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Cam Newton clarifies ‘icon’ comments

02.26.11 at 4:39 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Perhaps the biggest name at the NFL scouting combine Saturday in Cam Newton.

The Heisman-winning Auburn product entered Indianapolis with the task of both impressing teams in workouts and setting the country straight on his ego and priorities after being quoted earlier in the week as saying, “I see myself not only as a football player, but an entertainer and icon.”

Unlike any other prospect to speak thus far, Newton opened with a prepared statement:

“First and foremost, I understand that my obligation is to be the best possible football player that I can be. I know and believe that,” he said. “The recent comments were made during the announcement of my new endorsement partnership. I was making the point that I wanted to be the best possible ambassador for them, just like I want to be the best possible ambassador for whatever team I am lucky enough to play for. I’m excited to compete this week, and you will see me doing everything possible to become the best player that I can possibly be.

“First and foremost I’m blessed to be in this whole situation, and I couldn’t be in a better place right now than I am right now.”

Newton will fully participate in all workouts and drills, including passing, on Sunday. Assuming Newton, a very athletically gifted quarterback, wows the scouts, he figure to be a potential top-10 pick. With his talent not much of a question, the biggest thing many, and perhaps including teams looking at him, may wonder about is his midset.

“Football is my No. 1 priority. I want to make that perfectly clear,” he said. “But I’m just going to go into wherever organization that I’m picked up I’m going to be lucky, I’m going to be happy because this is a dream that I’ve always envisioned myself doing. And I will be lucky but at the same time this is something I am looking forward to.”

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton, NFL scouting combine,

Linebacker Casey Matthews looking to maintain the family name

02.26.11 at 4:13 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” Watching linebacker Clay Matthews the last couple of seasons, Patriots fans have played a tantalizing game of ‘€œWhat if?’€

In the 2009 draft, New England had a shot at the pass-rushing linebacker, but decided to deal the pick to the Packers. It was a trade that worked out very well for the Patriots ‘€” the deal would land them a combination of players that included Darius Butler, Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. But that didn’€™t stop people from wondering if Matthews could provide the sort of consistent pass rush New England has been lacking since the 2008 season.

When it comes to this year’€™s draft, don’€™t expect the same level of hype around Matthews’€™ younger brother Casey, an Oregon product who is working out this week at the NFL scouting combine. An inside linebacker (his brother is an outside linebacker) and father (another linebacker who played 19 years in the league), Matthews does have many of the earmarks of his older brother, including the long hair.

‘€œI think it’€™s just one of our trademarks,’€ he said with a smile.

While Casey might not have the polished pedigree of his older brother, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound inside linebacker had an excellent senior season for Oregon, the national runner-up. He was a first-team all-conference pick and All-America mention, finishing his senior season as the Ducks’€™ leading tackler, posting 79 stops. In addition, Matthews ‘€” the co-recipient of Oregon’€™s Most Outstanding Player award ‘€” tied for third in the league in fumble recoveries (3), was third on the team with three interceptions and fourth in tackles for loss with 9.0.

Casey said it’€™s his football instincts that separate him from his brother.

‘€œClay is more of an explosive athlete,’€ he said. ‘€œWe’€™re obviously different positions, but I think my position requires a little bit more of an instinctual side ‘€” just getting to the ball quick. I feel that’€™s part of my game that Clay still doesn’€™t have.’€

Matthews waited a beat, before adding with a smile.

‘€œHe has a pretty good game, though.’€

Casey acknowledges the pressure that comes with the family name, but at the same time, he says it’€™s nothing compared to what he expects of himself.

‘€œI put a lot of pressure on myself, just seeing the success my Dad had, my brother is having. I put pressure on myself just to get to their level,’€ Matthews said. ‘€œBut it’€™s not about me living up to the name. Although it would be nice to play at their level.’€

And what about the idea that teams who missed on his older brother would try and redeem themselves by taking him?

