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Combore 2009

Combore 2009

There's even a logo for it.
(I posted this a year ago but it bears repeating. I'm not sure if the number of media credentials still is 400; it may be down a bit due to the state of the newspaper business, but the larger points remain.)

I'm an NFL writer. I'm an NFL guy. But I couldn't possibly be less interested in the alleged NFL "event" going on this weekend.

The combine (I refuse to capitalize it) is all over the sports media. There were some 400 media credentials issued for the gathering, more than one for every player participating. Every paper has its team beat reporters in Indianapolis. Sirius NFL radio is there for many of its daily shows. The omnipresent ESPN is there. The NFL Network is the worst, carrying hour upon tedious hour of live coverage from the RCA Dome and the various other media centers in downtown Indy. They're even counting down highlights and showing classic combine moments from years past.

And why are they all there? To watch a bunch of college dropouts run around in shorts and t-shirts doing a variety of tasks, most of which are unrelated to football. The prospects run the 40, do a vertical jump from a standing start, pump iron, run laterally over some pads lined up on the ground, and do something called a three-cone drill. They get weighed, measured, poked and prodded. Fortunately, the TV coverage does not include the weigh-in which, I understand, in conducted in minimal clothing.

The purpose of this is to provide NFL coaches and general managers with what they call "measurables". That way, in three years when five of a given team's seven draft picks are working at Best Buy, the GM can go to his boss and say, "but our second-round guy ran a 4.355 40 and the fifth-rounder had a shuttle drill time that was off the charts." Of course, he won't remind his boss that he ignored the fact that those draftees were utterly unproductive on the field of play.

For their part, most of the players have put a dent into the former schools' graduation rates, dropping out to prepare full-time for the combine. A cottage industry has sprung up centered around training NFL prospects in the finer points of the shuttle run and shaving a few hundredths of a second off of their 40 times. All of this is bankrolled by eager agents, who front the kids expense money is exchange for a hefty chunk of their first few paychecks.

I suppose it's necessary, a good way for all of the teams to pool their resources and get some needed information. And it would be a bit much for a prospect to have to run the 40-yard dash 32 times. The economy of scale does make some sense.

But 400 media credentials? There are pressers going on almost constantly, providing quotes, notes and nuggets to fuel the 24/7 sports media machine. It's kind of like the event we had all of two and a half weeks ago in Tampa. I mean, has that much changed since the Super Bowl that we need a whole new round of it?

At least in Tampa the media frenzy was centered on an actual event, a football game for the NFL championship. This weekend's press opportunity revolves around something that's sort of like a track meet minus the crowds, the excitement, and the awarding of medals.

I'm usually a sucker for anything with the letters "NFL" as part of name. But I'll pass on this one.

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One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

One stat that should make DeSean Jackson very dangerous against Eagles

The Eagles defense is on a big-play streak, but not one that defensive coordinators will like very much, and it could be very good news for the Redskins and DeSean Jackson. 

At this stage of his career, Jackson is a well-known deep threat. While much of the 2016 season has been disappointing for Jackson, in back-to-back weeks, the vertical passing attack has worked. In Arizona last Sunday, Jackson only caught one pass, but it went for 59 yards. On Thanksgiving in Dallas, Jackson hauled in a 67-yard touchdown pass from Kirk Cousins as part of his season-high 118 receiving yards.

"What he brings to this football team, he brings something that not a lot of people can bring, and that’s obviously the speed and the big play ability," 'Skins head coach Jay Gruden said of Jackson.

The last two games moved Jackson's yards-per-catch average back in normal range with the rest of his career at 16.5. Halfway through this season, Jackson was averaging below 14 YPC, which would have been by far the worst of his career.

"A lot of people think that we haven’t utilized his speed quite like we should, but I think he has had a major impact on this football team," Gruden said. "His deep threat has an impact on the defense. It opens up areas for Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder and the backs sometimes. He’s been a major influence for this football team in a good way."

Beyond just the big plays, the Eagles defense has given up 645 passing yards in their last two games. Cousins has historically played well in Philadelphia, and should be in good position to do the same this weekend.

And based on the Eagles' past six games, expect Jackson to have another big game at Lincoln Financial Field. 

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