Tomlinson prepared to quiet doubters again

September, 8, 2011
9/08/11
6:09
PM ET
Yeah, yeah.

LaDainian Tomlinson has heard it all before. How he’s done, finished and should retire.

But entering his 11th season, Tomlinson, 32, is ready to prove his critics wrong.

“That’s fine. It’s great to hear the doubters in the preseason and kind of change their minds when I keep it going and they see you make plays for the team, and they’re like, ‘Oh well, he does have something left,’” Tomlinson said Thursday. “Then the question’s gonna be, ‘Well, is he gonna wear down 12 games into the season? So I can’t win (with them), but at the same time I’m gonna play my butt off and do my part.”

The veteran running back, who is likely to have more of a diminished third down role this year given that Shonn Greene has assumed the staring role, didn’t play very much in the preseason, compiling just 20 yards on 11 carries in three games.

“I didn’t (play that much),” Tomlinson said. “And it kind of reminded me of the old days when I didn’t do much in the preseason. ... that’s either a good or bad thing. The good thing either they’re saving me, or the bad thing I’m not gonna play much this season.”

Then Tomlinson laughed.

“Veterans know how to pace themselves a little bit,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “He’s got a feel for this system and his body. I thought he performed well (in the preseason). Preseason games can be a bit misconstrued.”

BE AFRAID: Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, Rex’s brother, altered his gameplan, according to quarterback Tony Romo, after the Jets signed free agent safety Andrew Sendejo from Dallas a week before their opening night matchup.

“We have all their hand signals, checks and alignments,” Rex Ryan joked. “I do want (Rob) to be worried about. It’s human nature to be worried about it. I would really work on that kind of communication -- your hand signals, especially”

For his part, Sendejo downplayed the significance of his arrival.

“They just said, ‘Hey, if you know anything, go holler at Mark (Sanchez),’” Sendejo said. “I said, ‘Ok.’ That’s pretty much it. I’ve been so busy running around trying to get schedule and try to get used to everything, I haven’t really had time to do much.

“Like I told (another reporter), there’s really not much I can do about them changing everything. I guess it’s just part of it.”

FIVE-MAN OR SIX-MAN ROTATION? No, we’re not talking about the Yankees pitching staff.

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine indicated that the Jets weren’t sure if they were going to rotate five or six defensive linemen on Sunday.

Muhammad Wilkerson, Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, Marcus Dixon and Ropati Pitoitua are going to be in the lineup. The question is whether rookie defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis will be joining them.

If so, Ellis would likely only be used on short yardage and goal line situations, Pettine said.

Pettine also noted that Wilkerson won’t get 60-70 snaps on Sunday night, and that he’s going to rotate guys in and out to keep them fresh.

THAT'S SPECIAL: Special teams coach Mike Westhoff intimated that rookie return man Jeremy Kerley is going to be the guy on punts and kickoffs, but he does have Antonio Cromartie and Joe McKnight waiting in the wings.

Although Ryan said Jim Leonhnard wouldn’t be returning punts, Westhoff said the safety has been fielding them in practice.

Also, when asked the new kickoff rules (30 to 35-yard line), Westhoff said he expects about 35-40 percent of them to land for touchbacks. Last season, Westhoff counted almost 17 percent.

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