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Justin Blackmon happy to put college rivalry aside to play with Sam Bradford

02.24.12 at 2:47 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon was asked to describe himself at Friday at the scouting combine.

“I’m a quiet and aggressive guy off the field,” Blackmon said.


“I don’t speak much,” he said.

Instead, Blackmon lets his play do the speaking for him. As a junior, he had 121 receptions for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns. Now, he is a good candidate to be drafted by the Rams second overall.

So, as an Oklahoma State alum, how would he feel catching passes from Oklahoma legend Sam Bradford in St. Louis? Just fine.

“Sam’s a good quarterback,” he said with a smile. “I’m sure we could put our differences aside.”

At 6-foot-0, 197 pounds, Blackmon isn’t the biggest receiver in a class full of bigger bodies, but he says he plays physical enough to make up for it. A reporter asked him about comparisons to 6-foot-5 Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, and Blackmon hopes they play the same way.

“He’s a big, physical guy,” Blackmon said, “and that’s how I like to play. I’m not as big as him ‘€¦ but I try to play as physical as I can.”

Blackmon won’t run the 40-yard dash due to a tender hamstring, but he says that when he does run at Oklahoma State’s pro day, he’ll be faster than people expect. He says he’s run in the 4.5 and 4.4 range. He isn’t known for his speed, so if he has it, that will be a plus.

The question may become whether the Rams opt for help at receiver or the line with USC left tackle Matt Kalil. Blackmon hopes to leave them with an easy choice.

Read More: 2012 combine, 2012 NFL Draft, Justin Blackmon,

Robert Griffin III insists he’s a passer first, hopes Colts don’t pass first

02.24.12 at 2:35 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III has been rocking crazy socks since he was a sophomore in high school.

“I’ve got on Ninja Turtles on today,” Griffin said, pulling up his pant leg to reveal his socks.

Ranked as this draft’s second-best quarterback, Griffin won’t be knocking anybody’s socks off this weekend at the combine. He’s chosen not to throw, a decision he made based on the unfamiliarity he has with the receivers with whom he’d be working.

Yet despite his decision not to throw, the Heisman winner wants everyone that he will throw — and throw often — in the NFL.

“I think there’s just a misconception that comes with being a dual-threat quarterback that you run first and throw second,” he said. “I think I’ve proven that I’m throw-first and then will run if I need to.”

In his redshirt junior year, Griffin amassed 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns in the air and 699 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. He can obviously excel with his feet, but what about when he gets to the next level? Successful college scrambling quarterbacks have had a harder time relying on their feet in the NFL. Luckily for Griffin, he doesn’t think of himself that way.

“I’m a quarterback, so I’ve just got the throw the ball,” he said. “Running’s extra.”

Griffin measured in at 6-foot-2 3/8 and 223 pounds, and we have him projected to go fourth overall to the Browns in our mock draft. He said he believes he is the best quarterback in the draft, and that though he has lots of respect for Stanford’s Andrew Luck, he wants to be the top pick. He hasn’t heard from the Colts yet, but he expects to.

“As competitors, we both want to be the best. Whether I go No. 1 or not, it’s not going to change who I am, it’s not going to change my confidence. But I’d be a fool to say I don’t want to go No. 1 in the draft.”

The 22-year-old said he looks forward to explaining Baylor’s offense to the NFL teams. He played out of the shotgun a lot, but feels he’s just fine under center.

“[I want to show them] that our offense isn’t simple, that it’s not the traditional spread, where we’re in shotgun all the time’€¦ although we are in shotgun a lot. So was Tom Brady and Eli Manning in the Super Bowl, but that’s beside the point,” he said with a grin. “Just that it’s not a simple offense. I’m not going to try to make it seem difficult, but I’ll explain it to them.”

Read More: 2012 combine, 2012 NFL Draft, Robert Griffin III,

Michael Floyd out to prove he’s a changed man

02.24.12 at 1:30 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL combine is a time for prospects to answer questions. They run the 40-yard dash to answer questions about speed, and they bench to answer questions about strength. Yet the hardest questions are the ones they can’t answer on the field or in the weight room.

Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd knows exactly what that’s like, as he just finished meeting with the media. The vast majority of the questions asked were about his alcoholism, as the star receiver was arrested three times for alcohol-related incidents while in college. The most recent one came last March, when he was arrested for driving under the influence and suspended from the team before eventually being reinstated by coach Brian Kelly.

“I’m comfortable in the position to answer anything. It’s just about answering the questions and moving forward,” Floyd said Friday.

So what has Floyd told teams that have asked?

“That you grow from it, that it’s behind you, that it’s a mistake that happened in the past and that I’m moving forward,” he said.

Kelly made Floyd take classes designed for students with alcohol problems, and Floyd feels they’ve paid off. When NFL teams see him, he wants them to see a first-round receiver, and not just another player with character issues.

“I think I’ve grown a lot,” Floyd said. “Coming to the NFL now, I think you do have to mature a great deal, because you can get behind in a lot of things. ‘€¦ This is a professional [league], and you’ve got to act like a professional.”

