INDIANAPOLIS--Hectic first day at the combine that started with a nifty detour down by Kankakee thanks to the closing of Interstate 65 in Northwest Indiana. We're out trying to gather tidbits and nuggets, or we're going out to do just that.
We'll check back in more on Friday. Right now, let's cover the bases with some of the offensive linemen who visited with media today. Four questions from four linemen:
Q: What have your meetings with teams been like?
A: So far it was like the meetings where they ask you about your weight. Have you got in any trouble? No one has asked too many questions. No one really showed really too much interest in me. At the Senior Bowl I was with Cincinnati but they were actually coaching me so I didn't really get a feel for it. Nobody really tells you too much. Told me to get my weight up. Continue to work. Continue to perform.
Q: What was your weight?
A: My weight at the Senior Bowl was 291. Everyone said I was underweight for a left tackle but I did it a little ill at the Senior Bowl so my weight was down a little but I got it back up to 307. I think it was going from East Coast to West Coast. Played my Bowl game in Canada so all over the place eating a whole bunch of different foods. I wasn't used to it.
Q: How did you put on the weight?
A: To really gain weight all you got to do is eat. But I've been running a lot of 40s and working out, trying to stay in shape. Knowing you have to take your shirt off you don't just want to gain weight, you want to gain good weight. So gaining the weight is a little bit harder. The diet they had me on was basically eating chicken and salads. I don't know how much weight you gain eating chicken and salads but it worked.
Q: People say you have lot of upside. Maybe the most upside of anyone here?
A: I think I have a body that can get better. There's room for improvement. I always say that everyone has room for improvement. So I continue to say I can get better and every time I show up, I show up better.
Q: You were one of the biggest babies in Louisiana history, correct?
A: Yes. I was 15 pounds, 14 ounces. Born in Monroe, La.
Q: What did you weigh in at:
A: Weight? I'm 364 (pounds). I reported at LSU at 411 (as a freshman). I just didn't have the right information as far as nutrition. Right now, where I'm training at, Plex in Stafford, Texas (with trainer Danny Arnold), I sat down with a nutritionist and she said I was eating good food, but I just needed to break it up. They've got me down to six small meals a day. And I drink a gallon of water a day. I spend a little extra time doing cardio. The stuff that they prepare for us is stuff that I can cook.
Q: Were teams telling you to drop weight?
A: A lot of the teams were saying at the Senior Bowl, they said I looked good, but I just didn't see it. A lot of teams were saying it'd be even better if you could drop some weight and show us that you can lose the weight. I did all I could to drop as much weight as I could in as short a period of time as I had. A lot of teams were satisfied.
Q: How did the right tackle experiment at the Senior Bowl go?
A: It was a little weird at first because it's been a while since I've played right tackle. But after the coaching and getting adjusted, I felt real comfortable there. I'll play wherever they want me to play. If they want me to play left guard or right guard or right tackle, I'll do it. I'll do whatever it takes to play. A couple of teams are saying, we know what you can do at guard, but we also want to see what you can do at tackle. Playing guard the majority of my career, actually getting the start at right tackle in the Senior Bowl, everybody was a little surprised. A lot of people were saying that's amazing for a guy your size, adjusting to a new position. I think I did pretty good at it.
Q: Which of the 2008 draft class tackles have you watched?
A: I got to watch Jeff Otah a lot. Looked like he came in and did a good job of fitting in right away. Showed a lot of emotion. I watched him and he looked like a leader out there on the line. I liked to watch him from the past class.
Q: Do you look at taller guys?
A: My favorite player of all-time, Jonathan Ogden, he's about the same height as me, if not taller. Tra Thomas is a tall guy, Flozell Adams all those guys. I've always been watching those guys, to see if they can bend at the knees, not at the hip. You see a lot of guys get low and try to make us bend. I've just been paying attention to those things for a while now.
Q: Do you plan to work out at the combine?
A: I'm excited about the opportunity to compete, come out here and show what I've got compared to all the other guys.
Q: Why do you think you haven't been included in the top tier of tackles in this class?
A: I think I should. I don't know how that all that goes with the gradings and the rankings and all that stuff. All I can do is do everything I'm capable of. The film is on. The film doesn't lie. And then have a good showing here. That's all I can do. I can't control anything else, any rankings or any of that stuff. So I've got to continue to go hard here in the drills the next couple of days. The film doesn't lie. Just let it go from here.
Q: Do you consider yourself in the conversation with the other elite tackles in the draft.
A: To be honest, I feel that I'm the best at my position. I think I've proven that this year. In everything, I feel I'm going to grade at the top.
Q: Did it make a difference to the other people who played against you for them to learn about you in the book "The Blind Side" by Michael Lewis?
A: I never looked at it like that. There were a lot of people that I don't know coming up to me, saying that I feel that I know you and things like that, knowing that they know about me from the time I was a child up to the time I was about 18 or 19. And a lot of the problems that I had with my family and a lot of the struggles I went through, but things like that never bother me. I've been through a lot of stuff in my life. And things like this [the effects of the book] come easy and natural for me. A lot of times it goes in one ear and out the other.
Q: Which side will you play in the NFL?
A: I think I can play left or right. I'm not worried about the position I want to play. I'm just glad to be getting the opportunity to play in the NFL. Whatever they need me to play, that's where I'll play.
Q: How did your meeting with the Bears go?
A: I think it went really well. We talked for a long time. We talked about plays, technique, the things that. The coach up there (Harry Hiestand) is a great coach.