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Friday, February 21, 2014
Day 2 at the combine: What we learned

By Field Yates

INDIANAPOLIS -- Here’s a rundown of what we learned on the second day of the 2014 NFL scouting combine.

1. Quiet on the Patriots front: There wasn’t much to pass along as it relates to news on the New England Patriots, though we did highlight the budding friendship between Tom Brady and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.

Talib
Talib
2. Free-agency thoughts: We’re a few weeks away from free agency, but teams are hard at work, as the combine serves as an opportunity for teams to meet with agents, who held their annual meeting Friday. Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio explained as much in a recent video with Patriots.com. Along these lines, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports the team will meet with cornerback Aqib Talib, a pending free agent, here in Indianapolis.

3. Bench press takes stage: The on-field workouts begin Saturday, but the physical testing has already begun. Tight ends, offensive linemen and specialists did the bench press Friday, with word from those inside that North Carolina center Russell Bodine led the way with 42 reps. Another player that impressed: Dixie State tight end Joe Don Duncan with 35 reps ... with a broken foot.

4. McCarron likens self to Brady: Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron had some Patriots-related thoughts, as he likened his game to Brady’s. He also proclaimed that the Patriots are the “Alabama of pro football.”

Harbaugh
5. Coaching trade thoughts: Word came out late Friday afternoon via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk that the Browns and 49ers nearly consummated a trade for San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh prior to Cleveland hiring Mike Pettine. Coaching trades aren’t common in the NFL, but the Patriots pulled one off with the Jets back in 2000 for Bill Belichick. Even if the price is steep (the Patriots shipped a first-round pick), finding the right coach is a wise long-term investment.

6. Odds and ends: Defensive end Jake Bequette turns 25 today ... Add Bill O’Brien to those who value big hands on quarterbacks ... The Ravens won't rush to make a decision on the future of running back Ray Rice ... John Elway is aiming to sign head coach John Fox to a contract extension ... We appreciate the candor of Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who admitted he hasn’t had time to study college prospects yet as he transitions into his new job. His first tasks in Minnesota involve laying his own foundation ... We also admire the confidence of Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. That appeared to trickle down to his team in their resurgent 2013 season.