|Top prospect Jake Long uses discipline, craftiness to avoid penalties|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 21 February 2008 10:56|
``Absolutely. I'll admit that I hold,'' Long said with a laugh at the first day of the NFL scouting combine Thursday. ``I'll get my hands inside and hide it that I'm holding.''
Long, considered the best offensive lineman and one of the top prospects overall heading into the draft, was penalized for holding as a redshirt freshman and for a false start as a senior. Those were the only flags he drew in his career. He also gave up just two sacks.
He's proud of the discipline - and craftiness - he's shown in avoiding penalties.
``I think it is a skill if you can get away with it and not get caught,'' Long said. ``I try to make sure I get my hands inside every single play so that if I do hold a little bit the refs will not be able to see it.''
USC's Fred Davis just got too big to play wide receiver.
Recruited at that position, he switched to tight end once he reached 240 pounds as a sophomore. His specialty was blocking, but he still finished as the most productive tight end in USC football history. Heading into the NFL draft, Davis is projected as a first-round pick, the only one among all tight ends.
``It's crazy,'' he said Thursday of the attention he's getting. ``It's a lot different, a lot more media, a lot more attention. You've got to be ready to prove yourself at any time.''
Now up to 250 pounds, Davis finished with 1,408 yards receiving and 13 touchdown catches, all USC records for a tight end, and was a second-team All-American.
``I never thought about playing tight end,'' he said.
``I just focused on what I'm supposed to do as a player, and hopefully the best will happen for me. I really don't pay attention to that,'' he said of his projected spot in the draft.
A knee injury in the Senior Bowl will limit his workouts at the Combine.
``You still have a lot to improve. You never really perfect anything,'' he said. ``Even the guys in the league still have things they can do better. Definitely I feel I have lots of stuff I can still improve on.''
LOVIE ON TONY: Lovie Smith wants another chance against his old friend and mentor Tony Dungy.
Smith's Bears lost to Dungy's Indianapolis Colts in the 2007 Super Bowl, and the Chicago coach said Thursday he was pleased but not surprised Dungy decided to coach at least one more season.
``You need guys like Tony in the profession,'' Smith said at the NFL Scouting Combine, the annual pre-draft showcase of the top collegiate talent.
``Behind the scenes, you know how Tony is as a father ... that always takes precedence over anything else,'' said Smith, a former Dungy assistant at Tampa Bay. ``I'm just glad he is back, and looking forward to having a chance to compete against him in the future. We haven't had a whole lot of success right now, so we wanted him to come back for that reason, too.''
Dungy, who has two more years on his contract, seriously considered retirement at the end of last season after the Colts were upset 28-24 by the Chargers in an AFC divisional playoff game. After consulting family and friends, he decided to return for at least one more year, and the Colts named assistant Jim Caldwell as his eventual successor.
The Bears slipped to 7-9 last season and will pick 14th in the April 26-27 draft.
BUSY OFFSEASON: The New York Jets already have had a busy offseason.
First, they hired Bill Callahan to work with the offensive line. Next, they brought in former Bears assistant Kevin O'Dea as special teams coordinator, switched Mike Devlin to tight ends-assistant offensive line coach and Jerome Henderson to defensive backs coach.
Now, they're in Indy to evaluate the top college talent for this spring's draft.
``This is an important part of the process,'' Jets coach Eric Mangini said. ``One of the things I really enjoy at the combine is the chance to sit down with the players and to put a face to the name, talking about the things they've done, get a feel for who they are. This is a good time to learn about the people.''
The Jets (4-12) will pick sixth in the draft.
Mangini said Callahan's experience as a college and NFL coach gives the Jets a ``good mix'' on the coaching staff.
O'Dea, assistant special teams coach with Chicago the past two years, replaces Mike Westhoff, who stepped down after last season for surgery on his leg.
``It took a little while to get that guy in place, but it was a good process,'' Mangini said. ``Kevin's one of the most impressive guys I've met, not just being a special teams coach, but having that ability to work with kickers and punters and develop those players, and I thought that would be another asset for us.''
AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen contributed to this report.