- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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Once Tiki Barber decided he was ready to make a comeback, he hit the gym with his personal trainer.
Joe Carini, who runs Carini’s House of Iron and also trains the likes of Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Giants offensive lineman Chris Snee, says it won’t be long before Barber is back in playing shape after a four-year layoff.
“Already got him on leg press (doing) 980 for reps,” Carini said. “He is 198 and is in good shape. Not as strong (yet) as he is going to be. He is pushing more and more each day.”
“He is dead serious and he has been coming in every day and on time.”
Carini said Barber needs to add 10 more pounds of muscle to return to his playing weight and that should only take a few more weeks. He thinks Barber is currently around 10 percent body fat.
Last season, Carini helped Tomlinson add six pounds of muscle to his frame while retaining speed. Tomlinson carried the ball 219 times for 914 yards and six touchdowns.
Tim Hasselbeck, ESPN NFL analyst and a former Giants teammate of Barber's from 2005-2006, believes Barber can still help a team in the right situation because of how intelligent and prepared the running back is.
“The guy is smart,” Hasselbeck said on NFL Live. “If you are asking a running back to know all his assignments and know what he is supposed to do, he can get that done. If you are talking about football maybe not starting back up again until close to training camp and not having a ton of time before the start of the season, Tiki Barber, aside from the physical aspect of it, is the kind of guy who can come in and a week later be ready to play for you. That is how he is mentally."
If all goes well on this comeback, Barber could potentially play a similar role to the one Tomlinson did for a new team. Tomlinson carried the ball 20 times only once last season while sharing carries with Shonn Greene. He also had 52 receptions for 368 yards out of the backfield.
Barber had 58 receptions for 465 yards to go with 1,662 rushing yards and five touchdowns in his last season in 2006.
Of course, a four-year layoff is significant. And Tomlinson is 31. Barber will turn 36 in April.
“Mentally, I think he is real, real determined,” Carini said. “No question about that. He wants to get this done and now he sees he can get this done despite the age factor.”
“If he gets with the right team and they utilize him the right way, the man will be back on top,” Carini added. “I’m not saying they need to give him (the ball) 20-to-25 times a week but he still has enough left in the tank.”