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How new combine setup affects access

2/19/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kevin Seifert, Paul Kuharsky, Tim Graham, John Clayton and I are among the first reporters set up inside Lucas Oil Stadium for the first media-accessible combine day.

The setup is different from past combines and less conducive to tracking down various team personnel. Coaches and scouts are entering from another side of the stadium. They do not walk past the media area while heading to and from the field area. Frigid, windy conditions outside the stadium make NFL personnel less interested in stopping to chat, and I cannot blame them. It's brutally cold outside.

In past years, team personnel walked past the media area in the warmth of the convention center, which led directly to the since-demolished RCA Dome. Stopping to chat was much easier under those conditions. I'll spend quite a bit of time speaking with NFL people and agents in various hotel lobbies and restaurants this week, always a valuable way to renew contacts and make new ones. That aspect is what makes the combine so valuable beyond the scheduled interviews and news conferences.

The NFL has scheduled Thursday news conferences for Lions coach Jim Schwartz, Colts coach Jim Caldwell, Falcons coach Mike Smith, Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert, Saints coach Sean Payton, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, Redskins coach Jim Zorn and Raiders coach Tom Cable. We will also have access to select offensive linemen, tight ends and specialists.

What does this mean from an NFC West perspective? We'll probably focus on offensive linemen given division teams' obvious needs on the line. The Cardinals could also use a tight end. 

The media schedule for Friday is not yet firm, but the league has tentatively scheduled availability for 49ers coach Mike Singletary, 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan, former Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo. Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and Cardinals GM Rod Graves are expected to answer questions Saturday.