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NFL COMBINE

Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree plans to run 40 despite injury

Receiver says that a stress fracture in his foot is an old injury and that he will run the 40-yard dash at NFL combine and then have surgery.

February 23, 2009|Sam Farmer

INDIANAPOLIS — Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree is determined to put his best foot forward.

The problem: He definitely has a best foot.

Crabtree, widely projected to be a top-10 selection in this spring's NFL draft, is dealing with a stress fracture in his foot that was just discovered by medical personnel at the NFL scouting combine. The injury, which he said he's had for about a year, will require surgery that will sideline him for as long as 10 weeks.

Although the initial word was Crabtree would not run a 40-yard dash for scouts, he delivered a brief statement Sunday (without fielding questions from the media) disputing that.

"It's an old injury I've been having," Crabtree said. "I've never had any pain in it. I will run my 40, and after that I'm going to do surgery. And I'm looking forward to going to the next level."

Mike Mayock, scouting expert for the NFL Network, said he's not sure that running is the right thing for Crabtree to do, but he respects his desire to compete.

"I think he's trying to show people, 'I'm not afraid to run,' and I give him points for that," Mayock said. "On the other hand, I have a feeling -- and I don't know -- that his doctors and advisors are going to say, 'Let's rethink this thing. There's enough tape out there on you. You're a top-10 pick in everybody's mind. You're not all of a sudden going to become a third-round pick. Let's just move forward."

Sanchez throws

Mayock was similarly impressed with USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who -- unlike Georgia's Matt Stafford, the other top prospect at the position -- opted to throw for scouts Sunday.

"I think what he's trying to say is, 'I'm not a prototypical USC glamour boy. I'm here because I love to compete,' " Mayock said. "Whether that's his brother telling him that, or he made the decision on his own, I think it's great. The kid's out there saying, 'I'm not afraid of anything. I'll throw the ball. I'll run every drill, the shuttles.' I think it's smart, and it just screams: 'I am a competitor.' "

Sanchez even ran a timed long-shuttle drill, an endurance test that even some of the lesser prospects have been known to skip.

Belichick speaks

In a surprising development, New England Coach Bill Belichick broke with his long-standing tradition and showed up in the combine media room to address reporters.

He declined to talk about the Tom Brady or Matt Cassel situations, and instead delivered a rambling soliloquy on coaches and executives he has worked with in the past, the proliferation of the 3-4 defense, and a lament about coaches around the league who lost their jobs this winter.

"It just doesn't seem right," he said, "to not have people like Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden, Brian Billick, Steve Mariucci, guys I've coached against -- in some cases not very well -- not be head coaches in the National Football League."

It's worth noting that it was one of Belichick's assistant coaches, 32-year-old Josh McDaniels, who replaced Shanahan in Denver.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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