Martin in the best shape of his life

Curtis Martin is brimming with his humble confidence this off-season, so much so that the Jets' featured back told Randy Lange of The Record and Jets Confidential after a Jets OTA practice that he's looking to do something that only one other back in NFL history has done at the age of 31 or older:

Rush for 1,500 yards.

Q)Every off-season you try something different to get yourself ready for the coming season. What's new this time?

Martin: I've had [strength coach] John Lott just make my workouts harder. What I plan on doing is staying here after practice when everyone else leaves and working with him. I'm looking forward to trying to break longer touchdowns this year. That's my goal. I'm fine the first 30 or 40 yards, but after that I want to work on my top-end speed, at sustaining that speed the rest of the way to the end zone.

Q)You seem even more optimistic at this time of year than usual. Why?

Martin: This is my first healthy off-season in a while. I got the opportunity to work on all the little things that I've wanted to. I'm still doing rubber-cord and parachute running. And I've been staying out in California this off-season and running the Santa Monica Stairs.

Q)I think I've heard of them. What are they exactly?

Martin: Those are the toughest stairs I've ever run in my life. Somebody built wood stairs on the side of a mountain. The incline is almost as straight up as you can go without falling down. There's something like 220 steps. They're so daggone steep that by the time you get to the top after one trip, you don't want to come down. I try to do five sets of them every time I'm there, running up and jogging back down.

Q)How did you find out about the stairs?

Martin: I was out there and a friend told me about them. I said, `Man, I've been looking for some good stairs.' ''

Q)I know you don't like to go into a lot of detail about goals, but Herman Edwards said something the other day about hoping you can run for 1,500 yards and that LaMont Jordan can run for 1,000. Can you get to 1,500 this season? You're 31 now, and only Walter Payton has ever gained that many yards at that age or older.

Martin: I'm expecting to have a minimum of 1,500 yards, and I don't even mind saying it this year. I feel that way because of the work I'm doing. I'm a big believer in that you get out what you put in. This year I've put in as much work as any year, I feel like I'm moving as well as I ever have, and I'm improving before the season starts. I'm really going to be ready.

Q)How about getting more exhibition carries to get you more ready?

Martin: I'm hoping they're going to give me more reps during the preseason. I just want to eliminate all the excuses -- not that I use excuses anyway, but I just want to cover myself, make sure I'm as well-prepared as possible for this season. I'm looking forward to a big year.

Q)The other half of Coach Edwards' hopes were for LaMont to get 1,000. Only a few pairs of backs on the same team have gotten 1,000 yards in the same season. Can you and LaMont both do that?

Martin: Yeah, yeah. We could definitely do that. Of course, we'd have to be running more as a team. If we're running that well, I'm sure we'll run more.

Q)That's a lot of carries for a West Coast offense, which to me seems to emphasize passing the ball more than running it.

Martin: I don't think of the West Coast as a passing offense. I think it's designed to do a lot of creative things in the passing game, but it's a balanced offense in which the goal is for us to be running just as much as we're passing.

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