NFL Combine notebook: Browns coach discounts 'noise'
INDIANAPOLIS — Browns coach Mike Pettine showed up in a T-shirt, jeans and a team jacket for his NFL Combine news conference Saturday, a casual look for a man who was a Bills assistant coach a few weeks ago.
The first question he heard was about reports Cleveland tried to trade for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh before hiring him.
“I think that's noise,” he said. “It has no bearing on my job moving forward. That's a control thing. A big part of being an NFL coach is dealing with the noise, dealing with the distractions. Add another to the list.”
Pettine said the entire Browns organization is dedicated to “turning things around” despite the recent firings of executives Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi, who were in charge of hiring him.
Texas A&M's other guy
Receiver Mike Evans is the other Texas A&M offensive star who could go in the first round — quarterback Johnny Manziel is expected to be picked early — and he already has talked to the Ravens, Lions and Seahawks. He didn't mention the Steelers, but he might be the player they target with the No. 15 pick. “I feel like I'm the best (receiver) in this class,” said the 6-foot-5 Evans, who would give Ben Roethlisberger the tall target he has wanted.
Rice video concerns GM
A day after Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he saw nothing that would indicate running back Ray Rice won't be with the team, general manager Ozzie Newsome was more cautionary in discussing video that shows Rice and his fiancee following an altercation at an Atlantic City casino. Police said the two struck each other. “I (watch) online just like anyone else, and it doesn't look good,” Newsome said Saturday. “It's very concerning. But until we get all the facts, we'll allow the process to run its course. … I think John (Harbaugh) said it best, we'll let the facts determine what the consequences are.”
Committee to talk language
The NFL Competition Committee will consider a measure that would assess a 15-yard penalty for racial slurs that occur during games, though it could prove difficult to enforce. Newsome is a member of the committee, which meets next month at the owners meetings in Orlando, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin also is a member. “We have to look at it from A to Z and find out what are the unintended consequences as much as the consequences,” Newsome said. “There are mics everywhere. So if something is being said, it's probably going to be captured” and could be used as evidence.
McCarron favors Patriots
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, a player on record as saying he gets too little respect, said the model franchise for him might be New England. “I love the Patriots organization,” he said. “If I had the chance to to go there and sit behind (Tom) Brady for however long and learn from one of the best to play the game, that'd be an awesome experience. It's like New England is the Alabama of pro football. Coach (Nick) Saban learned under coach (Bill) Belichick. So it would almost be deja vu.”
South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney could be the No. 1 pick, and he thinks he should be. Outlining his career goals, he said, “I want to be one of the best. I want to be one of the greatest of all time.” And why should he be the first pick, ahead of some of the quarterbacks? He pointed to the Seahawks' 43-8 win over the Broncos in the Super Bowl, saying, “Defense won that game.” Clowney's wingspan was measured Saturday at 83 inches, or nearly 7 feet — an asset that could prevent offensive linemen from holding him.
QB's ‘virtual reps'
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater admittedly plays football on his gaming system. “I call it taking virtual reps,” he said. But he won't be doing any actual throwing at the combine, saying he wants to wait until the Cardinals' pro day on March 17 so he can throw to familiar receivers. Of the top four quarterbacks in the draft, only Blake Bortles of Central Florida will throw at the combine.
Fired trainer honored
Kevin O'Neill, fired by the Dolphins after the NFL released the Ted Wells report on workplace harassment involving the Miami offensive linemen, was honored by the NFL Physicians Society as the head athletic trainer of the year. Former Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson strongly criticized the O'Neill firing, calling him the best trainer he ever had.