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April 5, 2011TUSCALOOSA | Rob Johnson spent a full day traveling Monday just to spend an hour or so with Greg McElroy on Tuesday.
Two quarterbacks, far too apart in age for their careers and teams to have ever crossed, came together as Johnson helped the former Alabama quarterback through drill after drill in a private workout for NFL scouts in Alabama's indoor athletic facility.
Johnson, the former Southern Cal and NFL passer, has been a mentor of sorts for McElroy. And on a day when McElroy sought to make up for missing both the NFL Combine and UA's Pro Day with a fractured hand, it didn't hurt to have a familiar voice in his ear.
"We flew three stops, Chicago, all that," Johnson said. "But it means a lot to him, and it means a lot to me to be here. I wouldn't say (our relationship) is coach-player as much. It's almost like we're both players because we get on each other so much. He takes it well. He's going to do well - he's smart."
McElroy threw passes to former Alabama wide receiver Earl Alexander, former UA tight end Preston Dial, and former South Alabama receiver Courtney Smith in front of two scouts from the Seattle Seahawks, including veteran scout Derrick Jensen. It wasn't the turnout of scouts that McElroy was hoping for, but he still has plenty of opportunities to show his skills to scouts in private workouts over the next three weeks before the NFL Draft.
He just won't necessarily be in Tuscaloosa to do them.
"I'm going to have some private workouts. I have some more coming," McElroy said. "I have to go to Indianapolis this weekend. I've got to get like 25 X-rays and about 32 physicals, but that's OK. It's part of getting into this thing."
As for his relationship with Johnson, McElroy said it dates back to his youth years, when he lived in California, and attended Camp Quarterback, which is operated by the Johnson family.
"Rob's the best. I've worked with him for years. He's a guy I have a lot of respect for," McElroy said. "I followed his career when he was playing, and I've worked with his dad since 2001 or so."
Since a cast was removed from his throwing hand, McElroy has been throwing lightly for about two weeks, and throwing more aggressively for more than a week. According to McElroy, Tuesday's workout was a first opportunity to show the NFL that his hand is fully healed. McElroy said he was pleased with his accuracy, but his arm is experiencing some fatigue that is normal given the layoff caused by his injury.
"Feedback has been good. For the most part, throughout the whole draft process, I've gone up," McElroy said. "I went from a relative unknown to (scouts thinking) 'He's a good player, he's not just a product of the system', to now, being a mid- to late-(round draft pick). Who knows? It depends on where you fall."
Said Johnson: "He's only been really throwing out of the cast for like three weeks, and I thought he did a great job. He spun the ball well. There were only a couple of balls here or there, like anybody's Pro Day, that he would like back. He's a winner. He's won everywhere he's been. He can make every throw, the deep comeback, the deep balls, the deep post. No matter where he goes, when he gets drafted he'll play for awhile."
Draft experts have identified McElroy's strengths as accuracy and intelligence, but have noted concern about his arm strength. Johnson said McElroy's arm strength may not always be an issue.
"When you're in college, you've got school and other things pulling you. When you become a pro, you focus in on one thing," Johnson said. "Tom Brady didn't have his arm strength coming out (of Michigan). He's developed that."
Dial, who is recovering from Feb. 15 surgery to repair a sports hernia, was unable to run routes, but served as a stationary target for McElroy, while Alexander and Smith handled the route-running.
Near the end of the workout, Alexander injured a hamstring, and said he pulled it as he walked off the indoor turf field.
A look at scheduled events for A-Day, the Crimson Tide's annual spring scrimmage on April 16:
* At noon, the UA letterman's club will hold a 7-on-7 flag football game in Bryant-Denny Stadium to entertain early-arriving fans. Last year was the first year the event was held, and drew dozens of notable former Crimson Tide players.
* At 12:15 p.m., the Walk of Fame ceremony will be held at Denny Chimes as the permanent captains from Alabama's 2010 team - Mark Barron, McElroy and Dont'a Hightower - will have their hands and cleats impressed in the cement where captains from previous UA seasons have done the same. This event will be simulcast on the video boards inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
* At 12:45 p.m., UA will unveil the statue of UA coach Nick Saban along with Walk of Champions at the North Plaza outside the stadium. Saban's likeness will stand next to statues of Alabama's four other national championship coaches. Saban, along with members from UA's 2009 national championship team as well as some current players, will attend the event. Like the Walk of Fame event, the statue unveiling will also be carried live on the stadium video boards.
* The A-Day game kicks off at 2 p.m. in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
* At halftime of A-Day, a quarterback challenge will be held featuring pairs of former Alabama quarterbacks, one older, one younger, competing in a skills contest.
* Following the A-Day game, Saban will distribute spring awards to players.
In the days before A-Day, two notable UA football players will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before a UA baseball game. McElroy will throw out the first pitch for Alabama's 6:35 p.m. baseball game against Tennessee on Thursday, April 14. The following day, UA running back Trent Richardson will throw out the first pitch at 6:30 p.m. when UA's baseball team faces Mississippi State.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.
More from Tidesports.com - See a photo gallery of McElroy's workout by clicking here.