As the NFL prepares to begin its seven-day run in Indianapolis on Wednesday, two players hope repair their once lofty draft stock at the Scouting Combine.
Only three months removed from reconstructive knee surgery, running back Marcus Lattimore said NFL doctors will be "shocked" when they examine him at this week.
Appearing on South Carolina University's weekly sports radio program, "Inside the Roost," the former star said he's way ahead of schedule. Though he won't do physical drills at the combine, he said he'll start running Monday and then "it's game on."
Lattimore tore three ligaments and dislocated his right knee on Oct. 27 against Tennessee. He had surgery Nov. 7 and said he planned to play this fall.
He has been rehabbing under the supervision of Dr. James Andrews, a member of the team that performed the surgery. A Washington Redskins physician, Andrews will be at combine to answer questions about Lattimore's progress. He has reportedly told Lattimore that his recovery will "shock the world."
Meanwhile, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, better known for an embarrassing personal scandal than a great 2012 season in which he was the Heisman Trophy runner-up, seems realistic about what he must accomplish this week at the Combine.
In an interview with USA Today, Te'o said his infamous involvement with a fake online girlfriend won't impact his status in the April draft.
"I have to just go out there and perform, and all that other stuff is behind me," Te'o said. "What I did on the field is what I did on the field. I don't think what I did with this whole situation; I don't understand how it takes away from what I did on the field.
"As far as my stock dropping or rising, that's not up to me. The only thing I have to do is just do well, run fast, just be myself, be quick."
Most scouts agree, though, that Te'o's once phenomenal reputation already has been irreparably devalued. The naivety and immaturity shown by how he mishandled his personal crisis removed the luster most scouts associated with Te'o, whose ratings were enhanced by the perception of sensational intangibles that gave potential to be a team and locker room leader.
--The Baltimore Ravens plan to meet with Joe Flacco's agent this weekend in an initial attempt to hammer out a contract with the Super Bowl MVP, according to multiple reports.
Joe Linta is scheduled to be in Indianapolis at the Combine. The sides failed to agree on an extension last summer, and Flacco responded by leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory.
If the Ravens place the exclusive franchise tag on Flacco, they'd owe him $20.46 million for 2013 and he wouldn't be allowed to negotiate with other teams. Drew Brees is the league's highest-paid quarterback, at an average salary of $20 million a year, followed by Payton Manning at $18 million.
--The Atlanta Falcons hope to persuade tight end Tony Gonzalez to make one more Super Bowl run, according to an ESPN.com report.
Sources told the website that Gonzalez is wavering on his retirement plans, and the team would like to keep him in uniform for another season.
--The New York Jets released tackle Jason Smith, linebackers Calvin Pace and Bart Scott, and safety Eric Smith, creating about $35 million in salary-cap space.
Jason Smith was drafted second overall in 2009 by the St. Louis Rams. He didn't start a game for the Jets last season, but cost them $12 million. Pace earned slightly more than $11.5 million and Scott came in at $8.65 million. Eric Smith saves $3 million.