FLORHAM PARK: It's taken him five NFL seasons, but Chris Ivory is finally the featured back in an NFL offense.
While Ivory has always been a good running back, he's never been the back for either of the two teams he's played for in his career. Be it with the New Orleans Saints, or the New York Jets, Ivory has always split carries with someone.
This year, that's not the case anymore. Ivory, in eight games, has rushed 156 times for 643 yards and six scores. He's just 42 carries away, with six games to play, from setting a new career-high in carries. His body has never taken this many hits before.
So, how's he staying fresh?
Needles. Lots and lots of needles.
"Acupuncture," Ivory said Thursday. "Been doing it since I got here."
While Ivory follows the same routine as many others in the Jets locker room (cold tub, hot tub, stay hydrated), he takes it upon himself to get his maintenance outside of the facility as well. For the last three years, beginning when he was traded to the Jets, he makes a trip on Monday, sometimes Tuesday, and Friday to get acupuncture.
The Jets training staff under ex-coach Rex Ryan came up with the program, and Ivory has stuck with it, saying that it's working "a little better than most things."
"If you know a little bit about it," Ivory said, "It's something that gets deeper in the muscle than your normal deep tissue massage. So far, it's worked for me."
While Ivory admitted it's painful, he also said he was originally a bit apprehensive about starting acupuncture. When he was with the Saints, he tried something called "dry needling" and didn't like it. He assumed acupuncture would be the same, but he was wrong. While dry needling is similar to acupuncture, it's not the same technique.
Ivory said dry needling focuses on just one muscle, when acupuncture looks at the bigger picture.
"Acupuncture hits a few main muscle points, trigger points in the body," Ivory said. "Say they hit that main muscle, they then follow all of the muscles that follow that main muscle and everything around it. It brings in new blood."
The system has been working. While the back went through a rough patch (he rushed for just over 80 yards combined from weeks 8-10), he bounced back against the Bills with 98 yards on the ground.
He said he feels good, healthy, and ready for the remainder of the season. And the first step in the rest of the season is a matchup this Sunday against the Houston Texans and all-pro defensive lineman J.J. Watt.
"They've got some pretty good linemen up front," Ivory said. "They get a lot of pressure, but I don't think it's anything we haven't seen before this year.
"We put in the work this week. We've got another work day tomorrow. We're ready for the challenge."