On the field, Floyd is perhaps the third-best receiving prospect in the draft behind Oklahoma State’s Justin Blackmon and Baylor’s Kendall Wright. His 37 touchdown receptions are the most in Notre Dame history, and has good size at 6-foot-2 and 220. He also has big hands and experience in a pro style offense from when Charlie Weis was there.

“Pro style offense is a lot different from [that of] coach Kelly being in the spread,” he said. “Being in this position now, going to the NFL, I think coach Weis is more into the NFL schemes and stuff like that. It’s good that I learned both of them and I have a little bit of experience in both.”

Read More: 2012 combine, 2012 NFL Draft, Michael Floyd,

Jeff Fisher talks about Albert Haynesworth, Randy Moss and playing the Patriots in England

02.24.12 at 1:10 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — The names of two former Patriots were bought up at the NFL scouting combine in Friday, as new Rams coach Jeff Fisher was asked about defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and wide receiver Randy Moss joining him in St. Louis.

Fisher actually has a history with both of them: Haynesworth played for Fisher when he was head coach in Tennessee from 2002 until 2008. Haynesworth enjoyed his best seasons with Fisher while both with the Titans, with the defensive tackle leaving as a free agent after a standout 2008 season. Meanwhile, Moss was with Fisher and the Titans for a portion of the 2010 season.

‘€œThere’€™s some unrestricted free agents out there now that are not under contract that we’€™ve been talking about. He’€™s one of them,’€ Fisher said when asked about Haynesworth. ‘€œWhether we do anything about it remains to be seen.’€

Haynesworth was picked up by the Patriots last offseason, but released on Nov. 8. He was picked up by Tampa Bay two days later, but was placed on waivers earlier this month.

Fisher sounded a similarly lukewarm note about Moss, who announced a comeback attempt earlier this month.

‘€œThere are a number of players we are considering,’€ Fisher said. ‘€œYou guys know my familiarity with Randy — I thought he was great for our locker room.’€

Fisher also got off a good line when he was asked about playing the Patriots in England in 2012.

‘€œWhen it was announced, we were very excited. We think it’€™s a great opportunity,’€ he said. He then waited a beat and added, ‘€œIf you’€™re going to play the Patriots, it’€™s best not to play them in North America.

‘€œI think it’€™s a great opportunity for us. There were a number of clubs that were disappointed that they didn’€™t get the opportunity. We’€™re in the early stages of evaluating it, and talking to some of the clubs (with past experience) and how they did it and what’€™s most convenient for the players.’€

Fisher was asked about wide receiver free agent-to-be Brandon Lloyd, who has been linked to the Patriots.

‘€œThere are a number of [unrestricted free agents] we’€™re interested in keeping,’€ Fisher said. ‘€œHe would be one of them.’€

Read More: 2012 combine, Albert Haynesworth, Brandon Lloyd, Jeff Fisher

Stephen Hill doesn’t have the body of work, but has the body and mindset Patriots need at wide receiver

02.24.12 at 11:48 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — This year’s draft class is full of big-bodied wide receivers, and for a Patriots team that needs one badly, that’s a good sign.

The Pats have two picks in each of the first two rounds, and while they could get someone like Rueben Randle or Alshon Jeffery in the first round, one interesting second-round option might be Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill.

Hill, who measured in Friday at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, brings a lot to the table. Playing in an option offense, he didn’t put up insane numbers in college (as a junior he posted career highs with 28 receptions for 820 yards and five touchdowns), but it made him into a good blocker. He also has outstanding speed, as he’s hoping for a time in the low 4.4’s or 4.3 range in the 40-yard-dash. In the past, he’s been timed as low as 4.30. He’s a big receiver, but he hopes to be quick and nimble at the next level.

“I look more at small wideouts because I want to be that 6-foot-4 wide receiver playing a 5-foot-10,” he said. “Coming out of my breaks, that’s my biggest thing that I’m trying to work on now.”

Hill hopes to follow in the footsteps of Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, both of whom were receivers at Georgia Tech before becoming stars in the NFL. Playing at Georgia Tech means less numbers and more blocking, and for a position that has been known to have divas, it means pushing the egos aside.

“It really wasn’t frustrating,” he said. “Yes, you’re a route receiver and you’re greedy and you want to get the ball, but any time you’re helping out a team [it doesn’t matter], because I’m a winner and I like to win. Any time you want to help out a team, that’s a big thing.”

Added Hill: “They’re all looking for receivers that can block also.”

That type of attitude could strike a chord with the Patriots. Tom Brady likes to spread the ball around, and adding a big, fast and selfless receiver might help the Patriots in a clear position of need.

Hill said he’s stayed in touch with Thomas, who was a first-round pick for the Broncos in the 2010 draft. Thomas’ advice to Hill when the latter was considering leaving school for the NFL was clear.

Recalled Hill: “He said, “If you’re going to make that step [to the NFL], you’d better go ahead and do it, because this is a man’s game.”

