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Combing the Combine: Friday's Notes

INDIANAPOLIS – There was a plethora of coaches and general managers on display at Day 2 of the NFL Combine. Thirteen coaches addressed the media, with the most interesting to Patriots fans being the Jets Eric Mangini.

Mangini explained why he decided to add former New England receivers coach Brian Daboll to his staff. Daboll accepted a job to become the Jets quarterbacks coach last week.

"I worked with Brian a long time in New England," Mangini said. "He actually was my assistant in the secondary when he first started. We spent two years together there. Then in watching him develop as a receivers coach and competing against him, I really respected him in terms of not just as a person but what he did with the guys he had this year and what he did when he was working directly with me."

Other coaches of interest included Lovie Smith, Tony Dungy, Brad Childress and Tom Coughlin.

Smith said the Bears are in the process of hiring new coaches and briefly addressed his current contract situation.

"I have a contract and would like to be the Chicago Bears coach for the rest of my career," he said. "Negotiations are ongoing and I don't see any reason why we wouldn't get a deal done."

Smith's coaching counterpart in the Super Bowl, Dungy, is already preparing the Colts for their upcoming title defense.

"I just sent out a letter to all the players that said there have been 40 previous Super Bowl winners and only eight of those teams repeated the next year," Dungy said. "We know what lies ahead of us and what we need to do."

The Patriots bombed Minnesota this year behind Tom Brady's 372 yards passing and four touchdowns. New England only ran the ball eight times in that game and Childress was asked how he plans to defend teams in the future that attack the Vikings strictly through the air.

"First of all, the Patriots are set up just a little differently," Childress said. "You have to have that trigger puller who can do that. You have to have the personnel you feel comfortable with spreading the field. They have a unique ability to play from an empty backfield. And really, they made a conscious decision. They ran it the second play of the game and got hit in the nose. And then from then on, nobody was in the backfield. I think you certainly have to be set up to play against that. I think the more athletes that we're able to procure helps you cover those guys."

The most interesting moment of the day came when Coughlin fired back at Tiki Barber for comments he made about the coach being too tough on his players, resulting in them wearing down during the season.

"It disappoints me and it hurts because I hold this player in high regard," Coughlin said. "Coaching is making players do what they don't want to do so they can become what they want to become. Look at Tiki's production since our staff arrived. I think the numbers speak for themselves."

Notes

--The Browns won a coin toss with the Buccaneers and will now select third in the draft, while Tampa Bay picks in the fourth slot.

--Colts President Bill Polian had some high praise for all the final four teams playing in the AFC playoffs, a group that produced the eventual Super Bowl XLI champion Indianapolis. "The four teams that played on Divisional Weekend, any one of them could have won the Super Bowl."

--Shortly after his own press conference had finished and upon hearing NFL PR rep Steve Alic announce that Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn would enter the media room in a half hour, Brown's GM Phil Savage joked, "Can I get a credential for that?" The Browns hold the third selection in April's draft and could be considering drafting a quarterback to build around.

--Ohio State wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez is taking a straightforward approach to the psychological tests that are a part of the overall process at the Combine. "I'll just go in and be as honest as I can be. I don't think I'm crazy. Hopefully, nobody does."

Gonzalez went on to say that the hardest part of the Combine and pre-draft process is flying solo after so many years playing as part of a larger group.

"The hardest part of this whole process is not having teammates. It's just being a person, just one guy trying to train so that he can get drafted the highest. It's difficult not being with teammates and having that bond and that brotherhood you get from being on a team. I just want to get picked. I want a team. I want to meet people. I want to have coaches, have a team and try to win football games."

--Current Dolphins head coach and former San Diego offensive coordinator Cam Cameron had some interesting and somewhat scary comments about Chargers offensive stars LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. "Those two guys, they haven't played their best football yet. I know that. They know that." Opposing defenses take note.

Cameron was also asked about current and soon to be former Patriots running back Corey Dillon.

"Obviously, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I competed against him when he was at Cincinnati. It's funny you ask that question because I remember standing in the corner of the end zone before our game against New England in the playoffs and sure enough Corey Dillon comes running right - there's some things I didn't realize about him. When he went by, I understood why people bounce off him so much. He is a man - just a tremendous amount of respect. You probably take your hats off to a guy that knows maybe when it's time to move on, but just a tremendous amount of respect for him. New England is no different from the rest of us. When a great player like that decides to move on, you have to find a way to have someone fill in."

--The Patriots may have found their next outside linebacker. Unfortunately for them, 6-5, 265-pound JaMarcus Russell plays quarterback, not linebacker. Russell drew one of the largest media crowds of the day and already looked like an NFL veteran, directing reporters and looking calm up at the podium. Russell also said he can throw the ball over 80 yards, so it sounds like he would be a perfect fit for the Raiders vertical passing attack.

--RB Michael Bush – a former high school basketball player – once squared off against LeBron James. "We held him to just five points in the first half. The problem was he finished the game with 37."

--Former Notre Dame RB Darius Walker said he didn't talk to Head Coach Charlie Weis until after he made his decision to leave school early and enter the NFL draft.

"I knew what Coach Weis would say. He made it quite clear how he felt about juniors coming out early. He's a straight shooter. You know exactly what you're going to get from him. He told me that he was disappointed for the program but wished me luck. The whole meeting only lasted about five minutes."

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