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January 22, 2008

Bowman adjusting to competition level

More Senior Bowl coverage

MOBILE, Ala. Oklahoma State wide receiver Adarius Bowman will be the first to tell you he wasn't happy with his play through two days of practice, mainly because of dropped passes.

Bowman said it's taken him a while to adjust.

"It's just been a big transition for me from college to the pros," he said. "It's a quicker tempo. The biggest thing is it's just a faster pace. You have to be able to learn quickly and just adapt. I compare it a lot like the transition from high school to college; it will just take a little time."

Bowman said another thing the practice structure hasn't allowed him to showcase is his physical attributes as a wide receiver.

"I wouldn't say I'm nervous, but I might be thinking a little too much," he said. "I'm not in my comfort zone yet.

"I think my frame and my strength are my biggest advantages. I also feel my biggest advantage is my 'YAC yards' -- the yards after the catch. I like to break tackles and get going, and I really can't do that until the game."

Family connection

The lessons don't stop when practice ends for Texas safety Marcus Griffin this week. He apparently gets just as much instruction on the phone.

Griffin's twin, Tennessee Titans defensive back Michael Griffin, watched Monday's Senior Bowl practice on the NFL Network and called his brother/former teammate with pointers later in the day.

"He was telling me how to backpedal," Griffin said after Tuesday's South team practice. "He was giving me clues the Tennessee Titans taught him. He kept on bothering me last night. I guess I wouldn't respond. He was just trying to keep me up on my 'A' game as much as possible."

Griffin doesn't mind if his brother nags him a little bit. He credits his sibling for helping him know what to expect in the months leading up to the draft.

"He tells me to go full speed every chance you get," Griffin said. "Show the coaches you're willing to go full speed, and don't have any lazy steps. And aside from that, just take it day by day.

"One thing I learned from him is don't stress so much. This is an opportunity not a lot of us get to have."

Trying to get noticed

Where did Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie play college ball? Don't know? Don't feel bad. Not many people know the answer.

Rodgers-Cromartie is an athletic 6-foot-2, 181-pounder who played cornerback at Division I-AA Tennessee State. He played cornerback and safety in the first two days of practice, and he said NFL teams seem intrigued with his athleticism and quickness.

Rodgers-Cromartie had interception returns for touchdowns in back-to-back games late in the season. He had a 69-yarder against Eastern Illinois and a 71-yarder against Murray State. Rodgers-Cromartie also is the reigning Ohio Valley Conference champion in the 60-yard-dash, the high jump and the long jump.

"Not being on TV much and being from a small school, you're not really noticed, so coming out here and playing against these guys gives me an opportunity to show people what I can do," said Rodgers-Cromartie, who also was overlooked coming out of high school at Bradenton (Fla.) Lakewood Ranch. "At first, you come out here and you're like, 'These guys are D-I.' But then you realize it's just football."

Injury bug bites

North Carolina defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer isn't a household name to most fans, but his exceptional senior season has made him a legitimate candidate to get taken in the first round.

But Balmer won't get a chance to further impress this week as he withdrew from the Senior Bowl because of an injury. A minor injury also caused Miami linebacker Tavares Gooden to back out.

Georgia Tech linebacker Gary Guyton has replaced Gooden on the South roster. Iowa State defensive end Athyba Rubin also has joined the South team as a replacement for Auburn defensive end Quentin Groves, who pulled out over the weekend. Both played in last weekend's East-West Shrine Game in Houston.

LSU wide receiver Early Doucet and UNLV linebacker Beau Bell suffered minor injuries Tuesday that makes their status uncertain for the rest of the week.

Caldwell doing well

When Andre Caldwell arrived at Florida before the 2003 season, his intention Florida was to stay for three seasons, then test the NFL waters.

That plan was delayed when he broke his leg against Tennessee early in the 2005 season and missed the rest of the year. Still, his time in Gainesville was well-spent: He finished his UF career as the school's career receptions leader.

Now he's ready to continue to show off for pro scouts. On the first two days of practice, Caldwell consistently got open against some of the nation's best cornerbacks.

"I'm satisfied with the way things are going," he said. "I'm making a lot of plays, improving every day and just being the playmaker I am. It's very rewarding to be out here with these guys and making plays with them and getting to know people."

So, let's talk about your personal life

As with many players, LSU linebacker Ali Highsmith has heard through the grapevine about the bizarre questions draft prospects are asked by scouts and team personnel members. Tuesday, Highsmith joked that he had experienced those bizarre questions first hand.

"They asked me questions about my girlfriend," Highsmith said. "I never expected that. They just asked about our relationship and if we are still together and stuff like that."

Peyton's place

Arkansas fullback Peyton Hillis said he cared more about opening holes for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones than the stat sheet and the limelight. Being a bruising, tough, versatile player is what got him to this point, and he's enjoying every minute.

"I know what kind of athletes they are," Hillis said. "They're great guys and they're going to have success at the next level. It's a pleasure just to know them. There's a reason why I'm here. People say, 'You open up holes for them.' Well, they got me here."

Hillis did a little bit of everything for the Razorbacks, who lost to Missouri 38-7 in the Cotton Bowl to finish 8-5. He led the team with 44 receptions for 485 yards and five touchdowns, and also rushed for 327 yards and two scores on 57 carries.

Most important, he blocked for McFadden, who ended his career as the school's leading career rusher with 4,590 yards, and Jones, who also had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Both juniors declared early for the NFL Draft.

Hillis said he is quickly adjusting to his role as mainly a blocker at the Senior Bowl. "Instead of three or four things to worry about, now you just have to worry about one - hitting the guy," he said.

Impressive start

NFL scouts and personnel people have converged on the Senior Bowl to analyze the players, and their evaluations range from handing out questionnaires to chatting in hotel lobbies to measuring hand and arm length.

One NFC team scout who has talked with Rivals.com said two prospects on the North team particularly intrigued him.

The first was 6-5, 345-pound Nebraska offensive tackle Carl Nicks. The other was 5-11, 181-pound Indiana cornerback Tracy Porter, who had an interception early during drills.



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