Updated, 4:41 p.m. ET
Hidden beneath the obvious enormity of the Jets’ upcoming tilt with the Miami Dolphins on Sunday is a subplot that was not likely earlier in the season. RB Shonn Greene has rebounded beautifully from a rough start to 2011 by knocking on the door of his first 1,000-yard rushing season.
The first four games of the year were unkind to Greene. Over the first quarter of the campaign, he had 157 yards on 51 carries, a shade over 3.0 yards per tote. Since then, he’s averaged 4.5 yards per carry.
“He’s had a good year,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “When you look at him, he had some tough sledding early in the season but he started coming on. This is the time of year when he usually does the most damage. We hope to give him not only this opportunity on Sunday but more opportunities.”
It’s reasonable to think that the first 1,000-yard season of a young running back’s career would be a major milestone, but Greene didn’t even know exactly where he stood until he was told today that he’s at 999 yards. He admitted knowing he was close to the landmark but not that he was only one yard away.
“It doesn’t even matter,” said Greene. “We’re just trying to get this win. I’ve been saying that since I got here. We’re just trying to win games.”
In addition to Greene crossing the 1,000-yard barrier, another Jets tailback will attempt to add another accolade to his own legend. RB LaDainian Tomlinson is only 34 yards behind RB Jerome Bettis as the NFL’s fifth-leading rusher of all time.
Tomlinson is a free agent at the season’s end. Whether he stays, signs elsewhere or ultimately decides to retire, he has had profound impact on the younger Greene in his two-year tenure with the Jets.
“He means a lot to my success and to this team’s success,” said Greene. “He’s a Hall of Fame player. If he decides to hang it up, it’s too bad but it’s well-deserved. He’s done about everything you can as a running back in this league.”
The two backs will shoot for their respective benchmarks against a hungry Dolphins squad that no one in the locker room takes lightly.
“They’ve been playing hard lately,” said Greene. “Even though they don’t have a chance [for the playoffs], they’ve been playing hard. Teams like that are the most dangerous.”
Ryan and his team know the danger of travelling to Miami to play at Sun Life Stadium. Ryan wouldn’t go so far as to guarantee a victory over the Fish on Sunday. However, that didn’t prevent him from guaranteeing something else.
“I know how I am with my guarantees,” said Rex, “but I guarantee Shonn goes over 1,000.”
Dolphins RB Reggie Bush has been ruled out for Sunday’s game with a knee injury. Miami’s leading rusher finishes the season with a career-best 1,086 yards on the ground and added six rushing touchdowns. Today in Miami, interim coach Todd Bowles said “a combo of people” will fill in for Bush, among them Lex Hilliard, Steve Slaton and rookie Daniel Thomas.
Dolphins CB Jimmy Wilson is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury, and WR Clyde Gates, Miami’s kickoff returner, is questionable with a groin injury.
The Jets turn in a surprisingly clean bill of health for Week 17, with only one player listed as questionable. LB Garrett McIntyre injured his knee on the opening kickoff of last week’s game against the Giants, and practiced in a limited capacity on Friday after not having practiced at all earlier in the week. He will make the trip to South Florida and a decision will be made on his availability prior to gametime. In addition to his linebacking duties, McIntyre is a major contributor on special teams, where he has totaled 18 tackles this season.
All the other injured Jets are listed as probable for Sunday, including CB Antonio Cromartie (hamstring), who appeared on the injury report for the first time today and was limited during team drills.
Tags: Garrett McIntyre, LaDainian Tomlinson, Miami Dolphins, Reggie Bush, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene
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