INDIANAPOLIS -- Michael Crabtree was quick on his feet Sunday, and if he does the same thing for NFL scouts next month, the stress fracture in his left foot might soon be forgotten.
In an odd scene at the NFL Scouting Combine, Crabtree strolled quickly across the media room moments after New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick finished speaking. Crabtree walked up a couple of steps, smiled at reporters and then gave a 20-second statement confirming the decision to delay surgery so he could run in front of scouts during next month's personal workout.
"It's an old injury that I've been having, but I never had any pain in it," Crabtree said. "I will run my 40, and after that, I will have surgery."
With that, Crabtree exited stage left, taking no questions.
Clearly, it was an effort to stem the fallout that began Saturday when it was revealed Crabtree needed surgery.
Crabtree came to the combine not planning to work out but still hoping to prove he was the top receiver in the draft and worthy of a top-five pick. Instead, he measured in almost two inches shorter than his listed height of 6-foot-3 at Texas Tech, and then the medical examinations revealed the stress fracture. Many general managers consider medical tests the most important part of this week's combine.
Coaches were informed during Saturday's workouts that Crabtree had been diagnosed with the injury, and he was then told his best option would be to have a screw inserted into the foot and that the recovery could take 10 weeks or longer. If he had surgery now, Crabtree probably wouldn't work out in front of NFL scouts before April's draft. The lack of information could have affected his projection as the best receiver in the draft, and a possible selection in the top five.
That's why Crabtree decided to wait.
League and combine officials wouldn't confirm the diagnosis Saturday, but Jeff Foster, president of National Football Scouting Inc., explained Sunday that they don't give out medical information.
There was another scare during Sunday's workouts with the receivers when Missouri's Jeremy Maclin took a tumble. After he was checked over, Maclin tested his left leg briefly on the sideline before returning to the rest of his receiver group for the next passing drill. Maclin didn't appear to be running at 100 percent after the fall, but he appeared to be confident enough to continue participating.
Foster didn't address the strange saga of Andre Smith, the offensive tackle from Alabama, who couldn't be found for Saturday morning's workouts. Apparently, Smith moved up his flight and left town early without telling combine officials.
Smith's absence was announced on the public-address system inside the stadium, where reporters aren't permitted with the exception of those from NFL Network.
It's not unusual for players to leave Indianapolis early, though they normally provide that information before departing.
Smith is considered by many to be the top tackle and possibly the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press