New Jet L.T. eager to prove Chargers, not age, to blame for drop-off

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- LaDainian Tomlinson says people shouldn't believe everything they see on film when it comes to his last few seasons in San Diego.

The New York Jets' newest running back said Thursday after a team workout that several factors led to his decreased production with the Chargers.

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"The things that happened in San Diego, everything was taken away from me," Tomlinson said. "There wasn't an emphasis on running the football anymore, my best fullback was gone, the linemen were pass blocking, and it was a passing quarterback and a passing coach. So, the situation's kind of misleading when you look on film."

Tomlinson, who signed a two-year contract worth about $5.2 million with the Jets last month, has a point about the Chargers' offensive focus. He no longer was the center of San Diego's attack the last few seasons. Instead, coach Norv Turner increasingly allowed quarterback Philip Rivers to throw the ball down the field.

Tomlinson, the eighth-leading rusher in NFL history, was cut in February after nine seasons in San Diego and a career-low 730 rushing yards and 3.3 yards per carry in 2009. There was speculation after the 2008 season that the Chargers might try to trade or even release Tomlinson, and he said he was unhappy with the team after last season.

"To be honest with you, I felt like last year was going to be my last year in San Diego," Tomlinson said. "After the problems we had the previous year with the organization, I knew it was time to leave. The transition wasn't as hard because I kind of prepared myself for it, and I was ready to kind of move on to something else."

Tomlinson turns 31 in June, but he insists he hasn't lost a step and still can make defensive players miss. He's also motivated by those who say he's washed up -- the 30-and-done running back rule -- and is no longer a dangerous player.

"It really doesn't bother me as much because I accept everything as a challenge, and that's fine with me," Tomlinson said. "I can stick that on my wall and look at it everyday, and it can motivate me to go out and work hard. At this stage of my career, I've got to outwork everybody else and prove that I can still play."

That's a big reason Tomlinson is participating in voluntary workouts this offseason.

"I think the most important thing is getting here and working out, having guys see how I work," he said. "You build a chemistry through the offseason by lifting weights and running. Guys see how you work and judge it from there."

With the Jets, Tomlinson is expected to complement Shonn Greene, who was promising during his rookie season. Tomlinson believes they can help each other stay fresh by sharing carries.

"Shonn and I work well together," said Tomlinson, whose locker is next to Greene's. "Hopefully we're like (Michael) Jordan and (Scottie) Pippen."

Tomlinson chose the Jets over the Minnesota Vikings because of his familiarity with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's system and the chance to win a championship. Tomlinson also relishes the opportunity to play in the AFC East, particularly against the New England Patriots.

"It's going to be fun," he said. "The Patriots have always been one of them teams that, it's hard for me to swallow that pill of losing to them, so it's going to fun to play them twice a year. And, it's going to be one of my main goals to beat them twice."

The dining options also have made for a smooth adjustment from Southern California to New York.

"Well, I never was a sushi guy," Tomlinson said, laughing. "I love Italian food and pizza, obviously, so it's been great. With my wife being pregnant, she loves that type of food, so all the better."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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