NFL Combine: Former Temple star Haason Reddick ready to open eyes

NFL Combine: Former Temple star Haason Reddick ready to open eyes

INDIANAPOLIS -- There's a good chance on April 27 that Temple's Haason Reddick will become a first-round pick just across the river from his hometown and in the city where his football career was given new life. 

"It's like I'm living in a dream," Reddick said at the NFL combine Saturday, "and I don't have to wake up."

You'll surely forgive Reddick for getting slightly poetic. His story is one that certainly warrants it. 

Reddick, 22, is from Camden, New Jersey, and went to Haddon Heights High School where he was a really good player; a safety at that time. But injuries to his right knee in his junior and senior seasons kept him off the field and left him without any game tape or hope of playing college football. 

He applied to two schools: Rutgers and Temple. He got into just one. But even then, he didn't think he would be able to play on the Temple football team. It's not that he didn't think he was good enough … it's that he didn't know he would be allowed. 

"I didn't know that you could walk on," Reddick said, retelling the story at his combine media availability Saturday. "I thought my football career was over after high school."

Really, it was just beginning. 

At the time, Reddick's father was "poking around," trying to see if there was any way to get his son on the football team. Luckily a guy named Francis Brown, who was a graduate assistant for the Owls at the time, was a family friend. Brown, who is now the defensive backs coach for Baylor, helped Reddick become a preferred walk-on at Temple. From there, Reddick was buried on the depth chart until Matt Rhule took over the program in 2013. 

Reddick became a contributor and then a starting defensive end before finally earning a scholarship before his redshirt senior season in 2016.  

Within a few short years, Reddick has gone from thinking his football days were over after limping off a high school field to potentially being taken in the first round of the NFL draft. 

"Of course I've seen it," Reddick said of the first-round buzz. "I don't try to pay attention to it, just because you never know what can happen. People rise and fall every day depending on what a team needs or what a team thinks about somebody. It's great to see those things. It's great to see that some people think I'm worthy of being a first-round draft pick. 

"Hopefully come draft time, that's what it is. But until then, I’m going to continue to work hard and approach every day with a dominant approach." 

This is an important week for Reddick, as it is for the other 329 combine participants. Do well and watch the draft stock soar. Mess up and watch it plummet. But if the trend from the last couple of months continues, Reddick will keep climbing up draft boards. 

"I'm very much a Haason Reddick guy," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said on a conference call earlier this week. "And if he tests well at the combine, I think he's going to come from nowhere to being, at worst, a second-round pick and perhaps a late first-round pick."

A big step for Reddick came at the Senior Bowl in January. It's there where Reddick was listed as a linebacker and got a chance to show he could play a new position against some of the best competition in the country. He was one of the best players on the field. 

The week in Mobile, Alabama, for the Senior Bowl was an important one for Reddick in his transition to the NFL. While he's lumped with defensive linemen at the combine, he's clearly projected to be a linebacker in the NFL. Some teams view him as an outside linebacker and some an inside. And he likes things about both spots. Ideally, he said, he'll end up with a team that uses him at both. But if he doesn't, it won't be a big deal to him, he said. 

"This whole journey has been nothing but hard work for me," Reddick said. "A lot of people think that because I'm here now, the hard work is over. The hard work for me is not over. I'm going to continue to work hard. I’m going to continue to make sure I have a prosperous career in the NFL."

As of Saturday afternoon, Reddick wasn’t sure if he was going to take part in linebacker and defensive linemen drills Sunday but was more than up for it if he got the chance. 

Reddick is hoping to run a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash and said he has another bigger goal in mind for himself but wanted to keep it hidden. He said if he reaches the goal everyone will know. 

After all Reddick has overcome, it wouldn't be smart to bet against him. 

NFL Notes: Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott sits out OTAs after minor car crash

NFL Notes: Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott sits out OTAs after minor car crash

FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was a passenger in a minor car accident and is missing the first three offseason practices as a precaution.

Elliott, the 2016 NFL rushing champion as a rookie, bumped his head in the crash Sunday night, but running backs coach Gary Brown said Wednesday that Elliott doesn't have a concussion.

Coach Jason Garrett said Elliott would miss the third practice of the week Thursday after sitting the first two sessions with soreness and neck stiffness. Garrett said Elliott was expected to practice next week.

Elliott, who made the All-Pro team after Dallas drafted him No. 4 overall last year, finished with 1,631 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns, both club rookie records.

Redskins: Cousins expects negotiations to go to deadline
ASHBURN, Va. -- Kirk Cousins is getting valuable snaps on the practice field going into his third season as a starter. The Washington Redskins quarterback is also getting just as many chances to answer questions about a long-term contract.

Cousins is facing the prospect of playing a second consecutive season on the franchise tag with a July 15 deadline looming for he and the Redskins to agree on a deal. With less than two months until the deadline, he doesn't seem concerned and doesn't expect anything to happen until the calendar flips to July.

"Deadlines do deals," Cousins said Wednesday after the team's second session of organized team activities. "That's just kind of a rule in negotiating, so why would something happen way before a deadline? It just doesn't make sense. I'm not in a hurry, they're not in a hurry, so we'll just see how things go. I'm being patient."

Cousins said July 15 will be a "telling date" as it was last summer when there was no deal done and he was locked into playing on the franchise tag . After breaking his own franchise record with 4,917 passing yards while making just under $20 million last season, the Michigan State product would make about $24 million this year if he doesn't get a long-term contract.

