|Ben Liebenberg / NFL.com|
|Maryland's Andrew Crummey, here with USC's Sam Baker, has become familiar with the sidelines of the RCA Dome.|
INDIANAPOLIS -- The tears nearly welled, the deep pauses told volumes. To say the least, Andrew Crummey was feeling, well, crummy.
The Maryland offensive lineman entered the NFL Scouting Combine media room at the Indiana Convention Center on Saturday morning wearing a walking boot on his left foot. It was a surprising scene because Crummey had fractured the fibula in his left leg in October and had returned to play in the Terps' final regular-season game, Maryland's Emerald Bowl loss to Oregon State, and the East-West Shrine game in late December.
But on Saturday, Crummey revealed publicly for the first time that he not only had re-broken the fibula in the East-West game, but that he had undergone surgery to repair the damage, an event that has him sitting on the sidelines here at the combine with his draft status in limbo.
An event that has him feeling frustrated.
"I've been told it builds character," said Crummey, trying to find a silver lining. "I've been told."
Crummey said he's been told by doctors that the refracture -- an inch above the ankle -- takes 5-6 months to completely heal, and that by June -- around the time of the final minicamps for NFL teams -- he should be "able to take a blow to the leg."
That takes him past the combine, Maryland's Pro-Day workout on April 12, and any other chance he might have had to impress scouts and coaches before the April 26-27 NFL Draft.
The most frustrating part for Crummey, projected as a first-day pick before the surgery, has been an inability to participate in the combine. He's taken part in the team interviews, but not much else. He couldn't even participate in the bench press because he only got off crutches last Thursday and his arms were sore from bearing the weight of his body over the past six weeks.
He said he feels "like a fish out of water," just sitting around while other players are taking an active role in the workouts.
"It's tough being here ... ," Crummey said, his voice trailing off. "I'm seeing guys I played with in the East-West Game, that I played against in college, that I feel I'm just as good as or better than in a lot of areas.
"I would have tested well. I know I would have tested well. I can't up my stock. It's tough. This knocks me down, obviously. I don't have many devices at my disposal to move myself up. If I got injured before and was able to participate here, I could have erased the doubts and there could have been no question. Now I can't do that."
Crummey, the brother of Pat Crummey, a guard who spent time on the New York Giants' practice squad in 2003, spent much of his media interview session on Saturday trying to sell himself, something he has also done in his interviews with scouts, GMs and coaches over that last few days.
He said he's been told by his surgeon that the broken fibula "has been fixed" and that it's "a matter of time, not a matter of if it will heal properly."
It's a tough sell for NFL teams spending millions of dollars on players they'll take in the draft. But Crummey, who says he has heard he's dropped "at least a couple of rounds" because of his injury, hopes those same teams can overlook his inability to work out for them and instead see the productive player he was at Maryland.
"I'm still the player I was," he said. "I'm no lesser of an investement."
Cardinals strength and conditioning coach John Lott has been an interesting character in the bench press room. He can be seen animated, screaming in the ears of players -- motivating them -- to lift more.
But on Saturday, Lott was having trouble with players who were refusing to work out, including prized Arkansas running back Darren McFadden. As each player was called in for their turn to lift, Lott asked each one, in front of a capacity and attentive crowd of scouts, coachs and GMs: "Why aren't you working out here?" With all eyes on them, each player was forced to give an answer for all to hear, and the next player was called in for the same drill.
It's been a growing trend for agents to hold their clients out of workouts here, but there are many players, including North Carolina defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer, who came here for a distinct reason -- to work out and attempt to improve their stock.
"That's what we came here for, isn't it?" Balmer said. "Why not?"
Tragedy changed Miami's Campbell
The midseason murder of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor shook the franchise and shocked everyone in the organization. But it is not the first time a team has had to deal with the tragic passing of one of its players.
In 2006, the Miami Hurricanes (Taylor's alma mater) were forced to confront the homicide of defensive lineman Bryan Pata.
Calais Campbell was a linemate of Pata on that team. Campbell, a potential first-round pick, discussed how Pata's death changed his life.
"That was real tough on all of us," said Campbell. "Especially Bryan Pata, because you know it was during season. One of our starting players, one of the best players on the team. Someone I was real close with. It's tough to see that happen. It makes you appreciate life a lot more and want to get the most you can out of life right now, because you never know when it's up."
Despite the tough times that have afflicted the Miami program in recent years, the school continues to churn out elite prospects, with Campbell being the latest.
» West Virginia defensive end Johnny Dingle would have none of it. Asked innocuously by a reporter whether Rich Rodriguez had much impact on the defense at West Virginia, Dingle replied: "No coach Rodriguez questions." Rodriguez left the Mountaineers for Michigan after the 2007 regular season.
» Stat of the day, courtesy of NFL.com's Gil Brandt: The 2008 combine set a record for most offensive linemen with 35-inch arm lengths. Where else are you going to get stuff like this?
Jason Feller contributed to this report.