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Originally published February 22, 2014 at 5:59 PM | Page modified February 26, 2014 at 1:39 PM

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Austin Seferian-Jenkins not medically cleared for drills at NFL Scouting Combine

Former Washington tight end says pre-existing foot condition no major problem


Seattle Times staff reporter

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INDIANAPOLIS — Thursday, when Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins held his official meeting with the media at the NFL Scouting Combine, he spoke confidently of how he’d time in the 40-yard dash.

“I’m looking to run a 4.6-something,’’ he said.

But when the time came for tight ends to run Saturday, Seferian-Jenkins could only watch from the sideline, revealing later he was not medically cleared by the NFL to participate.

According to several reports, the tests revealed a pre-existing foot condition.

Seferian-Jenkins didn’t go into detail during an interview he gave to the NFL Network (he was not made available to other media members) and downplayed the injury, stating, “Everything is good. I’m fine. Just happened that I didn’t get medically cleared for whatever issues and can’t compete today, and that’s unfortunate.’’

Asked if he’d participate in UW’s Pro Day April 2, he said, “Don’t know.’’

How the injury will impact Seferian-Jenkins is hard to tell at this point. If he recovers well enough to do testing at some point between now and the NFL draft on May 8-10, it might turn out to be fairly irrelevant.

And even if he can’t, and assuming it’s an injury that is not serious, there are lots of stories of players coming off injuries who still get taken about where projected.

Seferian-Jenkins loomed as one of the more intriguing players in the draft as he has the perfect skill set for the new breed of ultra-athletic tight ends, but also is coming off a rocky final college season in which he had the lowest numbers of his three years at Washington and also was arrested for a DUI in the offseason.

In the NFL Network interview, Seferian-Jenkins seemed upbeat, saying there were “a lot of positives’’ from his time at the combine and predicting he would test well once healthy, be it at UW’s Pro Day or an individual workout.

“If I do have that workout, I am going to be ready,’’ he said.

Hawks say nothing official on Rice

When Seattle receiver Sidney Rice tweeted a goodbye to Seahawks fans Friday, it appeared to confirm earlier reports that the team was getting ready to release him, a move that has been long anticipated.

However, the Seahawks made no roster moves Saturday and Seattle coach Pete Carroll, in a brief comment as he walked through the media center at the combine, said he had nothing to pass along on Rice.

“I heard that (the report of Rice being released) but there’s nothing,’’ Carroll said. “I don’t know where that came from.’’

Seattle’s release of Rice would save big money for the Seahawks as Rice would be paid $17.5 million over the next two seasons. He also is still rehabbing a knee injury suffered at St. Louis Oct. 28.

Seattle is under no deadlines to release Rice other than needing to be under the NFL salary cap on March 11. The Seahawks are estimated to already be a few million under the cap, but will want to clear up space to sign their own free agents and pursue others during free agency.

Evaluating distractions

While the Seahawks have earned a reputation for making their team a success while also embracing players with all manner of backgrounds, Carroll said Friday he would back off of a player if he thought there was the potential he would create too much of a distraction.

“Sure, yeah,’’ Carroll said. “Just depends on what the nature of it is and how that’s going to fit in with the overall performance of a player in making him a really productive team member.’’

UCLA’s Marsh credits Mora

Former UCLA defensive lineman Cassius Marsh played his last two seasons with the Bruins for coach Jim Mora, a former UW player who also coached the Seahawks in 2009. Mora replaced former UW coach Rick Neuheisel, who coached at UCLA from 2008-11 before being fired.

Marsh said the difference between the two coaches was considerable.

“I love coach Mora, man,’’ Marsh said. “He’s a hands-on coach, a player’s coach, holds everyone accountable. It’s a very tough program now. …

“When I first got to UCLA, it was extremely soft and I thought about leaving and coach Mora came in and he changed everything, man. All that soft stuff was not acceptable, and he just completely flipped everything. Now it’s quite the opposite. We play great defense over there, it’s all about toughness, so he’s really been great.’’

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699

or bcondotta@seattletimes.com



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