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What we learned from the Veteran Combine

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  • By Marc Sessler and Conor Orr
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- In a lot of ways, Felix Jones embodied one portion of the NFL's inaugural Veteran Combine class.

The 27-year-old former first-round pick had his taste of the league and wants teams to know that he's still interested. That's why he's been home in Texas working out, surrounding himself with people who are helping him stay positive and focused on another chance.

"I wanted to show off my speed, I can still move on the football field, I can still catch the ball and I got a chance to show it off," Jones said Sunday.

He added: "It's a business, and you really can't say why, but you can understand the situations ... you just have to make sure you need to stay focused on what you want to do and keep yourself prepared for anything."

Jones, who last worked out for the New York Giants in October 2014, is looking forward to the aftermath. Will scouts call? Will the time he spent on Sunday generate any interest?

At the least, he's still confident he can be the player Jerry Jones drafted in the first round back in 2008. Is anyone else?

"If I had to put a move on someone, I could definitely still do that," he said.

Here's what else we learned from the first-ever Veteran Combine:

2. Michael Sam faced a swarm of media and held his own, telling reporters he's "very confident that I will be playing football this year, somewhere." Point blank, the second-year defensive end seemed agitated with all the extra attention, stressing that his focus remains solely on football. When asked about his stint on Dancing with the Stars, Sam cut it off right away, saying: "Next question."

3. There was no rougher moment Sunday than Michael Bush's raw response to learning that he clocked out at an unofficial 4.91 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

"You gotta be (expletive) me," Bush said. "... 4.91? ... There you go, there goes my career." The free-agent running back knows scouts aren't about to jump at those results, wondering out loud if this was the end, and acknowledging: "It hurts. It hurts."

4. Brady Quinn told Around The NFL that he hopes to enjoy a Josh McCown-like renaissance on the field. "I'm 30, but I feel mentally as good as I've ever felt and as far as throwing the ball and understanding the game, I feel great," said the former first-round pick. "I had a great preseason with Seattle. I didn't get much of an opportunity in Miami, but I was 4-for-4 on the reps I got."

5. Tyler Wilson displayed the strongest arm at Sunday's tryout, throwing the ball with some pop and making the most of what he told us was an "awesome opportunity to get out here and continue to pursue what, for all of us, is a dream to continue to play football." After stints with the Raiders, Titans and Bengals, Wilson said he's had "a lot of contact with a number of teams."

6. Once the No. 8 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, pass rusher Jamaal Anderson told Around The NFL that he's fully recovered from the knee injury that blew him out of the league, saying: "I feel outstanding, not just physically but mentally, and I think it definitely humbled me to sit back and realize that I'm not entitled as a first-rounder to be on a roster."

7. Defensive end Adam Carriker first heard about the Veteran Combine from his football-fan masseuse. "I was out of sight, out of mind," the 30-year old defender told us. "That's why this is great for me, I can remind teams, 'Hey, I'm still alive. I can still play this game.'"

One more nugget on Carriker from NFL Media's Dan Hellie:

8. With so many NFL heavies in Phoenix for this week's meetings, all 32 clubs were on hand for Sunday's gathering. We spotted a smattering of general managers including Oakland's Reggie McKenzie, Minnesota's Rick Spielman, Kansas City's John Dorsey, Green Bay's Ted Thompson and Giants general manager Jerry Reese. A final count put the number of scouts at close to 100, nothing close to the Senior Bowl, but not a bad start for an event that should become a mainstay.

9. When we asked NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah who piqued his interest, the former NFL scout mentioned the "good speed" of outside linebacker Brandon Copeland, the former Pennsylvania star now signed with the Orlando Predators after brief stints with the Titans and Ravens. Jeremiah also praised former Villanova defensive end Rakim Cox, who spent part of last summer with the Vikings and Dolphins.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps the inaugural Veteran Combine and discusses which star players were helped (and hurt) by free agency. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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