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NFL Combine: Day 4

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 26, 2012 – 8:45 AM

10:44 a.m. EST – The media crowd has thinned at the Combine today just as the skill players begin working out. We’ll interview DBs today and a few stray LBs, including SDSU’s Miles Burris.

North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins answers questions about his three arrests, marijuana use and getting kicked out of the University of Florida candidly. He has turned his life around because he wants a better life for his mom and kids.

1:41 p.m. EST – Coastal Carolina CB Josh Norman is trying to become the next Chanticleers player to make it in the NFL. He follows “Big Mike” Tolbert closely.

LSU CB Morris Claiborne believes he's worthy of the No. 2 overall pick. Says former Georgia WR A.J. Green was the toughest he faced in college.

3:59 p.m. EST – Clemson DT Brandon Thompson made the mistake of telling a college teammate he doesn’t like yams. His friend began calling him “Yams,” something his head coach repeated during spring practice and the nickname stuck. Thompson is OK with it, but “I still don’t like yams.”

4:44 p.m. EST – NFL Network’s Mike Mayock tells the media the defensive tackle class is deep this year and the tight end class is weak.

Alabama S Mark Barron will not work out because of his double hernia surgery, which he does not feel will hurt his draft stock. Barron believes he's worthy of a first-round pick.

5:28 p.m. EST – That’s it from Indianapolis. Check Chargers.com for the stories, which are hovering around double digits in numbers. I’ll have position-by-position previews leading to April’s draft as well as more on San Diego’s defensive focus and priorities according to General Manager A.J. Smith and Head Coach Norv Turner in the coming weeks.

Stay true and keep pounding,

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NFL Combine: Day 3

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 25, 2012 – 10:26 AM

12:21 p.m. EST – I spent the morning getting caught up on transcriptions from the last two days, starting a new round of stories and eating a roast beef sandwich. Now it’s time to roll out some content.

On-field workouts have started this morning as OL do positional drills and run. Georgia G/T Cordy Glenn, the heaviest player here at 345 pounds, clocked 4.96 seconds in the 40-yard dash. More telling would be his splits at 10 and 20 yards, which I don’t have, but not bad athleticism for a large man.

South Carolina DE Melvin Ingram measured 6-foot-1, 264 pounds. He's been working as a 3-4 OLB in drills with Von Miller and feels "it's like second nature."

12:56 p.m. – Glenn’s official time has been adjusted to 5.15 seconds, still solid (sixth among OL). Stanford G David DeCastro ran a 5.43.

1:08 p.m. – Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox blocked four kicks in college. Says it started in practice, where he blocked more than that. Cox also says he ran the 400-meter relay in high school and weighed 240.

DT Dontari Poe measured 6-foot-4, 346. Thought to be a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, Poe will aim for 40 bench press reps during his workout.

 1:52 p.m. EST – Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus led the nation with 16 sacks in 2011. Says he’s answering questions about being a one-year wonder.

Mercilus, a college teammate of San Diego's 2011 first-round pick Corey Liuget, says he interviewed with the Chargers among other teams last night.

2:10 p.m. EST – Oklahoma TE James Hanna, listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds in college, ran an unofficial time of 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Louisiana-Lafayette TE Ladarius Green ran 4.47 seconds unofficially.

2:25 p.m. EST – Will speak to Head Coach Norv Turner in half an hour. Timing may not be good, as we’re expecting a rush of the top LBs and DL soon.

2:33 p.m. EST – Penn State DT Devon Still: “I think I’m the best defensive tackle in the draft, hands down.”

3:34 p.m. EST – Pertinent information from Turner:

“We were 32nd in the league on third-down defense. What constitutes playing good third-down defense? Obviously it’s pass defense and there’s two elements.

“It’s how well you pressure the quarterback, and if you can add players who can pressure the quarterback and then help them with the type of scheme we run, those two things are big to me, and certainly the coverage people, the two people that we identified we need to get better are covering the slot and the nickel linebacker to cover backs and tight ends.

