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Tomlinson feels strong, motivated by age talk

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Tomlinson feels strong, motivated by age talk

    Casey Pearce
    Posted 40 minutes ago

    Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson knows the history of NFL running backs over the age of 30, but he finds the talk challenging, not discouraging.

    Following the Chargers’ first full-squad practice of training camp Friday morning, a reporter asked Tomlinson about being 29-year old. Without hesitation, LT smiled and interrupted him.

    “I’m 30 now,” Tomlinson said. “I just turned 30 now so I’ll correct you on that.”

    Tomlinson knows the history and is aware of the stats, but the two-time rushing champion who blew out 30 candles on a June birthday cake truly believes he can be one of the exceptions to the trend that NFL backs decline once they hit their third decade.

    Tomlinson, with 11,760 career yards and 126 rushing touchdowns, has certainly seen the many articles this offseason that have predicted his decline, but claims he’s motivated by the doubters, not agitated by them.

    “That’s the perception not only for me but running backs throughout history,” Tomlinson said Friday following the Chargers’ first full-squad practice. “That’s something that you fight against every day and every year. My challenge is to prove them wrong. It’s certainly going to be a heck of a challenge and I’m looking forward to it. In the long run I think it’ll help me.”

    The Chargers’ all-time leading rusher spent a lot of time pondering his career this spring, and during that time he was confronted with how quickly things can change in the NFL. He referred to his friend Edgerrin James, who at age 29 rushed for 1,222 yards in 2007, but gained just 514 last season after reaching the not-so-special birthday in regards to NFL running backs.

    James doesn’t stand alone. Seattle’s Shaun Alexander was the league MVP in 2005 with 1,880 yards and 28 touchdowns, an NFL record until LT broke it a year later. After he turned 30 in 2007, he put up just 716 yards.

    At 27, Eddie George rushed for 1,509 for the Titans in 2001 with an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Three years later, he gained 1,031 on 3.3 yards per carry. Jerome Bettis rushed for 1,072 yards at age 29 and 666 at 30. Carolina’s Stephen Davis rushed for 1,444 in 2004, but 549 was his best total after he turned 30. Ahman Green gained 1,059 yards a year before he hit 30 and 260 the next.

    There are exceptions. Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, had a 1,397-yard season and 4.2 average per carry the year he hit 30. Last season, Jets running back Thomas Jones led the AFC with 1,312 yards at 30. And in 2004, 31-year-old Curtis Martin led the NFL with 1,697 yards.

    Tomlinson, who is completely recovered from a toe injury that hampered him throughout 2008 and a groin injury that kept him out of the team’s playoff loss in Pittsburgh, did everything he could this offseason to make sure that he’s physically ready for his ninth NFL season. He saw a biomechanics doctor and focused on building strength in addition to his normal rigorous offseason training.

    “I was so messed up as far as my body…my body wasn’t put together properly,” Tomlinson said. “I spent some time putting myself back together and then getting back strong. I think that was important. I do feel stronger. I’m as lean as I’ve been but I’ve still got the weight with me. That tells me a lot (about) how strong I am. I spent more time in the weight room doing some different workouts; what I think was getting back to the basics.”

    Head Coach Norv Turner has been encouraged by what he’s seen from Tomlinson this spring and truly believes the five-time Pro Bowler will continue to play at the high level to which fans have grown accustomed.

    Turner said he’ll do everything he can to help keep LT fresh, but that doesn’t necessarily mean giving a bulk of Tomlinson’s carries to Darren Sproles[​IMG], mainly because he believes the Chargers benefit so greatly when the ball is frequently in LT’s hands.

    “LT is a big part of this offense when we’re going good,” Turner said. “There’s no question Sproles showed he can compliment LT, but LT is going to end up with enough carries to be a contender for the rushing title and I think that’s when he’s at his best.”

    Tomlinson claims he’s at his best when he feels challenged, and he hasn’t had to look very far this offseason for pieces of motivation. He knows the challenge ahead. In addition to the conversations regarding LT’s age, the Chargers will face seven teams that finished in the top 10 in rushing defense last season. That’s all helped the five-time Pro Bowler put his eyes on the prize.

    “I think I’m a little bit more focused and a little more disciplined,” Tomlinson said. “In order to perform you have to be disciplined and obviously you have to be up for the challenge. I think I’m more focused when I’m challenged.”

    • Like Like x 1
  2. MONDO.

    MONDO. Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2007
    LT is going to have a monster year; everyone talks about him having lost something but I honestly think he is going to have one of his best years ever as Rivers is going to be on point and the running lanes are going to be wide open...

    LT is going to show the whole league why he's a hall of famer!

    • Like Like x 2
  3. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    QFT :tup:
  4. Enormo

    Enormo BoltTalker

    Jul 22, 2007
    I don't get why so many were announcing the demise of LTs career when he's been hurt the whole time and the OLine was sucking wind.

    At worst he deserves the "injury prone" label only once he has had time to heal and THEN gets injured again. He's had that time to heal. It's up to him to stay healthy.

    At worst his skills deserve to be evaluated when going into the season with a clean bill of health. Now it's up to him to produce.

    Based on LT's hyper-consistent production over his entire career (yes even last year when injured) he deserves to go into this year without being judged. But I'm glad he is being judged unfairly. The only thing better than LT is a pissed off LT.

    Personally, I expect fireworks.

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