Ingram improves 40-yard dash time at Alabama's pro day

Mark Ingram knows 40-yard dash times matter to NFL types. Run a few ticks faster, and the number sure looks better for teams thinking of plunking down millions on a new hire.

But the Heisman Trophy-winning tailback isn't sure how much, or if, he improved his draft stock by clocking a better time before NFL scouts, executives and coaches Wednesday at Alabama's pro day in Tuscaloosa.

"I think it's important. But sometimes you have to turn on the tape," Ingram said, then held his thumb and index finger a couple of inches apart. "The difference between 4.4 and 4.6 (seconds) is like that. On the football field, that kind of evens out a bit."

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No official time was immediately released, but Ingram said he heard he ran "anywhere from 4.47 to 4.53 seconds." senior analyst Gil Brandt reported that he clocked Ingram's two runs at 4.53 and 4.56 seconds.

By improving on the 4.61 seconds that he clocked last month at the NFL Scouting Combine, Ingram said it just shows how fast he really is.

"I think it just proves that I'm faster than I ran at the combine," Ingram said.

He was the only one of the Crimson Tide's combine participants or three likely first-round draft picks who ran the 40 again. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus stood by his combine time in the 40 and just did the broad jump (8 feet, 10 inches, he said) and position drills.

The observers at Alabama's indoor practice facility included NFL head coaches Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers and John Fox of the Denver Broncos, along with general managers Tom Heckert (Cleveland Browns), Trent Baalke (San Francisco 49ers) and Buddy Nix (Buffalo Bills). Broncos football operations chief John Elway also was there.

Asked what he thinks he accomplished Wednesday, Dareus said "showing the way I play, how athletic I am."

He also had a chance to visit with Rivera, whose Panthers have the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft.

"I really like him," Dareus said. "He's a real nice, laid-back person, and he really had nice things to say about me.

"I just acknowledged that, and I'm happy that he sees me for what I am."

Dareus has been one of a handful of players to receive some buzz as a potential top pick. He's enjoying being in that conversation.

"It's wonderful," he said. "I've never really been at the top of anything. For people to acknowledge me for what I've done and put me that high, it's unheard of.

"I didn't think I'd ever be in this position."

The 6-foot-3 Dareus weighed in at 318 pounds and said he hopes to drop a few more.

Wide receiver Julio Jones watched the workouts on crutches from the sidelines four days after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture on his foot. He's not sure when the injury occurred, but it was discovered two days before he ran a 4.39-second 40 in Indianapolis.

"I told myself if I go out there and break it, I'm going to have to have surgery anyway," Jones said. "So I just went out there and participated and did everything I needed to do."

That doesn't mean he wouldn't have liked a chance to do it again. Jones, who described his combine performance as "OK", said he ran faster times while training in Arizona. He indicated he won't conduct any more workouts before the draft starts April 28, and will go through rehabilitation in Tuscaloosa with Alabama's trainers.

"The biggest concern for me is just getting back healthy and getting my foot 100 percent," Jones said.

Jones said the prognosis for a return would be about four weeks during the season, but he can be more patient with the process now.

Quarterback Greg McElroy also was just a spectator while recovering from surgery on his throwing hand from an injury sustained during the Senior Bowl. He's hoping to start throwing in a week or two, then work out before scouts at another possible pro day in Tuscaloosa on April 5.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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