Read More: 2012 combine, 2012 NFL Draft, Stephen Hill,

Agent: Andre Carter ‘ahead of schedule’ on rehab, would welcome return to Patriots

02.24.12 at 11:44 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Andre Carter‘€™s agent Carl Poston indicated Friday morning that the defensive end is ‘€œahead of schedule’€ on his rehab, and he has already held preliminary discussions with the Patriots about a possible return to New England in 2012.

Carter, who finished with a team-high 22 quarterback pressures and 10 sacks in 14 games before going down with a season-ending left quad injury in December, was on a one-year deal with the Patriots. But it certainly appears that the 32-year-old is open to returning next season.

‘€œHe’€™s rehabbing. He’€™s in good shape. He wants to play,’€ Poston said of Carter. ‘€œWe’€™re just kind of monitoring and tracking his injury, and when it’€™s time to talk, they’€™re going to let me know.

‘€œI just called them to see what their plans were, to see if they were interested, and I would have been surprised if they said they weren’€™t interested. Obviously, they said they were interested but it’€™s a little premature, a little early, and I understood that. In terms of being a professional and doing my job, I just wanted to kind of call them and see where we stood.’€

On Twitter, Carter has indicated several times that he really enjoyed his season with the Patriots, and New England coach Bill Belichick praised Carter several times over the course of the season as a ‘€œconsistent, high-effort player.’€

‘€œI think he’€™s performed well all year. I really do,’€ Belichick said of Carter in October, shortly before a four-sack game against the Jets. ‘€œI think he’€™s had a really solid year for us. I think he’€™s performed well pretty much since the first training camp practice. He’€™s a very consistent, high-effort player, strong, experienced, knows what he’€™s doing, very professional. He’€™s been really consistent.’€

Poston said that Carter enjoyed his season in New England.

‘€œI think that everything turned out the way we wanted, except for the injury,’€ he said. ‘€œHe wanted to go to a quality team and obviously, New England is that. He wanted to go to a contender. He wanted to go to a team where he could work well in the system and go to the Pro Bowl. All those things happened. It’€™s just that he got hurt. That’€™s part of the game.

‘€œI hate to put it in football terms, but it’€™s like carrying the ball, and you’€™re on the five-yard line, and the time runs out. He didn’€™t get a chance to carry it over the goal line — in spirit, he did, But I would like to think that if he were healthy, it would have made a difference in the Super Bowl because it was such a close game. I just think that Andre would have made that kind of difference, because he’€™s a difference maker.’€

Poston indicated that Carter could be even better than he was in 2012.

‘€œHe’€™s in good shape. He’€™s in good shape. He’€™s ahead in his rehab,’€ he said. ‘€œIt’€™s not the kind of injury … it’€™s not like a lower back or a knee where he’€™s not going to be able to come back. He’€™s going to come back 100 percent. As a matter of fact, he might even be stronger.’€

Read More: 2012 combine, Andre Carter, Bill Belichick, Carl Poston

John Elway hopes Tim Tebow is the starter for ‘a long, long time’

02.24.12 at 11:05 am ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — John Elway took the podium Friday morning at Lucas Oil Stadium, and all it took was one question for the whole room to start laughing.

Tim Tebow. Your thoughts?”

“What took so long?” Elway responded with a grin.

The now second-year executive vice president of football operations knows that it’s all about Tebow, the polarizing quarterback who neither he nor current head coach John Fox drafted. Tebow may not have been their guy, but he led the Broncos to a 9-7 record and a playoff appearance after the season looked like it was going down the drain with Kyle Orton.

“For him to come in and start from 1-4, he added a great spark for us, and we’re really happy with the way things happened to us,” Elway said. “I was real happy with his progress. I know Tim’s going to work hard this offseason and we’re hoping that he’s going to be the guy for a long, long time.”

The Broncos would like to add another quarterback in the draft, and it’s likely they’ll spend a pick on a more conventional quarterback.

“When I look at Tim and I look at our offense, we can go with either one, whether it be a guy like Tim, or if it’s more like a drop-back type guy,” Elway said of which type of signal-caller the Broncos could go after. “We feel like either one is going to be a good fit.”

Still, Tebow is the starter. His mobility and lack of proper mechanics make him far different from your normal pocket-passer, but it’s also part of why he’s been successful. Elway knows they need to tinker with his mechanics and how he plays, but he doesn’t want to take away from what’s made him a winner.

“I don’t know that you look at it as [Tebow needing to be] more conventional,” he said. “I think there’s things that we have to get him to do within our offense to be more successful as an offense. Obviously we look at what we did last year and Tim’s strengths. There’s no question he’s able to run the football, he’s a big guy, physical and likes to run it.

“I think [offensive coordinator] Mike McCoy and the offensive staff did a tremendous job trying to play to Tim’s strengths. We’ll continue to that, but also want some strides in Tim and his ability to get better [at] throwing the football down the field and in the pocket. Really, that’s something we have to do to get better as an offense. To be able to add that threat there makes everything else he does that much better.”

Read More: 2012 combine, John Elway, Tim Tebow,
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