Reports of his demise were greatly over-exaggerated.
The big news out of the fifth day of Jets training camp had nothing to do with replacing the recently waived Jerricho Cotchery or the afternoon practice scuffle between offensive lineman Patrick Turner and defensive end Jamaal Westerman. Instead, the dominating storyline was that running back LaDainian Tomlinson will not retire at the end of the year as was assumed.
“This is not the last year that I will play football,” Tomlinson said. “I hope I continue to play here, but this won’t be my last year.”
Now in his second year with the Jets, Tomlinson’s role will diminish in the offense as head coach Rex Ryan said on Thursday that backfield partner Shonn Greene will shoulder more of the carries. Tomlinson carried much of the load in the beginning of last season as he accumulated 219 carries for 914 yards rushing, a fairly heavy burden for the 32-year old running back.
“He had almost 1,000 yards rushing last year; played great in the playoffs, so we know he’s definitely got a lot left in the tank,” Ryan said. “I just think his role now is being primarily a third-down back where he doesn’t have to take the grind of being a first and second-down back, on a down-after-down basis, will be good for him.”
Jets’ Friday camp notes
Losing Woody: On Thursday, the Jets announced the retirement of veteran offensive lineman Damien Woody, a player who was highly respected in the locker room. Woody will join ESPN as a studio commentator.
“I didn’t really want to see him go, but talking to him in the offseason, this was something he was considering. He had a hell of a career and picked it up even more at the end when he came here,” guard Brandon Moore said. “He was a pleasure to play with for a guy of that caliber, because you don’t get an opportunity to do that a lot during your career. I know he’ll be successful in whatever he chooses to do after this.”
Tone-xample: It might be a surprise to fans and pundits alike, but wide receiver Santonio Holmes is emerging as a veteran leader on this team. Rookie wide receiver Scotty McKnight told Metro that Holmes has been active in mentoring him during the early days of training camp.
“I listen to Coach Ryan day-in and day-out. He’s constantly grabbing me and pulling me to the side, telling me, ‘Tone, I just need you to lead by example. Show these young guys how to do it, show them what they need to do. Correct it, and let’s keep it moving.’ I think these guys are picking up the offense very well,” Holmes said. “Everything is going smoothly, whether it’s running a route, beating a guy downfield differently than what he should be, that’s pretty much the only thing that we have to correct these young guys with. So it’s been helping a lot that these guys are learning the offense.”
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for live news and pictures from Jets training camp.