Originally created 02/28/05

Williams, speedy times draw attention at combine

INDIANAPOLIS - Matt Jones and Jerome Mathis turned heads Sunday with their speed. Mike Williams did the same just by working out.

Jones, from Arkansas, ran the fastest time ever by a quarterback at the NFL combine, unofficially clocked at 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Mathis turned in the fastest time this year at the combine with an unofficial 4.32. But longtime combine veterans Bill Parcells and Gil Brandt said he was officially clocked at 4.25 - faster than Deion Sanders.

Williams was the biggest surprise. The former Southern Cal wide receiver had said Friday that he wouldn't run this weekend, but after watching some other top receivers run, Williams changed his mind.

"It was good to see Mike out there running," Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said. "It's great for the clubs to see so many guys running."

Williams ran two 4.59s, but was not among the five fastest receivers.

Mathis, who played at Hampton in Virginia, was the fastest wideout at 4.32. Indiana's Courtney Roby was next at 4.36 and South Carolina's Troy Williamson was third at 4.38.

After Jones, there was a huge drop-off among quarterbacks. Louisville's Stefan LeFors was second-fastest at 4.62, and Sam Houston State's Dustin Long was next at 4.67. But all three were faster than running back Maurice Clarett, who was slower than 4.7 on Saturday.

One of the more intriguing quarterback prospects, Adrian McPherson, ran a 4.72 but injured his left quad.


INJURY REPORT: Falcons general manager Rich McKay, the co-chairman of the NFL's competition committee, admits injuries were up last season. The league already has received a report from Jets team physician Dr. Elliot Pellman on the number of injuries in 2004.

"There's no question they were up," McKay said. "This is not the first year they were up in relation to the last season. If this is a trend, we're going to take a look at it. We'll look at every tape of a play that leads to injury and see if there is a common denominator.

"It's always concerning when injuries go up, but we don't want to make too much of it yet. There was a noticeable increase... and in lower extremity type injuries. Is it a one-year anomaly or not?"

McKay also said the competition committee was investigating low blocks, particularly downfield and not necessarily in the tackle box area.

"Player safety always will be our No. 1 goal," he said.


FOLLOW THE LEADER: LSU cornerbacks Travis Daniels and Corey Webster have big NFL aspirations.

If they want inspiration, they can call an old friend - New England Patriots defensive back Randall Gay.

In 2003, Gay was part of the Tigers' BCS national championship team. Last year, Gay went from being an undrafted rookie to winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots.

Webster and Daniels are likely to be drafted, but if any scouts wonder about their skills, they think Gay's success will help alleviate any concerns.

"I think that definitely bodes well for me and Corey, that Randall went in and had that kind of impact on a championship team," Daniels said. "Especially since he was kind of behind us."


KEEPING UP WITH DAD: Lofa Tatupu doesn't have to be a great NFL linebacker to match his father's prowess as a pro. He has to be a special teams demon.

Mosi Tatupu was a running back for Southern Cal's 1974 national champions, then played 13 seasons in the NFL. He made his mark on kick coverages and he's mentioned whenever a player emerges on special teams.

"I absolutely have to make my mark on special teams," said Lofa, who played one year at Maine before transferring to USC and helping the Trojans win two national championships. "Some teams consider me undersized (at 238 pounds).

"I get that blue-collar mentality (from Mosi). I do play with a chip on my shoulder because I was told so many times I wouldn't make it as a player."

Lofa said he would be thrilled if he can play half as long in the pros as his father did.

"That would be a long career," he said


BECK'S VISION: Linebacker Jordan Beck always had good reading skills, but it's the books - not blocks - that first got him started.

Beck, who played at Cal Poly, developed an affinity for reading while he was growing up in the mountains of Santa Cruz, Calif.

It wasn't necessarily by choice. In an era when television has become a dominant factor in children's lives, Beck's parents didn't even own a television. And when Beck wanted to study extra game film, he had to go someplace else.

"My dad was kind of addicted to television, so to save the marriage, my mom kind of made the decision to get rid of it," he said. "I'd have to stay at school or go to a friend's house."

Now that Beck is on the verge of starting an NFL career, things have changed. He still prefers books to television shows, and when does sit down on the couch, he'll watch mostly sports, movies or study game footage.

Looking back, Beck doesn't believe he's missed much.

"Absolutely not," he said. "I read books. Once I read a book about why television was no good, and I believed it."


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