- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Washed up? Lost acceleration? A bad acquisition?
Not so much.
LaDainian Tomlinson continued Friday to look like the best of the brand-name players the New York Jets reeled in during the offseason. The running back had 86 yards on 11 carries against the Washington Redskins, including a 43-yard run to start the second series for the first string.
"It's only his 10th year and he was dinged up the last couple years, so I think he's showing very early that he's got what it takes," said former Miami Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor, another new Jet.
Only his 10th?
"Ten is the new five," Taylor said with a laugh.
Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said Tomlinson got down field so fast he ended up getting tackled by DeAngelo Hall, a cornerback, and Cotchery admitted he could have done a little better trying to block for the back but said everything unfolded so quickly.
"He's getting through that hole pretty fast right now," Cotchery said.
Tomlinson also had a 9-yard reception and led the team in rushing and combined yardage. It wasn't a good night for the Jets' offense as Gang Green lost 16-11 to the Redskins at the new Meadowlands stadium, but Tomlinson was without question the bright spot.
"One thing I think people need to understand: We've been very vanilla this offseason," Tomlinson said. "We ran basic plays, and I know at times it doesn't look like we're doing very good, but these are basic plays we're running so we're executing them. We won't really game plan until the season starts, so we're doing fine. I think we're going to be fine."
The former Charger, 31, signed a two-year contract worth $5.1 million with the Jets after the team let marquee running back Thomas Jones leave for Kansas City. Leon Washington was traded to the Seahawks, leaving second-year player Shonn Greene as the only returning halfback who started. Greene was slated to be the No. 1 running back, but Tomlinson is too good to relegate to the second tier.
"The guy has been lights out, unbelievable, just need to get him touches," quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "He converted a third-and-long again in the red zone on a checkdown, so that's encouraging."
Sanchez often finds Tomlinson when a play starts to break down or there is pressure in the pocket.
"He's got such great vision, such great feel, he knows when I'm moving to shadow me and find the open lane," Sanchez said. "Makes it easy when you have a guy like that."
It didn't exactly look easy Friday night, but even as Sanchez continues to struggle with the passing game, the running game looks solid once again.
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