It wouldn’t be surprising if one of former University of Alabama offensive lineman’s future is decided by another.
Former Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker got "down" to 339 pounds for the NFL Combine.
While Cincinnati has an obvious need at safety, it could soon have a greater one on the offensive line, especially right tackle where Andre Smith tops the depth chart.
Although Smith got off to a rocky start with the Bengals after a contract holdout followed by a foot fracture, he’s since settled in and started every game last season.
The No. 6-overall draft pick in 2009, he signed a four-year contract worth $21 million with another $8 million in incentives, but the deal also included a two-year option that could be picked up in 2011. Considering Smith started in just seven games during his first two seasons the team declined.
That makes him a free agent on March 12, and even though the team apparently wants to sign Smith to a long-term deal there's some doubt over if it will be able to.
Fluker, considered by many to be the best right tackle in the draft, visited with the Bears at the Senior Bowl, the Rams at the Combine and is reportedly also drawing interest from the Colts.
The Bengals have the 21st-overall selection, and also have a need at running back. Last year they took Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick at No. 17, with a pick obtained from Oakland in the Carson Palmer deal.
“It was kind of like one of those college freshman redshirt years,” Coach Marvin Lewis said about Kirkpatrick. “He got an opportunity to get a sniff of playing, which worked out in our favor. We knew after the season that we would have to address his lower leg which we did a little earlier than we had hoped. He’s doing fine now. The limited opportunities he got he played his tail off on special teams, he got some real positive snaps on defense, it was great to have him on the practice field to learn. He had a great group of mentors in that room with their leadership. He couldn’t have been put in a better situation to learn how to be a pro.”
Something else to keep an eye on
A lot of Falcons fans are hoping Eddie Lacy and Julio Jones become teammates again.
Falcons coach Mike Smith was non-committal about a report that Atlanta is poised to release running back Michael Turner
"This time of the year, there's tough decisions that have to be made," Smith told reporters at the Combine. "We're recalibrating our roster as we speak in terms of going through that process. Michael's under contract right now, and we'll continue to go through the process in terms of how we're going to recalibrate it. Myself, (owner) Mr. (Arthur) Blank and (general manager) Thomas (Dimitroff) have had numerous discussions.
"There's a cause and effect to every decision that you make at this time of the year. You're dealing with the salary cap, and those decisions will work themselves out the next couple weeks."
Turner is set to make $6.9 million in 2013 and just turned 31, the age running backs traditionally start to slow down.
The Falcons have the 30th-overall pick and may have to decide between taking Eddie Lacy, who will not participate in any combine drill due to a hamstring injury, and taking a chance on someone in the second or third round.
Lacy weighed in at 231 pounds. He was listed at 220 on the Alabama roster.
Fluker reportedly did 21 reps in the bench press.
Chance Warmack did not do the bench press due to a shoulder injury, and instead wait for Alabama’s Pro Day on March 13.
Quote of the day
"I'm going to come take your lunch money." _ Fluker on what he says to defensive linemen.
From the interview sessions ...
Fluker said teams have talked to him about playing both tackle positions and guard. “I’m versatile,” he said, adding that he would even try center. Fluker also disclosed that he was initially disclosed by Alabama to play defensive tackle.
Warmack said he's already been warned that he'll likely be fined if he wears his NFL jersey like what he did with the Crimson Tide.
Lacy on Warmack: “Off the field he’s like one of the coolest dudes ever, but when its time to go in and get some reps in the game, he’s different, he’s just a different person. Whomever gets in his way, you’re going to move or get run over.”
Fluker: “The funnest part of a game is knocking a defensive end down. Dominate him every single play, let him know that the ball is coming behind me every single play.”
All the Alabama offensive linemen fielded numerous questions about Jeff Stoutland from the Philadelphia reporters.
When asked what he does to relax, Fluker said there’s not time to relax. “I want to be the Ray Lewis of my offensive line.”
Fluker interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BLY15Ca4-w&feature=youtu.be
Other Alabama players
Barrett Jones: Is wearing a protective boot at the Combine after having foot surgery and will not participate in drills.
Quinton Dial: Will not participate in workouts after having foot/toe surgery.
Nico Johnson: Sidelined following sports hernia surgery.
Eddie Lacy: Will not run drills at the combine due to a hamstring injury.
Robert Lester: Was rated by Phil Savage as the South Team’s fourth-best safety at the Senior Bowl by Phil Savage, whose evaluations were released Thursday.
Dee Milliner: Will run drills, but not participate in the bench press due to a shoulder injury that will require surgery after the Combine.
Damion Square: Is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery. As of 10 days ago wasn’t sure if he would participate in Combine drills.
Jesse Williams: Is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery.
The combine started Wednesday:
It's done by positions, and each group goes through the same process:
Day 1: Travel to Indianapolis; Registration; Hospital pre-exam & X-rays; Orientation; Interviews
Day 2: Measurements; Medical examinations; Media; Interviews
Day 3: NFLPA meeting; Psychological testing; PK/ST workout; Bench press; Interviews
Day 4: On-field workout (timing, stations, skill drills); Departure from Indianapolis
The NFL Network will have live coverage of all the on-field workouts beginning Saturday, 8 a.m. each day.
Saturday: Tight ends, offensive linemen, special teams
Sunday: Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
Monday: Defensive linemen, linebackers
Tuesday: Defensive backs