INDIANAPOLIS–We’re getting ready to depart Indianapolis after three days but want to cover a few bases.
*** Showing up at the combine out of shape and announcing he will not work out until the pro day at his school was a bad move by Alabama’s Andre Smith. Bolting town early Saturday morning without telling anyone was another strike against Smith. Remember, this is the player who was suspended for the Crimson Tide’s bowl game because of illegal contact with an agent. The strikes keep piling up and Baylor’s Jason Smith and Virginia’s Eugene Monroe are capitalizing quickly.
Both performed well in workouts and on the field Saturday in Lucas Oil Stadium. Jason Smith, a converted tight end, put up 33 reps on the bench at 225 pounds. If Andre Smith doesn’t wow scouts at his pro day March 11, he’ll fall significantly behind these two.
*** USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, perhaps eyeing an opportunity to gain ground on Georgia’s Matthew Stafford, will work out in positional drills today. Sanchez is anxious to answer any concerns scouts may have about his arm strength. With Stafford waiting until his school’s pro day to throw for scouts, this is a chance for Sanchez to claim the spotlight. The thing he can’t make up here is the lack of experience he has coming out of school with only 16 starts.
*** Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew, considered head and shoulders above the group, dropped the ball with a 4.87-second time in the 40–yard dash. Those capitalizing were South Carolina’s Jared Cook (4.50) and Southern Miss’ Shawn Nelson (4.56). Cook starred in workouts but passed on positional drills.
*** Finally, general manager Jerry Angelo was asked about veteran cornerback Nathan Vasher, who has been limited to 12 games over the last two seasons since his lucrative contract extension that has already paid him more than $15 million.
“I don’t know where he is now,” Angelo said. “I touched on that. He has to re-establish himself, he’s competing to start. We talked about that, he’s got to take his game to another level. I didn’t see anything physically speaking that would tell me that he can’t, but he’s got to get it going. He’s had some injuries that’s kind of retarded some of the things maybe that we’re used to seeing from him, but he hasn’t been the guy that we’ve been accustomed to seeing and certainly not the guy that [we saw] when we gave him his contract extension. He needs to be a better player. He knows that. I feel strongly he’s going to accept that challenge and we’re going to see a much better Nathan Vasher.”
Vasher has fallen out of favor with the coaching staff and if he’s not behind Corey Graham for a starting job right now, it will be an open competition. With Charles Tillman out for minicamp next month while he recovers from shoulder surgery, Vasher and Graham could both be on the field then. Angelo didn’t want to speculate if Vasher fell into a comfort zone after receiving his new deal.
“I’m not going to put myself on the player’s … I could [only] speak for what I see,” Angelo said. “I’m not going to get into being a psychiatrist. I’ve got enough things that I have to deal with. He knows what he has to do. He’s a good person, highly competitive, all the things that he needs to do to be the player we want him to be he can be, and that’s assuming he stays healthy.”
Wide receivers work out today and we’ll check in later on with some updates from that. Four Down Territory will return Monday.