New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer says it's time for Shonn Greene to step up as the team's primary ballcarrier, and he believes his third-year running back is prepared for the challenge.
"Shonn's ready to take that next step," Schottenheimer told the New York Daily News on Friday. "He's just gotten better year in and year out. His durability (last season) was outstanding. You just see the confidence in his eyes. His ability to pick up pass-protection stuff has been terrific the last couple years.
"We expect a breakout season from him. He's a guy that's got just huge, huge, huge potential that we think is right there ready for him to grab."
Greene has rushed for 1,306 yards on just 293 carries in two seasons with the Jets, sharing responsibilities with Thomas Jones in 2009 and LaDainian Tomlinson last year. But Schottenheimer said Greene "without a doubt" will receive the opportunity to carry the ball about 20 times per game next season.
Greene demonstrated his durability late last season, taking more carries than Tomlinson in eight of the Jets' last 10 games, including all three playoff contests. Greene had just three games with 18 or more rushes, but Tomlinson said last month at quarterback Mark Sanchez's "Jets West" players-only minicamp that he's ready for a third-down role. That means Greene would take most of the carries.
Tomlinson had nearly half the Jets' carries in 2010 and led the team with 914 yards.
"Even toward the latter part of the season, (Shonn) got a lot of the work just because he had the hot hand," Schottenheimer told the newspaper. "When Shonn is on his game and running hard, there's not a single defensive player, including linebackers and defensive linemen, that want to see him coming with a full head of steam at them.â
"You can never have enough good players at that position," said Schottenheimer, who added: "I don't think we need to decide anything (about who will be active) just yet. Because there's so many things that come into the back part of the roster on game day in terms of special teams. I think it's hard to make that prediction now."