As he stood chatting with reporters before exiting New Meadowlands Stadium following today's public workout, running back LaDainian Tomlinson was serenaded by fan chants of "LT! LT!" The longtime Chargers running back, who is coming off his first sub-1,000-yard rushing year, drank it all in and looked forward to his future on the East Coast.
Asked if it's hard to start over after spending his entire career wearing the lightning bolts, Tomlinson said, "Absolutely not. These fans have accepted me. I feel like I've been a Jet forever, especially the way they've accepted me. It's not hard at all starting over."
In fact, it sounded as though Tomlinson is eager to carve out a role for himself in the offense even though Shonn Greene is expected to inherit the starting running back role from departed Thomas Jones. As much as Tomlinson seemed to decline physically last season, you have to wonder how much of it was related to the Chargers' style of wide-open offense.
The Jets had the top rushing attack in the NFL last season, and even though they must replace free-agent guard Alan Faneca, their offensive line remains a formidable force. "This is a great group of guys," Tomlinson said of the linemen. "When you've got a group that's been together and knows what's at hand and how to get the job done, anybody would be excited about that. That chemistry is definitely building. It's going to happen even more in training camp."
After the Giants practiced in the stadium on Tuesday, they blamed at least one injury on the turf. But Tomlinson prounounced it a "fast track." And hearing the noise from an estimated crowd of 12,000 Jets fans, it wasn't hard for him to imagine what the new stadium will be like in the fall. "This place is awesome," Tomlinson said. "To open a stadium like this in New York, are you kidding me? That's great."
Tomlinson was accompanied from San Diego by former Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who figures to replace departed Lito Sheppard as the starter opposite All-NFL cornerback Darrelle Revis. He received a boisterous cheer after intercepting a pass intended for wide receiver Braylon Edwards during seven-on-seven drills.
"It's been real great," Cromartie said of the change of scenery. "I'm having fun, and I'm definitely looking forward to when the stadium is filled with Jets fans and we hear 'J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!' That's going to be really exciting." Thinking of Tomlinson, Cromartie added, "He's looking for a bounceback year. It's a fresh start for both of us coming from San Diego, and we're looking forward to it."