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LaDainian: Sanchez not lazy, but needs to be pushed

New York Jets' LaDainian Tomlinson celebrates his touchdown

New York Jets' LaDainian Tomlinson celebrates his touchdown during the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs. (Dec. 11, 2011) (Credit: AP)

Count LaDainian Tomlinson among those who don't think Mark Sanchez is lazy.

The future Hall of Fame running back became the latest one to chime in and essentially dismiss the remarks of an anonymous Jets player quoted in a published report last week. The report portrayed Sanchez as lazy and someone who doesn't work hard in part because he knows he's not going to get pulled.

"Listen," Tomlinson said today on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown." "There's a lot of things you can say about Mark Sanchez, but to call him lazy is a bit much. This a is a guy that has worked very hard off the field, in the film room -- I’ve seen it -- in the weight room, putting in extra time with the coaches early in the morning after practice when everybody is gone. He’s putting in time, so he's not lazy."

Tomlinson strongly hinted the negative rhetoric surrounding Sanchez stems from some problems the quarterback had with his wideouts.

"I think some things that happened in the locker room obviously between him and the receivers," Tomlinson said, "I think that's where some of this is coming from, some of the disconnects that happened throughout the year, some of the arguments you guys heard about throughout the year. So I think that’s where this may be coming from."

Tomlinson admitted the Jets' locker room had its share of issues.

"There’s always locker room tension between guys," he said. "You have 53 guys, strong personalities. You are not always going to get along with each other, but you do have to respect each other. And I think there were times in the locker room where things were happening, but the players for the most part [during] the season kept it under wraps, and it really didn't get out in the media until the end of the season.

"I think it happened because of the losses we had toward the end of the season, and once that starts happening, then you have guys coming out in the media saying they are not happy with certain situations. So I think that’s the issue here. You have guys staying anonymous that are saying things that are bringing this team down and you can’t have that."

Still, Tomlinson didn't deny Sanchez needs someone behind him on the depth chart that's truly a threat to play. That was never the case this season with Mark Brunell, who's 41 years old, and Kevin O'Connell as the backups.

"With all of us, as athletes we play our best football -- or whatever sport you may be playing -- when you are pushed," Tomlinson said." Competition brings that out of us. For Mark, he hasn't had that competition to push him. I do think he would be a better player if he did have some competition, somebody to push him."

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