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AP: Leinart, Bush work out for NFL coaches, scouts


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Associated Press


LOS ANGELES - Matt Leinart rolled to his left, and then back to his right before unleashing a perfectly thrown pass to Reggie Bush, who caught it some 30 yards downfield just inside the right sideline.

Just like it was drawn up, and the fans at Howard Jones Field cheered politely.

Then, it was on to the next play at USC's Pro Day on Sunday, where 19 former Southern California players worked out for more than 100 NFL representatives including head coaches John Fox of Carolina, Jeff Fisher of Tennessee and Gary Kubiak of Houston.

Most of the 19 are sure to be drafted later this month, including anywhere from three to six in the first round.

Thus, the large turnout, and those on hand were properly impressed.

"This is like a mini-combine, from an NFL standpoint," Fox said.

The majority of prospective prospects take part in the NFL Combine at Indianapolis every February, but several schools hold their own Pro Days.


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some excerpts..

As for the on-field spectaculars, Justice, who still must resolve some old character issues for scouts before the draft, was the player who inarguably helped himself the most. He checked in at 6-foot-6¼ and 320 pounds, carried his weight well, and performed admirably in every drill.

In the vertical jump, Justice did 39 inches, an incredible mark for such a big man. He registered 38 "repetitions" in the bench press. Justice pulled up toward the end of the 40-yard drill, clutching his right hamstring, but one AFC scout still said he clocked him at 5.03 seconds.

In the pass-block drills, Justice, who has the kind of wing span scouts love (34½ inches) in pass protectors, looked very agile and naturally athletic, despite the sore hamstring.

"Happy with what I did and happy it's over," said Justice, who missed time during his career because of two off-field incidents, one of which included pulling a pellet gun on a USC student. "We'll just have to see where it goes from here."

Where the talented Justice could be going, according to coaches and scouts, is perhaps into the top 10 in the draft. Fox noted that there are teams that like Justice a little better than they do D'Brickashaw Ferguson of Virginia, the consensus No. 1 tackle in the draft pool.

"On tape, he's a player, a first-rounder," Fox said. "And that's ultimately what you're looking at when you make the final evaluation. But, yeah, Justice sure jumped out today. He could climb higher [in the first round] now, no doubt."

Two other offensive linemen, guards Taitusi Lutui and Fred Matua, were also impressive. Lutui looks like a prototype NFL guard, thick and girthy, at 330 pounds, and naturally powerful. Matua, the lesser-celebrated of the two, was 301 pounds Sunday but performed as many "reps" on the bench press as did Lutui (26) and ran considerably faster (5.06-5.33) in the 40.

As for Leinart? He displayed some athleticism by turning in a 37-inch vertical jump. He completed 36 of 45 passes by unofficial count, with three drops by his receivers. His accuracy was good, not great, and his arm strength was adequate. It appeared, at times, that he aimed the ball a bit too much and some balls sailed on him. Leinart conceded afterwards that he probably pressed a little.

"In situations like these," Leinart said, "I think you tend to overdo it. You know, you try to throw a ball too hard, and it goes high, or you try to be too fine with your passes. I think I started off too tight."

Not as tight as LenDale White, the other half of the USC tailback tandem, and the man who holds the school record for touchdowns. Still nursing a sore hamstring he said he sustained at the combine sessions in Indianapolis nearly six weeks ago, White looked soft and performed only in the bench press drill, where he eked out just 15 lifts. He rarely removed his track suit and, when he did, White looked soft. He weighed in at 244 pounds, six pounds heavier than he was at the combine.

White didn't seem concerned about not being able to work out. "I'm the only true big back in the first round, and people who want the physical runner are going to have to look at me," he said.

Several personnel directors emphasized, though, that time is running out on White, who has yet to be timed in the 40.

"At some point, and real soon, he's got to take off that warm-up suit and run," said one of the head coaches on hand. "No one has a 40-time on him and that's not good."

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