With barely a week before the combine begins players continue to prepare for the biggest job interview of their lives. Tonight we check on the condition of several injured players, including one who will not participate in the combine. Also we alert you to a few sleeper prospects who have been recently turning in great training numbers.
- While in Orlando at Shrine Game practices we reported Kansas State tight end Jaron Mastrud was walking around the team hotel with his right foot in a boot. Sources have told us Mastud, who had surgery in December for a stress fracture, will not participate in the combine workout. The injury occurred some time during the final month of the season and Mastrud played the final four games of the campaign with pain in his foot. The pain lingered after extended rest so a CT scan was performed on December 12th and Mastrud was diagnosed with a stress fracture. Three days later doctors performed surgery and inserted a pin to speed up the healing process. Mastrud had a second CT scan in January which showed the operation was a success and the fracture was healing ahead of schedule. Sources told us the boot was taken off two weeks ago and after more than a month of running in a pool to keep in shape, the big tight end has taken to lightly running outside. Mastrud has not been cleared by doctors to resume a full training schedule and except for possibly the bench press, will not take part in any running or jumping tests at the combine. The present game plan is for a private pro-day workout in either late March or early April, depending on when doctors give the go ahead.
- One player that’s returned from injury with greater success is Clemson’s Ricky Sapp. The Tigers defensive star tore an ACL in his right knee during the late part of his junior campaign in 2008. Eight months after surgery he was back on the field for practice, though his injury was not completely healed. Sources told us Sapp was playing on a knee that was just 65% last season. Clemson did not properly rehabilitate the knee and as a result his right quadriceps muscle was not properly working. At the end of the season Sapp started consulting with a specialist from New York city to alleviate the situation. During the interim he missed the Senior Bowl because of lingering effects. A letter went out to all 32 NFL franchises alerting them of the situation. Right now Sapp’s knee is about 99% and he is expected to be at full strength by the time he takes to the field at Lucas Oil Stadium one week from Monday for his combine workout. Sapp’s weight stands around 254-pounds, about ten more than he played at last season.
- Sources have told us Kareem Jackson has looked great in recent workouts, which is no surprise. Jackson’s defensive back mechanics have been called into question and to improve his skills the Alabama junior has been working with former defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, whose specialty is coaching defensive backs.
- Another cornerback turning in good workouts is Trevard Lindley of Kentucky. Lindley, who suffered from leg and hamstring injuries last season, is getting faster as the days go by. Sources have told us Lindley is running in the low 4.4’s (4.42) in training and has topped 40-inches on the vertical jump.
- Junior Thaddeus Gibson, the defensive end/outside linebacker from Ohio State, was measured at 6-feet, 2-inches and in the low 240-pound area recently. He has been running his forty’s in the 4.6-second area. Those we’ve spoken with compare Gibson to another Buckeye junior, Brian Hartline, as a prospect that won’t be highly rated moving towards the draft but will be productive at the next level.
- Gibson’s college teammate, defensive tackle Doug Worthington, recently tipped the scales at 292-pounds and has been consistently running under 4.9-seconds in the forty.
- Earl Mitchell of Arizona is another defensive tackling tearing it up at training. Mitchell is up to 295-pounds, six more than he weighed in Orlando for the East/West game. He’s run as fast as 4.78-seconds in the forty besides posting a vertical jump of 30-inches.
- Since December we have been following the story of IUP cornerback Akwa Owusa-Ansah. The small school star struggled with a torn labrum last season and the injury requires surgery to repair. We were told back in January that Owusa-Ansah would participate in the combine workout except for the bench press, then undergo surgery to repair the labrum which was to be performed by Dr. James Bradley of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The situation has changed. Today sources told us Owusa-Ansah will try and complete the entire combine workout, then perform again for scouts on his pro-day on March 15th, before undergoing a surgical procedure on his labrum soon after.