“Those are areas I would think as we look and evaluate players, those guys will be of big interest.”

4:26 p.m. EST – A flood of players. USC DE Nick Perry is 6-foot-2 and has gained about 10 pounds to 270. Says he prefers to play 4-3 with his hand in the ground and hasn’t spent much time working on OLB drills.

His teammate, LB Chris Galippo, called former position coach and now San Diego LB coach Joe Barry a great coach.

“Just one of the best teachers I’ve ever been around,” Galippo said. “A lot of coaches are great coaches. Joe Barry’s just a teacher. He knows the game so well.”

6:18 p.m. EST – That’s it for tonight. I’ll have a pair of stories on Chargers.com soon and I’ll have a lot more tomorrow.

Stay true and keep pounding,

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NFL Combine: Day 2

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 24, 2012 – 8:26 AM

9:03 a.m. EST – Good morning from a somewhat blustery Indianapolis. On the docket for today: QBs, RBs, WRs and some stray OL. I’ll also visit the Chargers’ suite in Lucas Oil Stadium as workouts begin. Check back for quotes from A.J. Smith and Norv Turner.

10:25 a.m. EST – Andrew Luck measured at 6-foot-4, 238 pounds today. Robert Griffin III is 6-foot-2 3/8, 223 pounds. Both are favorable figures for the top to projected QBs in the draft.

10:42 a.m. EST – Denver executive John Elway speaks to the media and gets bombarded with Tim Tebow questions. Hopes Tebow will be the Broncos’ QB for a “long, long time.” San Diego is 2-1 against Tebow, though they’ve faced him just twice as a starter.

10:47 a.m. EST – The NFL invited fans to Super Bowl media day this season for the first time. Now they’re inviting a select group of 250 to watch Combine drills. Players may begin competing against one another in the bench press and 40-yard dash. Thoughts?

11:14 a.m. EST – Among the rush of players due for interviews today: Wisconsin C Peter Konz, Stanford G David DeCastro, Georgia G Cody Glenn and Florida State T Zebrie Sanders. All four are projected high-round picks at positions the Chargers still need to figure out. (Many of the top OL spoke yesterday, including T Matt Kalil, T Riley Reiff and T Jonathan Martin.)

San Diego may or may not have a need at OL by the draft, but the team will continue to evaluate and discuss the candidates at the Combine this week.

11:38 a.m. EST – Reaction to the NFL floating the idea about turning the 40-yard dash into a competitive event between prospects: “I would love that,” Miami receiver Travis Benjamin said.

1:02 p.m. EST – Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd is being frank and open about “mistakes” he made out of “immaturity” earlier in his college career. Says he took alcohol counseling classes this year and changed the environment around him on the advice of former coach Brian Kelly.

1:26 p.m. EST – Baylor WR Kendall Wright measured 5-foot-10. Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller measured taller than 6-foot-4, but a stress fracture will prevent him from doing drills at the Combine. He and QB Ryan Tannehill will stage a workout March 25.

1:45 p.m. EST – The room is now flooded with prospects, including Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. The Baylor QB had the media chuckling on several occasions. Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon also talking now.

Asked about Cam Newton comparisons, Griffin says he has more experience throwing the ball out of college. Says Newton is bigger and more elusive, but considers himself faster. Also says Newton's confidence is "off the charts. I try to keep mine on the charts," but it's still high.

5:57 p.m. EST – Sorry for the delay between posts — most all of the QBs, RBs and WRs at the Combine now have come through the media room. SDSU QB Ryan Lindley, who will work out Sunday, is anxious to show improved accuracy in the time since the Senior Bowl.

Alabama RB Trent Richardson still thinks the NFL’s top RB deserves a high-round pick (see Chargers.com soon for more on that). Stanford QB Andrew Luck drew more than 200 media members.

