?
LT: I have been doing my own thing. I normally work with a trainer all off-season. I have always been a guy who doesn’t take much time off anyway. Overall, I am just staying in good shape and making sure I am on top of my game for when football starts back up. I have been talking with some of my teammates and we are planning workouts together in the New Jersey area in the coming month.
TOJ: Can you talk about your relationship with Mark Sanchez and how he has grown into a leader on this football team?
LT: Every year single year in the NFL you grow and that is what we have seen from Mark. He has really taken the challenge of being the coach on the field this off-season because he knows what the coaches will expect from everybody. He has mastered the ins and outs of what all of us on the field are supposed to be doing. I’ve been in this offense for a long time, so I also know what is going with everyone, which means Mark can come to me about different stuff and I can go to him to ask what he wants in different situations. He is not a hard guy to get along with. Mark is a passionate about what he does, wants to win, and is overall a great guy.
TOJ: Earlier this off-season, you said you were ready to embrace the role of a third down back on this team, which is not a common thing for running backs in the NFL to say. What was the thinking behind that statement?
LT: This is my 11th year and I am a guy who still has something left in the tank. I want to use that in terms of coming out of the backfield, running routes, and blocking in third down situations, which is an important role on the team. I feel like it is necessary because we have a guy in Shonn Greene, who can handle the bulk of the carries. That doesn’t mean I won’t carry the ball ever, but I just don’t need to be the primary ball carrier. I want to be the guy who keeps the chains moving.
TOJ: Can you talk about the young running backs on this team, specifically Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight?
LT: I think Shonn definitely has what it takes. It is all about knowing your role and what is expected out of you. The last two years he has learned alot and taken the challenge on. He is ready to become a lead back in this league. Joe has shown flashes and glimpses that he can handle being a productive NFL back. He is versatile and can do a little bit of everything: return kicks, catch the ball, and block. I think he definitely has potential but now it is all about learning, honing your skills and perfecting it.