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Saturday, February 22, 2014
Day 3 at the combine: What we learned

By Field Yates

INDIANAPOLIS -- The third day of the NFL combine -- and the first for on-field work -- is in the books.

Let's recap what we learned.

Ebron
1. Tight ends dazzle. The New England Patriots' top positional need might be tight end, and the group was on display today. It did not disappoint, as top tight ends ran exceptionally well in the 40-yard dash. With Rob Gronkowski recovering from an ACL tear (and subsequent surgery), the team has just one healthy tight end on the roster, D.J. Williams. Eric Ebron (North Carolina) and Jace Amaro (Texas Tech) are among the standouts.

2. Local tight end results. A trio of tight ends from Massachusetts are at the combine, and two worked out today. Arthur Lynch (Georgia) put up 28 reps on the bench press and ran a 4.82, and Richard Rodgers (Cal) put up 16 reps and ran a 4.87. Rob Blanchflower (UMass) continues to recover from a sports hernia surgery.

3. Sam takes center stage. In front of what was perhaps the largest media crowd for a prospect in combine history, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam fielded questions from reporters. The 2013 SEC co-defensive player of the year showed tremendous maturity and poise in our estimation. He said he's ready to take on the NFL challenge.

Clowney
4. Clowney does too. South Carolina Jadaveon Clowney, who might be taken with the first overall pick in the draft, also addressed the media. He expressed his desire to be one of the best to ever play the game, and also conceded that he probably would have declared for the draft after his sophomore season if he were eligible.

5. Defensive coaches arrive. On a Patriots-specific front, many of their defensive coaches showed up on Friday for the forthcoming days of defensive player weigh-ins and workouts. Some of the offensive coaches will begin to depart as their respective positions finish up their combine responsibilities.

6. Odds and ends. Browns head coach Mike Pettine is ignoring the noise following the latest report that the team attempted to hire Jim Harbaugh prior to naming Pettine to his position. ... Jeff Fisher has never drafted an offensive lineman in the first round as a head coach. Auburn's Greg Robinson might convince him to buck that trend this season. ... The Colts don't have a first-round pick this year, but their GM is curious about who his division rivals will take. ... The Lions could be looking for a wide receiver to pair with Calvin Johnson. ... Good news for everyone: The NFL's salary cap could approach $132 million for 2014.