‘€œIf they want me, I’€™ll go,’€ Casey said. ‘€œI’€™ve heard that. A lot of people have come up to me and said, ‘€˜We missed on your brother. We hope we get you.’€™ Whatever happens on draft day, I’€™ll be happy.’€

Read More: Brandon Tate, Casey Matthews, Clay matthews, Darius Butler

Still playing a new sport, could Greg Romeus play a new position?

02.26.11 at 3:01 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Pittsburgh defensive end Greg Romeus hopes to be considered one of the better pass rushers in the NFL six years from now. Six years ago, he wasn’t even playing football.

“I was a basketball player, and a brand new school opened,” Romeus said of his high school days. “They needed guys to come out for the football team, so the football coach asked me if I would come out, and I came out and played.”

Romeus, who said “a few small schools” showed interest in him as a basketball player, ended up not playing the sport his senior year, his first year of football at Coral Glades High School.

“I wanted to play college basketball,” he said Saturday, “but that wasn’t the plan.”

Now, the question is whether Romeus, who came into Lucas Oil Stadium at 6-foot-4 7/8 and 264 pounds, could potentially make the switch to outside linebacker in a 3-4 system. He said that he’d “like to play whatever position,” whether it’s defensive end or linebacker.

“If that’s what the coaches want me to play,” he said of standing up, “I could play it.

“We dropped into coverage a little bit at Pitt,” Romeus added. “It would be something I would work on, but I feel comfortable doing it. I feel like I’m agile enough to do that.”

Where Romeus finds himself at a disadvantage compared to other 4-3 ends potentially transitioning is the fact that he is nursing an injury in the time the others are working on positional drills. Romeus played in just two games of his senior season due to back and knee injuries. Coming off knee surgery, Romeus said he just recently started running and will only be able to lift at his March 10 Pro Day. He had seven and eight sacks as a sophomore and junior, respectively, and if injury/experience concerns make him fall considerably, the Patriots could take a flier on him.

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Greg Romeus, NFL scouting combine,

Da’Quan Bowers not working out

02.26.11 at 2:10 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers knows that there’s something about him that makes him the best prospect in this year’s NFL draft.

“I don’t know what it is,” Bowers said Saturday, “but hopefully the coaches see it, and they can pick me before they pick the rest of those guys.”

Whatever “it” is, it won’t be on display here at Lucas Oil Stadium. Bowers said Saturday that he will not work out due to a surgically repaired meniscus. He will work out at Clemson’s Pro Day on March 1o.

Bowers tore the meniscus in his right knee on one of his 16 sacks during his junior season, but waited until after the season to repair it. The fact that team’s won’t get a look at him on the field this week ultimately shouldn’t hurt him, as he’s received comparisons to some of the better pass-rushers to ever play in the NFL.

“Just to be noticeable in the same sentence as those guys is amazing,” Bowers said. “Any time anybody can put you in the same sentence with Reggie White and Bruce Smith, you must be doing something right.”

Read More: 2011 NFL Draft, Da'Quan Bowers, NFL scouting combine,

Anthony Castonzo’s combine is working out so far

02.26.11 at 1:34 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo came to Indianapolis with perhaps a slight edge over the other offensive linemen in this year’s draft class, and after making a positive impression with the media on Thursday, he didn’t disappoint in his workout.

Castonzo did 28 reps of 225 pounds when bench-pressing, and posted an official time of 5.23 in the 40-yard-dash. Linemen will continue to work out throughout the day, so more results are still to come.

Read More: Anthony Castonzo, NFL scouting combine,

Scott Pioli: This is a good draft for defensive ends and outside linebackers

02.26.11 at 1:30 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” While no members of the Patriots’€™ braintrust are scheduled to address the media this weekend here at the NFL scouting combine, the next best thing for New England reporters who are on the scene in Indianapolis is hearing from Scott Pioli. To that end, the Chiefs GM, who made his bones working for Bill Belichick and the Patriots from 2000 through 2009 , was asked Saturday morning about the crop of defensive end/outside linebackers ‘€” an area the Patriots are expected to target ‘€” that are available in this year’€™s draft.