6:06 p.m. EST – As far as the Chargers go, I talked to A.J. Smith in the team suite around lunch time. He explained which positions are more valuable around Philip Rivers — OL, RB or TE/WR? Smith also discussed the move to trade up for Ryan Mathews in 2010, a contrary move in an era where RBs no longer command top-round draft picks.

Smith also discussed the team’s effort to find healthy players and why despite good information it doesn’t always work out. Check Chargers.com soon for related stories.

Stay true and keep pounding,

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NFL Combine: Day 1

Posted by Christopher Smith on February 23, 2012 – 7:06 AM

8:49 a.m. EST – The media room on the east side of Lucas Oil Stadium is packed with laptops, recorders and bodies, many of whom are discussing plane flights and power strips. We’re still awaiting the arrival of players, which will begin to trickle toward the three podiums in the next few hours.

For us on the West Coast, it’s early. My laptop read 5:15 a.m. when I booted it this morning. It might not help that the only nourishment I had yesterday was a cup of Auntie Anne’s cinnamon sugar nuggets and a steak burger in the Indianapolis airport.

Punters, kickers, offensive line and tight ends will speak at podiums like this one beginning today as more than 700 credentialed media feast themselves.

10:35 a.m. EST – General Manager A.J. Smith talked with Sirius Radio this morning about several topics. Says the team will pursue C Nick Hardwick and will talk to G Kris Dielman about his future when the team returns from the Combine. Also confirms the team is “working our way through” medical issues with Marcus McNeill.

10:44 a.m. EST – Smith also says the team “would love” to have WR Vincent Jackson return. Doesn’t think using the franchise tag is a likely option because of the high price it would require, which would infringe on the Chargers’ other needs.

Smith admitted he “had some issues” with Jackson’s off-field behavior in the past, but “I’m comfortable with where we are now.” Says Jackson’s status with the Chargers likely depends on the market he and his agents feel they can get from other teams. San Diego still wants him at receiver.

General Manager A.J. Smith speaks with Sirius Radio.

 11:19 p.m. EST – Spoke to John Spanos, director of college scouting, in the lobby at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“We want to get better at rushing the passer,” Spanos said. “I think if you look at this year’s draft class, there are a lot of talented pass rushers out there. It’s a pretty deep class.”

We have our first player, South Dakota T Tom Compton.

11:35 a.m. EST – Georgia P Drew Butler can become part of the second father-son NFL kicking specialist combo in history. Butler’s father, Kevin Butler, played 13 seasons for the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals.

The only father-son NFL kickers? No, not the Gramatica family — English place-kickers Bobby and Ian Howfield.

1:39 p.m. EST – San Diego State P Brian Stahovich talked about the difference between a “degrading” 2-10 season as a freshman and winning a combined 17 games his last two years with the Aztecs.

Stahovich also has worked with Chargers P Mike Scifres, who gave him a basic lesson in Australian rules kicking. Says he would love to be in camp with San Diego.

2:28 p.m. EST – All the punters and kickers have come through the media room, along with a few handfuls of offensive linemen. Still, it’s been slow. That usually means a deluge is around the corner.

USC T Matt Kalil predicted current Trojans QB Matt Barkley will win the Heisman in 2012.

 2:48 p.m. EST – Kalil on declaring for the NFL as a junior: “I’ve done all I can at USC. I was All-American. I won the Morris Trophy. It was definitely time for me to move on and take my skills to the next level.”

4:02 p.m. EST – Pittsburgh G Luke Nix: “I used to be missing my two front teeth up until two years ago. My mom made me get false teeth put in. I used to walk around looking like a real football player.” Got them knocked out in a bike accident when he was young.

5:29 p.m. EST – That’s it from Lucas Oil Stadium for today. Kind of a light day. Several prominant offensive linemen did not reach the media room today, so tomorrow should be loaded. The skill players should talk Friday, including SDSU QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ronnie Hillman.

Stay true and keep pounding,

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