Jets trying to find rest for Martin

Curtis Martin may have been the oldest player to win a rushing title since Marion Motley ran for 810 yards in 1950 but he performs each year as a spry 25 year old just hitting his prime due to his impressive work ethic and offseason conditioning. That does not mean the New York Jets want to see him continue the pounding that has allowed him to average 330 carries per season.

The Jets would like to save Curtis Martin from the grind of short yardage. Martin, who led the NFL in first downs with 102 (90 rushing, 12 receiving), had 12 runs on third-and-one, converting 11 of them.

While his success is applauded, the Jets understand they need a healthy Martin through the season to compete in a tough AFC East.

Newcomer Derrick Blaylock isn't a short yardage specialist either, although he clearly does have some moxie.

"I would describe myself as a slasher," said Blaylock. "I'm pretty quick to the hole, I have pretty nice moves, and a little power behind me. Don't think I won't drop the shoulder on a couple guys."

That could mean short yardage situations falling into the hands of second-year fullback B.J. Askew – who had just six carries for 23 yards last season.

After amassing two receptions, the Jets also hope Askew can provide more of a presence in the passing game.

Askew is solid at 6-foot-3, 233 pounds and the extra workload may help justify his draft status, taken in the third round, 85th overall, in the 2003 NFL Draft.

"A guy I think made a lot of progress in the off-season is B.J. Askew," general manager Terry Bradway said. "We'd like to see the ball in his hands, either running it or catching it. He's got the size, strength and speed to make it happen."

Martin is still an effective option on the goal line which should keep fantasy owners happy but the Jets may look to Askew on some of those 2nd-and-1s and 3rd-and-1s.

Of course, the Jets have been singing the same tune for years and only last year, finally confident in the departed LaMont Jordan, did they actually follow through.

Speaking of Martin, he has joined forces with Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin in a charitable endeavor that will benefit each man's favorite organization.

Martin raises money for the National Law Enforcement and Firefighters Children's Foundation, which provides support and services to children who have lost a parent in the line of duty.

Coughlin gave life to the Jay Fund, founded in the memory of a former player he coached at Boston College, Jay McGillis, who died in 1992 of leukemia.

"I am pleased to partner up with a guy I have to hate at least one day a year," Coughlin joked, referring to the Jets' top yard-gainer and the annual Jets-Giants preseason contest. "To be able to help a foundation which takes children who have lost a parent in this fashion gives me great pride."

Coughlin's son, Tim, was in the second tower on Sept. 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center towers were brought down by terrorist murderers. "He got out, and he told me about the heroism of the firefighters and the police officers," the coach added.

The two foundations will host a dinner/auction in a Manhattan restaurant in September.


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