Cousins one-year salary would be the second-highest of any NFL QB, behind only Cam Newton. But a multi-year agreement would speak volumes about what the organization thinks of the 28-year-old Cousins. Team president Bruce Allen said Monday there is a "constant dialogue" with agent Mike McCartney and that the July 15 deadline would be the driver toward a deal.

Cousins described the talks as "positive," and Allen said he was still optimistic about getting a deal done (see full story).

Browns: Top pick Garrett sits out with a ‘little nick’
BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns are not taking any chances with Myles Garrett, their No. 1 draft pick and $30 million investment.

Garrett is being kept off the practice field by the team this week because of an unspecified injury. The former Texas A&M star would not disclose his medical issue on Wednesday, but said it's nothing significant.

"They just wanted to be cautious about a little nick," Garrett said. "But I'll be back out there next week. I want to be out there. They're holding me right now. But I'll be out there full tilt next week."

Garrett signed a four-year, $30 million contract last week and the Browns aren't taking any chances with their prized first selection. Coach Hue Jackson indicated Garrett might be dealing with something following last week's rookie minicamp, but he didn't reveal Garrett's problem.

"He'll be fine," Jackson said. "Obviously I'm just going to very cautious with guys. Anytime guys have a little soreness, I want to make sure we're totally healthy. I think when we had the rookie minicamp there was a little soreness. I just wanted to make sure that was out before we stuck him out there again" (see full story).

Vikings: Bridgewater recovery still uncertain despite progress
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Teddy Bridgewater has reached the point in rehabilitation where he's able to drop back to pass on his surgically repaired left knee.

Just when the 24-year-old quarterback might return to live action with the Minnesota Vikings remains largely unknown.

"Just hoping that eventually he'll be able to come back on the field, but that's still the unknown," said general manager Rick Spielman, who clarified Wednesday that Bridgewater has not been given the green light for full practice.

That's predictable, considering he's less than nine months removed from the dislocation, torn ACL and other ligament damage that occurred to his knee during a non-contact drill .

But the Vikings raised some optimism about Bridgewater's recovery Tuesday by posting to their website a 38-second, slow-motion video clip of him taking a handful of drop-backs and throws. Their first organized on-field offseason workout was closed to the media.

"We wanted to at least put something out there to show that this is part of his rehab," Spielman said (see full story).

NFL: Pro Bowl returning to Orlando for second consecutive year
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Pro Bowl will return to Orlando in 2018 for the second straight year.

Orlando will host the Pro Bowl on Jan. 28, 2018, at 3 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN and ABC, the NFL announced Wednesday. Last season, the NFL played its all-star game in Orlando for the first time at Camping World Stadium.

The NFL has a two-year deal with an option for a third year to play the Pro Bowl in Orlando.

The 2018 game will feature the AFC vs. NFC format, which returned last season.

Supplement-free Lane Johnson heaviest he's ever been, feels he has much to prove

Supplement-free Lane Johnson heaviest he's ever been, feels he has much to prove

It's only natural to have some reservations about Lane Johnson after he was suspended for 10 games last season for his second violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. One more positive test and the Eagles will lose their starting right tackle for two full years.

Fortunately, Johnson seems determined to avoid any future run-ins with the league. The 27-year-old changed his entire approach this offseason, cutting out negative influences or any other voices at all while preparing for the 2017 season.

"I just trained by myself back in Oklahoma," Johnson said after the Eagles' first full-team practice of OTAs on Tuesday. "Trained by myself and everything went good. I came back, my body weight is about 325, so I'm heavier than I've ever been. I feel in good shape, and I have a lot to prove, so it's a big year for me.

"I did everything by myself. There wasn't going to be any mishaps."

Two suspensions totaling 14 games later, Johnson has gained a healthy fear of being unknowingly steered toward an illegal supplement.

Johnson tested positive for PEDs before the season last year after taking a banned substance known as peptides and was eventually slapped with the full 10-game penalty after a lengthy appeal process. The fifth-year veteran always maintained peptides were not listed on the label of the offending supplement.

Johnson filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the players' association in November after the suspension was upheld. Its status is ongoing.

Johnson also served a four-game suspension in 2014.

When he's not in trouble with the league office, Johnson is a vital cog in the Eagles' offense. They went 5-1 with him and 2-8 without him last season.

"I feel like whenever I'm playing, I try to be the best right tackle in the NFL," Johnson said. "My deal is to just stay on the field, play a complete season, and I think it will be a big year for me."

Johnson isn't concerned about losing a competitive edge, physically or mentally, after dropping supplements altogether.

"I've always been the athlete that I am," Johnson said. "That's what I'll continue to prove. I'm gonna go play and show people what I can do."

Signed in January 2016 to a five-year contract extension worth $56 million, Johnson has plenty to prove. He was working out in place of 35-year-old left tackle Jason Peters, who wasn't at the start of OTAs, on Tuesday and is expected to one day replace the nine-time Pro Bowl selection permanently.

Despite his checkered past, it sounds like Johnson knows exactly what's on the line, which is why he chose to go it alone this offseason. The only person you can trust is yourself.

Then again, Johnson still has his vices, which might raise some eyebrows with the news he's up to 325 pounds — eight more than his listed weight.

"My big deal is cutting out the ice cream, the Ben & Jerry's late at night — the stuff you want to indulge in," Johnson said. "If you get me on an ice cream binge, it's not good."

The Eagles can probably deal with a little extra ice cream, just as long as Johnson remains committed to keeping dodgy supplements out of his body.