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NFL Combine notebook: Ex-Pitt QB continues to fly under NFL's radar

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By Alan Robinson
Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, 10:06 p.m.

One of the more under-the-radar players at the NFL Combine was Pitt quarterback Tom Savage, who bounced around between Rutgers and Arizona before finally landing in Pittsburgh and starting last season.

“A big, strong kid who can throw the football,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “He's been at three colleges, so nobody even knows about him, but he's a big kid with a live arm.”

• The NFL Competition Committee is expected to take up a proposal next month to penalize those in the league who use racial slurs; an in-game infraction would be a 15-yard penalty. Steelers safety Ryan Clark told ESPN that team chairman Dan Rooney, through cornerback Ike Taylor, asked the Steelers players to stop using them, even when it was black players kidding with other black players. Clark said the self-imposed ban lasted for a while, but the players eventually went back to using them.

• South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney's 4.53 time in the 40-yard dash was major news at the combine, and it took attention away from the almost as impressive 4.58 by a Pennsylvania defensive lineman: Larry Webster of Bloomsburg. The 6-foot-6 Webster weighs 252 pounds or about 30 less than Aaron Donald of Pitt. The third-fastest time among linemen was the 4.60 by Howard Jones of Shepherd, a Division II school in West Virginia about 190 miles from Pittsburgh. However, Jones, at 235 pounds, appears to be too small to play defensive end in the NFL.

• Despite Clowney's rapid 40 time, he underachieved in weightlifting with only 21 reps of 225 pounds — and this after a season in which he had 10 12 fewer sacks than in 2012.“He's the scariest, (most) freakish, physical specimen I've ever seen since I've been doing this, as a potential upside defensive lineman,” Mayock said. “However, that doesn't mean I'm saying he's the best defensive lineman in the draft or the best player in the draft, because he worries me with a lot of the red flags.”

• The story that wouldn't die in Indianapolis was the Browns' inquiry about trading for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, which San Francisco wouldn't even discuss. Now, according to the NFL Network, Southern Cal also was interested in talking to Harbaugh if the 49ers had given permission. The USC search was headed by former Steelers linebackers coach Jed Hughes, now a well-known executive search firm head.

— Alan Robinson

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