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March 8, 2011

Ingram, Dareus Pro Day plans

TUSCALOOSA | Marcell Dareus is not expected to run the 40-yard dash at the University of Alabama's Pro Day on Wednesday, while Heisman Trophy-winning running back Mark Ingram may not participate in anything but the 40, their respective agents told tidesports.com.

Dareus, the former Crimson Tide defensive lineman who is expected to be chosen in the top 10 of the National Football League Draft on April 28-30, recorded a 4.93-second 40-yard dash at 319 pounds last month at the NFL Combine workout in Indianapolis - good enough to pass on the event on Wednesday. Pro Day draws representatives from every NFL club to watch draft-eligible players perform a variety of drills and physical tests. In order to protect their lofty draft status, top prospects such as Dareus often will perform at Pro Day only in events that they expect to improve on from their combine results.

"Position drills is all he'll probably do," said Dareus' agent, Todd France. "He may do the L-drill again."

Also known as the three-cone drill, the L-drill requires players to run to three cones placed five yards apart in the shape of an L as quickly as possible, testing quickness and agility as much as speed.

"Nothing is bad enough (from the combine) to have to do again. The focus for us right now is just position drills," added France. "The bench (press) is fine. His strength shows up more than it even needs to on film. His 40-time for his weight was great. Could he do better? Yes he can, but we'll still stick to what we need to do. The last thing we want to do is go out and pull a hamstring and not be able to do what we need to do."

Ingram's official 40-yard dash time at the combine was a 4.62. The Crimson Tide's record-breaking rusher, like Dareus, declared his eligibility for the draft after his junior year. Since the combine two weeks ago, the 40-yard dash has been Ingram's training focus in preparation for Pro Day.

"Mark's just going to run the 40. He may do some football stuff … running routes, catching the ball, maybe some specialized running back drills if teams have special requests," said his agent, Rocky Arceneaux. "But as far as any of the testing, relative to the combine, the only one is the 40-yard dash. He was actually happy with everything, including his 40, but he knows he can run a faster time. He got out the way he wanted to, he just didn't finish, and he wants to improve on his time."

Ingram's time in the 10-yard split drill at the NFL Combine was a position-best 1.55 seconds. The 10-yard split, which measures a player's ability to reach top speed over a short distance, is a crucial tool for NFL clubs evaluating running backs.

"His 10 (-yard split drill) was amazing. That's getting to the hole before it closes, and they had a few guys who ran 4.3 who were much further behind Mark with their 10 (-yard) times," Arceneaux added. "If they don't bust an outside run, they're not going to get through the hole before it closes."

With Dareus and Ingram taking a pass on many drills, a UA Pro Day already lacking some top attractions due to injuries to Julio Jones and Greg McElroy will be even less of a spectacle. Although Jones may conduct interviews with NFL clubs and be present at Pro Day, a stress fracture in the foot of the former UA wide receiver, and subsequent surgery, will make him a spectator when it comes to workout performances.

Not that he would want to work out, anyway.

Jones recorded a blistering 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine before news of the fracture became public, along with a combine-best standing broad jump of 11 feet, three inches. The performance caused some draft experts to suggest that Jones may as a result be the first wide receiver chosen in the draft, a distinction most had previously reserved only for Georgia's A.J. Green. Soon after Jones' combine workout, it was revealed that Jones was made aware of the stress fracture before the combine, and chose to compete anyway. Jones had a surgical pin inserted into his left foot Saturday, and recovery is expected to require six to eight weeks.

Efforts to reach Jones' agent were unsuccessful.

An injured throwing hand is expected to prevent McElroy from passing on Pro Day as well, although he has said he would be willing to perform drills that don't involve throwing passes. McElroy injured his thumb at the Senior Bowl, and is expected to perform privately for NFL teams after his hand heals.

Former UA offensive tackle James Carpenter also competed at the combine, but it is unclear which Pro Day events he will participate in.

For many of Alabama's other Pro Day participants, particularly the ones who did not receive a combine invitation, the event represents a chance to show NFL scouts they are worthy of a late draft pick. Typically, all or nearly all of Alabama's outgoing seniors participate.

Dareus, Jones and Ingram are expected to be first-round picks, and there has been some suggestion among draft experts that Dareus could be the first overall choice of the Carolina Panthers.

"He's keeping things grounded. There is definitely buzz that it could happen," France said. "We'll see what happens."

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase.goodbread@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0196. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/chasegoodbread



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