INDIANAPOLIS – That blurry image you see on the right side of the picture is a lineman running his 40-yard dash. Yes, linemen run the 40 and take part in the field drills which can be seen on NFL Network.
49ers offensive line coach Mike Solari is leading the linemen through field drills at the moment. Meanwhile, in the media work room, writers are gearing up for another busy day. We’ll hear from the defensive linemen which are considered as the strength of this year’s draft class according to many draft experts.
If you haven’t caught up with all our combine coverage, don’t fret, you can read all the blogs and stories, watch the videos and check out photos at our combine central page.
11:00 AM Update
I’ve joked to a few peers about doing an “All Personality” team from the Combine and I think I found a starting defensive end (or outside linebacker) for the squad. Sam Acho of Texas certainly fits the requirements. He’s a pretty good football player too.
“I think hard work is going to allow me to be one of the best players,” said the Longhorn lineman who totaled 59 tackles, 17 tackles-for-loss, nine sacks, 18 pressures, five forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries last season.
Acho covered a number of topics ranging from his improved speed from rigorous training to his plans to help athletes with his marketing degree.
“I’d love to develop some marketing opportunities for athletes with different companies,” he said.
But for now, Acho is focused on showing teams he’s a versatile player, capable of playing as a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme or as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
“I’ll play wherever teams ask me to play,” Acho said. “I look forward to the challenge, I’m a competitor. I wouldn’t even call it a challenge really, I look at it as an opportunity to play linebacker and stand up.”
11:45 AM Update
Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Heyward (pictured above) just addressed the media as did Alabama lineman Marcell Dareus. Both were impressive and both talked about their influences. Heyward, son of former New Orleans Saints running Craig “Iron Head” Heyward, obviously gave props to his pops.
“He was a great player,” Cameron said. “I appreciate everything he’s done, but I’m not asking anyone to give me a second look or anything because my dad was Iron Head. They all know I have a big head just like him.”
Dareus talked about his fond memories of watching Warren Sapp playing defensive line. Watching Sapp inspired Dareus to become one of the best prospects at his position. “Watching Warren Sapp made me want to play,” he said.
1:00 PM Update
Stanford defensive lineman Sione Fua just spoke from the podium and had plenty of good things to say, certainly an impressive player on and off the field. He talked about bumping into Coach Jim Harbaugh and 49ers defensive coordinator Fic Fangio while in Indianapolis.
Fua weighed in at 308 pounds and said he’s been told by many teams he’ll need to add more weight. Fua said his focus pre-draft is to show teams how athletic he is for his size. “I’m focused on looking fluid in the drills, like an athlete,” he said. “Really, a lot of my training was focusing on the agility tests.”
Fua also shed some light on the expectations for defensive linemen in Fangio’s defensive scheme.
“You wanted to penetrate, but not penetrate through gaps,” Fua said. “You wanted to knock your guy back and get penetration pressing your man into the backfield. We played a 3-4 hybrid where I was playing both a shaded nose (tackle), head up and also as a three-technique. I’ve had experience all across the line.”
2:00 PM Update
NFL Network never ceases to amaze me with the things they come up with to better entertain the fans. This year, they’re rolling out “Helmet Cam” which will allow fans to experience drills, interviews and everything through the eyes of a player (or in this case, an NFL Network employee). Either way, it’s a great idea and makes me wonder if we could strap one on to an intern next year for training camp.
3:00 PM Update
Ryan Mallett hasn’t run his 40 yet, but the Arkansas quarterback displayed some quickness on Saturday. Asked for the fourth time about a report that cited potential character concerns with the junior quarterback, Mallett said he would only “talk about it with other teams,” and quickly exited stage left. You have to feel for the guy, it can’t be easy standing in the spotlight being asked the same thing four different ways. Before leaving, Mallett talked about transferring from Michigan to Arkansas and how much he enjoyed his time as a Razorback.
Before Mallett took the podium, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick was also speaking. Only Cam Newton remains as one of the most sought after prospects yet to speak to the media.
4:00 PM Update
The Cam Newton watch is now over. The National Champion Auburn quarterback just spoke to the media. And like last year with Tim Tebow, it was a spectacle to say the least. Newton opened up with a prepared statement to set the record straight about quotes from him that stated his desire to be an entertainer and an icon.
“First and foremost, I understand that my obligation is to be the best possible football player that I can be,” he said. “I know and believe that. The recent comments were made during the announcement of my new endorsement partnership. I was making the point that I want to be the best possible ambassador for them, just like I want to be the best possible ambassador for whatever team I’m lucky enough to play for.”
He reiterated his passion for the game of football and his desire to be great. Newton plans to do everything at the combine because he loves to compete. I’ll have more on Newton’s press conference on Sunday, but for now it’s back to bouncing around the media room to talk to as many players as possible.
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