New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson, center, runs between...

New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson, center, runs between David Harris, left, and Sione Pouha during morning practice. (Aug. 3, 2010) Credit: AP

CORTLAND, N.Y. - He hears the naysayers telling him he's done, the experts explaining how the tread on his tires has long since passed the manufacturer's recommended lifespan.

LaDainian Tomlinson knows he's been written off by many, most of whom believed the Chargers were right to toss him to the side. That has the future Hall of Famer as driven as ever to get the job done, ready to show that it's not time for him to be thrown on the scrap heap with the other running backs who slammed into the proverbial wall after hitting that 30-year-old plateau.

"That's something I really want to prove," said Tomlinson, 31. "Everybody talks about running backs at the age of 30 and their downfall or whatever. But I've always wanted to prove that with the shape I've been in throughout my career and the way I've taken care of my body, I want to prove that it can be done.

"So I'm excited about that."

Statistically, Tomlinson had one of the least productive seasons in an NFL career that began in 2001, leading to whispers that he was done. The five-time Pro Bowler had several career lows, including rushing attempts (223), rushing yardage (730), average yards per carry (3.3), receptions (20), receiving yards (154) and games played and started (14).

Tomlinson failed to crack 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career, and the 10-year veteran's longest run from scrimmage was 36 yards, also a career low. The Chargers believed the guy who holds several significant NFL records didn't have it anymore and showed him the door in February.

He signed a two-year, $5.2-million deal with the Jets nearly a month later, and he already has jelled with his teammates, who sense a newfound purpose in Tomlinson's 5-10, 221-pound frame.

"Oh, absolutely," nose tackle Kris Jenkins said. "That's something that you deal with when you get to this point in your career. We came in at the same time, so 10 years in, you start looking at that age and you start taking it upon yourself to push yourself past certain barriers that most people think that you are not going to get past."

Tomlinson's drive already was apparent during the offseason, but Rex Ryan got another glimpse of it last week. The staff wanted to hold him out of the conditioning test because Tomlinson tweaked his hamstring during his final personal offseason workout. But he wasn't about to tap out as if someone had him in the figure-four leg lock.

Not after having his career resuscitated.

"That's the way I look at it," said Tomlinson, whose wife, LaTorsha, gave birth to son Daylen, the couple's first child, last month. "New team, also a new baby, and so it is kind of a rebirth. It is all new for me with my family and just out here on the football field."

Something else that's new? Taking on more of a reserve role.

With Shonn Greene entrenched at the top of the depth chart as Thomas Jones' successor, Tomlinson won't be asked to shoulder the load the way he did in San Diego. So he can continue to "Electric Glide" his way deeper into the NFL's record books while potentially forming a formidable duo with Greene.

"I am looking forward to it, not only with our backfield tandem but also the whole offensive unit," Tomlinson said. "We've got a ton of talented guys. Mark Sanchez being in his second year, he's only going to get better. We've got great skill positions, we've got the best offensive line in football. So I'm excited about the whole deal that we can create in this league."

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