HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) – Running for 1,000 yards used to be a bigger milestone in the NFL.

The New York Jets don’t really care. Not when they are trying to get Curtis Martin there. With no championships to play for, coach Herman Edwards has made it clear one of the biggest goals for the remainder of the season is to get Martin to 1,000.

Should Martin get it, he will become the first running back to start a career with 11 straight 1,000 yard seasons. Martin needs 294 yards, starting Sunday against New England. That averages out to 58.8 yards a game, an attainable number for the 32-year-old back.

“Ordinarily 1,000 yards is not a big deal in the NFL it just means you’ve been healthy enough to carry the ball. But given the adversity that we’ve had to go through and the fact that he’s done it 10 times prior that’s what really makes this mark so special if we can get it for him,” center Pete Kendall said.

Martin already has reached one milestone, becoming the fourth player in NFL history to run for more than 14,000 yards, a feat accomplished last week against New Orleans. He had 91 yards in that game, but has just one 100-yard game this season, 148 yards against Buffalo in Week 6.

In typical fashion, Martin deflected any praise for reaching 14,000 yards.

“I feel the celebrating will come when I’m done with football and it will be something I will be able to look back on and appreciate. I appreciate it now, but I think it will mean even more to me when I’m done playing,” Martin said.

There are some that believe he is close to reaching that stage. Last weekend, former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson said Martin was “done.” Coach Herman Edwards refused to comment on that statement, and Martin says he feels he has “some good years” left in him.

Whether the Jets feel the same remains to be seen. With a potential shot at Reggie Bush – depending on their draft position – the Jets might feel the need to pick him and let Martin go, especially with Martin due to count $8.1 million against the salary cap next season.

For now, Edwards is focused on getting Martin to 1,000. He addressed the team last week about the importance of reaching that mark. Martin, who shies away from drawing attention to himself, was surprised that Edwards made such an announcement.

“That’s a big accomplishment for him personally, and it would be a great accomplishment for this football team and for the guys that are on this team,” Edwards said. “I told them about it. We’ve got a couple goals down the road here: to win some games, obviously, for our players to get better and, obviously, for Curtis Martin to set this record.”

When Martin ran for 1,697 yards last season, he was relatively healthy and had a good offensive line. This season, Martin has played with an injured knee and a new line practically every week. Kendall, who moved from guard after Kevin Mawae got hurt, said the road has been harder this year because of all the lineup shuffling.

It has been frustrating for Martin, who felt he was in the best shape of his life going into training camp. Nonetheless, he still has a chance to make history.

“In camp, I was making moves I was making when I was a rookie,” he said. “I was feeling as good as I ever felt. So I came into this season with very high expectations, very high goals. You have to learn to take the bad with the good sometimes and realize that it doesn’t always work out that way. But you dust yourself off and you get back and come back to fight game to game and year to year.”

AP-ES-12-01-05 1846EST


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.