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Tackle Andre Smith leaves without notice

NFL COMBINE

Smith, among the top three prospects at his position, abruptly returns to Alabama, a move scouts say could cost him millions of dollars at draft time.

February 22, 2009|Sam Farmer

INDIANAPOLIS — Alabama's Andre Smith is a left tackle in the truest sense.

He's a tackle. And he left.

Smith, considered among the top three prospects at his position, abruptly left the NFL scouting combine Saturday, skipping his workout and flying to Alabama unannounced. He told the NFL Network he did so to continue preparations for his March 11 pro day on campus.

Smith, who didn't feel ready to perform for teams here, had been booked on a 4 p.m. flight but changed his reservation to leave at 6 a.m.

"If I had the chance to do it all over, I wouldn't have handled it the way I did," Smith told the network Saturday afternoon. "I should have told my group leader that I was leaving, and I didn't. I didn't mean to ruffle any feathers or step on any toes. I didn't mean to grandstand anyone at the combine. That was not my intention at all, and I apologize for my mistake."

There were whispers among NFL scouts that the decision to leave, and particularly the way he left, could cost Smith millions of dollars.

Crabtree injured

Doctors discovered a stress fracture in the foot of Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, the best receiver in the draft. The injury will require surgery to insert a screw in his foot, and probably will keep him out for 10 weeks, meaning he won't be able to run a 40 or participate in any drills before the draft.

There are questions about Crabtree's speed, and the injury, which reportedly appears to be fairly fresh, will do nothing to allay the concerns of scouts. As it stands, however, he isn't likely to fall out of the top 10, or even the top five.

On Friday, before the injury was announced, Crabtree was asked about the questions surrounding his speed.

"There's always going to be questions," he said. "I think I'll answer them all."

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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