LaDainian Tomlinson was pursued heavily by the Vikings and Jets, but he chose the Jets for a better opportunity and more familiarity. That's looking like the right choice for him, as he is rejuvenated early in 2010.
One can only wonder how much different things would be heading into Monday's game had running back LaDainian Tomlinson
opted to sign with the Vikings instead of the Jets. Both the Vikings and Jets were under the same restrictions in free agency, which made their bidding war for Tomlinson, who was released by the Chargers in the offseason, an epic battle. With so few players able to be pursued, Tomlinson became a priority prospect for both teams.
In the end, Tomlinson chose the Jets over the Vikings despite Minnesota offering more money. L.T.'s rationale was that he felt he had a better shot at getting the kind of playing time he wanted with New York rather than the Vikings, believing his chances of being the lead dog of the backfield would be greatly enhanced competing with youngster Shonn Greene
is a run-heavy offense rather than competing with Adrian Peterson
in a much more balanced offensive attack.
Although he is averaging just 14 carries a game, Tomlinson's 6.1-yard rushing average trails only league-leading rusher Arian Foster
(6.3) for the best in the NFL for players with 35 or more rushing attempts. His performance has astounded those analysts who left Tomlinson's career for dead when the Chargers let him go. But, one insider, former Chargers teammate Ben Leber
, said he isn't surprised.
"He is phenomenal athlete and he's playing like he did back when I was on the team with him," Leber said. "He's always been a hard worker and is motivated to prove people wrong. There aren't many running backs that can do what he does."
As to the run game that saw both Tomlinson and Greene rush for more than 100 yards on Sunday, Jared Allen
was quick to point out that it was Buffalo they were running roughshod against.
"We're not Buffalo," Allen said. "Everybody's been getting off on Buffalo. How come we don't have Buffalo on our schedule?"
When informed the Vikings do play Buffalo, Allen asked, "Do we? Where do we play them? Here? Oh, hey!"
Although the Vikings will have a lot of weapons to contend with Monday night, the difference in the game could come down to Tomlinson, who was close to being a Viking rather than a Jet, but showed that, in his case, the promise of playing time meant more than the promise of guaranteed money.
The numbers on the Vikings are going to be skewed as they are one of just four teams to already have their bye week. For example, Adrian Peterson is tied for third in rushing with 392 yards, but his 130.7-yard average per game trails only Foster's 134.2 yards per game.
During his Monday press conference, Jets head coach Rex Ryan said he expects Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, WR Santonio Holmes and LB Calvin Pace to all be in the lineup Monday. Revis has missed time with a hamstring injury, Pace has been out with a broken bone in his foot and Holmes is returning from a four-game suspension for failing the league's substance-abuse policy.
Vikings starters John Sullivan and Visanthe Shiancoe were both sidelined from practice Monday. Shiancoe said the bye week was productive for him to get his ailing hamstring healed up. Sullivan was not in the locker room following practice to answer questions. Backup Ryan Cook, who replaced Sullivan against the Lions, took almost all of the first-team reps at center Monday.
Former Vikings WR Randy Moss was held without a reception against the Dolphins in a blowout win Monday night by New England. It was the first time in his Patriots career that he didn't catch at least one pass in a game.
Another former Viking, Saints safety Darren Sharper, said he expects to be back in the lineup when he is eligible to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list after New Orleans plays its sixth game of the season.
Yet another former Viking, Oakland running back Michael Bennett, has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.