If Thomas Jones runs for 50 yards against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, it will be the second-quickest he's reached the mark in his career, behind his 2005 season — the year his Chicago Bears made it to the Super Bowl.
"It's a blessing anytime you can run for 1,000 yards in this league," said Jones. "It's pretty hard to do. There are some great defenses."
And many defenses have had a hard time stopping Jones, on pace to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark for his fourth consecutive season. In 2004 he was 52 yards shy of breaking a thousand, but also had an outstanding career high of 427 yards receiving.
"My offensive line and my fullback have done a great job this year blocking," he said. "If a running back gets a thousand yards, it's not his accomplishment – it goes to the whole offense and everybody that contributed to it."
Jones' team-first approach along with a fierce work ethic are just some traits that make him popular in the Jets locker room.
"They're a great offensive line," said Jones. "We have a really good relationship on the field, a really good relationship off the field and in the locker room, around the facility. We're all friends and that helps make it a lot easier for us. We care about each other. I make sure that they know where I want to run and they make sure that I know where they're going to block."
With five games left to play, Jones has already tied his career high for rushing touchdowns with nine and surpassed his career high for total touchdowns with 11 this season.
"He's having an outstanding year," said Jets head coach Eric Mangini. "We felt very good about Thomas when we brought him in here. He's a guy that we had identified for many reasons. One was his ability, but two was all the things that were said about him in the locker room, in the weight room, on the field, his toughness, his competitiveness.
"Those things are true this year and they were true last year and it's nice to see him having the year that he's having."
Early on, there was a general sense that, with all the new faces, consistency in the run game would take some time. The Jets were 28th in rushing yards per game after the first four games, so it's remarkable that the Jones-led RB unit has risen to eighth in the league heading into this weekend's games.
"Just playing together," said Jones on the keys to their success. "Developing the chemistry and understand how the next guy plays. It takes a little bit of time to develop that chemistry, but these guys that they've brought in have had great success in the past.
"D'Brickashaw [Ferguson] and Nick Mangold have done a great job of learning from these guys and stepping up and make sure that they're doing their job. They've had a great year, Nick and D'Brickashaw both, and I had a chance to play with them last year. I got to see how they block and they got to learn how I run, so it wasn't that big of an adjustment for them.
"But the new guys that came in, they brought a lot of leadership and a lot of success to the offense and to the line, and it's worked out well so far."
With the Jets coming off two impressive victories, Jones is focused on the Broncos and isn't giving any credence to the suggestion that Sunday could be a "trap game."
"Where we were last year, at 4-12 at the end of the season, we're in no place to look ahead and we're in no position to look past anybody," said Jones. "We're thankful for the season we're having so far and we just want to continue to have success and take each opponent one game at a time.
"They're going to come in here ready to play. They're leading their division. We've had success. We've been working really hard on the running game and working really hard on the schemes and knowing what we're supposed to do, and we've been able to execute. The coaches have done a great job of preparing us for each defense and what we're going to see, but that's just one game. We still have five more games left."