9:51 A.M. EST: Greetings from Indianapolis, where the temperature would have to rise 10 degrees for it to be considered “frigid,” and where I just spent 35 minutes emptying out a pair of digital audio recorders to capture sound from the interviews to follow.
Not that I’m complaining or anything about the weather outside, but there were icicles forming inside my ear canal while walking from the hotel to the Indiana Convention Center.
Precious little to report so far … except that the number of media credentials issued is purportedly around 550, which is nearly three times the total issued just five years ago.
9:54 A.M. EST: And we’re under way … first player up, Virginia offensive lineman Branden Albert, who, for Combine timing purposes, is simply two letters and a number: “OL1.”
The fact that he is the first player brought into the room almost certainly affords him a larger crowd than the one he would have drawn had he simply sauntered in here mid-afternoon.
10:17 A.M. EST: Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith has held court at one of the podiums here for about 15 minutes. Over two dozen coaches and executives hold press conferences here over the course of the weekend, but none are scheduled to feature anyone from the Broncos. In fact, the Broncos have historically been quite reticent in this milieu; no Broncos official has held a press conference here in my six years of covering the Combine.
10:43 A.M. EST: Best name here, early edition: St. Xavier K/P Shane Longest.
11:07 A.M. EST: A few thoughts from and about Longest:
… “Even the medical exams, they’ve been fun,” he said. Wow. Six years here, and that’s the first time I’ve ever heard the physicals described in a word not synonymous with “protracted,” “invasive” or “necessary.” …
… He plans to work out on kickoffs, placekicking and punts here, but says he views himself primarily as a placekicker who can “back up” on punting detail …
… He says his longest field goal was a 75-yarder in practice. “It was pretty windy,” he said, “but it was a good kick.” Master of understatement …
… His Combine invitation provided him with the perfect Christmas present. “I got the invite the day after Christmas. My mom called me. She was kind of freaking out a little bit.” Again, master of understatement …
… He estimates about 22 teams sent representatives to visit him on the St. Xavier campus.
12:19 P.M. EST: Very busy the last hour … several offensive linemen dropped by, most notably Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long and Notre Dame center John Sullivan, who talked about his friendship with Broncos tackle Ryan Harris … Going to start fishing through quotes and photos and will post throughout the afternoon.
1:59 P.M. EST: At one point, seven different players were doing interviews. Even with help from video producer Kasey Byers, two cameras and three audio recorders, you can’t possibly get every soundbite uttered around here, and, dear reader, the blog sort of becomes a lower priority in the quest for two months’ worth of daily content.
It’s three minutes with one guy, four minutes with another, maybe longer if you find a particularly interesting story — such as UConn’s Donald Thomas, an offensive lineman who didn’t even take up football until his sophomore year of college and didn’t finally get a scholarship until his senior year, although he used the free ride for two seasons by playing as a fifth-year redshirt.
In contrast to the slight shoving and brief jostling that was a part of the media crush that surrounded Long, only three people interviewed Thomas, including myself. Either he’s a diamond in the rough or I have an inflated opinion of the 305-pounder because I watch way too many Friday night Big East games.
3:30 P.M. EST: The day has slowed down a tad, leaving me to start sifting through hours of interviews. Boise State’s Ryan Clady is at the podium now, and he spoke at some length of how he feels comfortable in a zone-blocking scheme, citing the Denver Broncos without being prompted as a team whose line strategy would suit him.
“We were primarily a zone team (at Boise State),” Clady said. “I’m kind of like a Denver Broncos-type offensive lineman, we cut a lot and position block and stuff like that.”
6:15 P.M. EST: The last player to hit the podium today was Tulane running back Matt Forte. The parade of runners will hit full speed Friday, a day that will be all about skill positions — runners, wide receivers and quarterbacks.
Back in the hotel room now … end-of-day wrap-up piece entry coming later, and a notebook wrapping up the day coming in a little while. The wireless Internet connection at the Indiana Convention Center was a tad spotty, but we’re cooking now … and hopefully we’ll have everything up in the next couple of hours so some restaurant can get cooking on my dinner. Ciao.
Tags: 2008 Scouting Combine