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Clarett unimpressive at NFL combine



Published: Sat, February 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



His time in the 40-yard dash wasn't among the five fastest.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- All that baggage Maurice Clarett has been carrying for years seemed to be riding on his shoulders when he ran Saturday at the NFL combine.

Clarett expected to blow away everyone with his workout. Instead, he might have blown his chance to go early in April's draft.

While fellow running backs J.J. Arrington and Ronnie Brown were running very quickly, impressing scouts and personnel directors, Clarett managed a 40-yard time above 4.7 seconds; because he was not among the five fastest, no official time was provided.

That's not nearly fast enough for a first-day draft prospect. Some runners, especially those with a history as cloudy as Clarett's, don't get selected at all when they seem so slow for the position.

"It was a rough one," Clarett told NFL Network. "I've been working so long to get to this day, doing better at practice, and I kind of mess it up. I'm frustrated. I've been working a long time, waking up at 5:30 and going back at 12:30 and then at 7 o'clock, and I totally busted."

He certainly didn't make any teams think about drafting him in a big-money slot. Instead, he claimed he aced the interview sessions with the teams, then bungled the physical stuff.

"A lot of coaches said I was a lot more humble and approachable," he said. "I thought they'd ask a lot more about what happened in the past."

Skipped several drills

Those things are on his resume, however. So is his spotty workout Saturday in which he skipped several drills after his slow run.

"I think we were all as disappointed in his time as he was," Titans general manager Floyd Reese said. "It looks like he's in better shape than last year. It wasn't quite what he hoped when he ran 40s. And it doesn't help when guys around him run 4.4s."

That would be Arrington, of Cal, who ran a 4.46, and Brown, of Auburn, who turned in a 4.48 on either side of Clarett's poky pace.

"After two years out, he has to get himself in football shape," Cardinals coach Dennis Green said of Clarett. "We don't even know how fast he has run before.

"If you look at the 2002 season, he can play football."

Personal workouts next

That's what Clarett hopes NFL people do until his personal workout in two weeks. And he might get the benefit of the doubt from some, such as Cardinals executive Rod Graves.

"I will say this, because there is a lot that goes on out there that you have to keep it within the context," Graves said. "Maurice Clarett, when he had the opportunity to perform without the distractions that went on off the field, performed very well. I think you have to keep that in mind when you're evaluating Maurice Clarett. That he is a good football player when his focus is there. And when he's on the field."




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