‘€œI think it’€™s a really good draft [for] some of the guys are defensive ends in a 4-3 or outside linebackers or potentially outside linebackers in the 3-4 defense. This is a strong class. This is a strong group of players,’€ Pioli said. ‘€œRegardless of the defense, there’€™s players who can help every defense in the National Football League at those positions.’€

However, Pioli cautioned that you can’€™t read too much into how they’€™d succeed until you see them work out, both this week at the combine and in individual workouts.

‘€œSome of those guys who are defensive ends who have had their hands in the dirt so to speak, really, you haven’€™t seen them drop [into coverage],’€ Pioli said. ‘€œThis is why it’€™s a critical time to work those players out ‘€” not that you’€™re going to know everything about their ability to drop into coverage, but you have to be able to look at them and see what their physical skills are when you go on campus and work them out or see them work out here. And there’€™s also the other part that you can’€™t really tell until he’€™s on your football team if he has the instincts and the awareness and the spatial awareness as a coverage guy.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, NFL scouting combine, Scott Pioli,

Cameron Jordan: ‘The Patriots are a phenomenal team. I feel like they’re one of the good teams in the NFL’

02.26.11 at 1:00 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS ‘€” If Cal defensive lineman Cameron Jordan has already spoken to the Patriots, he’€™s doing a good job disguising it.

It’€™s believed that the engaging Jordan, who held court with the media here at the NFL scouting combine on Saturday morning for nearly 10 minutes, could provide the New England defense with a jolt if the Patriots decide to take him with one of their first two first-round selections. Jordan’€™s versatility and body type ‘€” the 6-foot-4, 287-pounder was a defensive lineman in college who could make the transition to outside linebacker in New England’€™s 3-4 defensive scheme ‘€” could make him awfully attractive to the Patriots at either No. 17 or No. 28. (Several mock drafts have him going to New England at No. 17.)

But if Jordan has already talked with Bill Belichick and the rest of the New England braintrust, he’€™s not telling.

‘€œI’€™ve talked to a plethora of teams, and it’€™s been pleasing just having the experience of talking to them,’€ Jordan said with a knowing smile when asked about the Patriots. ‘€œThe Patriots are a phenomenal team. I feel like they’€™re one of the good teams in the NFL. I’€™d just like to be part of [any] team.’€

Jordan, who said he’€™s ‘€œalways a happy guy ‘€” I usually wear a smile around, 24/7’€ says that he hits a ‘€œswitch’€ on game days.

‘€œIf you see my film, I’m hitting people. I’€™m laying people out,’€ Jordan said with a chuckle. ‘€œActually, there’s sort of a switch because I still have the smile on my face, but it’s all for a different mode. It’ll put the biggest smile on me to hit a quarterback and hear the wind come out of his chest. That just pleases me the most.’€

Jordan appears to have the physique to be either a defensive end or outside linebacker in a 3-4, but would likely have to either gain or shed weight to make that happen at the NFL level.

‘€œIf I’€™m seen more as a three-technique, I have to add some weight. Depending on whether I’€™m a defensive end or not, I might have to add or gain or lose or stay,’€ Jordan said. ‘€œI’€™ve gained weight. I’€™ve been up around 295 at my heaviest, and then I came into college at 265. I’€™ve played through different weights.’€

The son of former Minnesota Vikings tight end Steve Jordan, a six-time Pro Bowler who played collegiately at Brown, Jordan joked Saturday about wanting to ‘€œadvance’€ the family name. He said he plans on doing that by any means necessary.

‘€œMy motto is, ‘€˜Draft me and I’€™ll play anywhere. I don’€™t care where I play. I just want to be on a team. I just want to play football.’€™ That’€™s what I love doing. That’€™s what I hope to continue doing,’€ he said. ‘€œI have shown that I can stand up. I can play the three technique. I can play the five technique. Like I said ‘€” put me anywhere, and I’€™ll play.’€

Read More: Bill Belichick, Cameron Jordan, NFL scouting combine, Steve Jordan
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