April 13, 2008, 12:30AM
Receiver's rant after weak 40 time is sure to rub NFL types wrong way
By JOHN McCLAIN
Last week, Oklahoma receiver Malcolm Kelly did one of the dumbest things a prospect can do before the draft. He ran a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash and publicly blamed everyone from the Sooners' strength and rehab staff to the surface to the coaches everyone but himself.
No one in the NFL will come out and say it, but being that stupid not to mention that slow — this close to the draft, especially when he's supposed to be among the first receivers selected, is going to cost Kelly a lot of money.
Then Kelly went on to blame team doctors for what he claimed was misdiagnosing a thigh injury that kept him out of the Fiesta Bowl and the scouting combine.
"Certain people have tried to hold me down, and they know who they are," Kelly told reporters. "I wouldn't say the whole OU coaching staff, but certain people, I would say that."
Kelly blamed the Sooners for his workout being moved indoors, where he ran on Field Turf, rather than the center with AstroTurf, where he had been training. Scouts, not the Sooners, moved the workout.
Kelly said team doctors had told him he had a deep thigh bruise but a later MRI showed he had suffered a partial tear in his quadriceps.
"They told me it was a thigh bruise and to try and play through it," he said. "A deep thigh bruise hurts. You're in lot of pain, but it doesn't feel like someone is pulling at it or stabbing you in the leg.
"I tried to tell everybody it was worse than a thigh bruise. They told me it wasn't that bad, to go out there and run, that it was all in my mind. If I had gone out there in the bowl game and run full speed, where would I be? Nowhere. I'd be sitting at home right now rehabbing.
"Then people say, trust in what they say, they're not going to steer you wrong.
"If I had sat out from the time I messed it up, I would've been ready a week before the bowl game and could've played. It frustrates me a whole lot, the fact that I could've played and the fact that I knew it was something else and I was being told differently.
"I sat out the game. People were mad. But I wasn't going to injure myself or go out there and run half-speed and mess up the team."
Kelly will have another workout before the draft so scouts can see him run on AstroTurf. No matter how fast he runs, the damage has already been done. If he drops a few spots, it could cost him a lot of money.
Stock going up
Here are some players whose stock is going up as we get closer to the draft: Virginia left tackle Branden Albert, Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey, Virginia Tech offensive tackle Duane Brown, Texas running back Jamaal Charles, Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm, Houston receiver Donnie Avery, Arizona cornerback Antoine Cason, Virginia Tech cornerback Brandon Flowers, Tennessee linebacker Jerod Mayo, Purdue outside linebacker Cliff Avril, Appalachian State receiver Dexter Jackson and LSU cornerback Chevis Jackson.
Stock going down
Here are some players whose stock is going down as we get closer to the draft: Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib, Oklahoma receiver Malcolm Kelly, Michigan receiver Mario Manningham, California receiver DeJean Jackson, South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins, Michigan State receiver Devin Thomas, Miami defensive end Calais Campbell, Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson and USC offensive tackle Sam Baker.
Even though they lost cornerbacks Asante Samuel and Randall Gay in free agency, there's no guarantee the Patriots will use their first pick seventh overall on one of the top corners.
The Patriots could take an outside linebacker like USC's Keith Rivers for an infusion of youth to a veteran core.
Based on their history, it won't be surprising if the Patriots try to trade down and pick up additional picks.
No Pacman news
The Cowboys are acting as if their interest in Tennessee cornerback Pacman Jones is waning if the Titans continue to ask for a fourth-round pick this year and a conditional pick next year. The Cowboys are offering a sixth-round selection.
"We're just waiting," coach Wade Phillips said. "If something happens we'll go forward with it."
The Cowboys are desperate for a cornerback. Fans and media compare them bringing in receiver Terrell Owens last year with Jones this year. But the difference is that Jones has been in trouble with police at least 11 times, and Owens hasn't experience off-the-field problems.
"When you talk about Terrell, that guy was exemplary last year, so it's hard for me to say how he was before," Phillips said. "I had heard a lot of things.
There had been controversy in his career, but we didn't see any of that. That wasn't the guy I saw.
"I think it was him doing all the right things, which is what we ask him do, and most players will do what you ask them to do. Talk to them, and the team's important to them. They'll try to do what's best for everybody."
Titans coach Jeff Fisher talked to Jones about the team until he was blue in the face, but it didn't do any good.
Advice from Steve McNair
For Tennessee Titans fans who fret that quarterback Vince Young doesn't have enough weapons, Steve McNair says to be patient.
McNair believes new offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger will have a positive impact on Young and the offense. When McNair started working with Heimerdinger, the Titans didn't have a lot of weapons at receiver, and yet they flourished together.
Now that Heimerdinger has returned to Tennessee to run its offense again and to coach Young, McNair is confident it will happen again.
"It's been proven when I was here," McNair said. "His system, his style of play and the way he teaches the offense, it's going to overcome some personnel (issues).
"He's one of those coaches that's real strict, real demanding. He teaches real Xs and Os, what a quarterback is all about, and I think he'll help (Young) out tremendously over the course of his career here.
"As a player, you're trying to get better, and as a coach, he's trying to make you better. You're always going to have those little disagreements, but you're all in it for the same thing."
Excited about Thomas
After he was released by Miami, middle linebacker Zach Thomas wanted to come home to Texas. He signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys for $3 million. He's ticketed to start inside.
"I think Zach is important in that he was in the Pro Bowl seven years in a row and then got hurt last year," coach Wade Phillips said. "We think he can come back and be a viable player. You're potentially adding a Pro Bowl player to your defense. I think that's very important.
"We started our offseason program, and he's there. He's that kind of guy. We're pleased with him. We've got some good players certainly, but you're always trying to add to it, and I think he's a great addition."
Thomas was scheduled to visit the Texans but cancelled when the Cowboys made him an offer.
Trouble in Cincinnati
Not only does Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson want out of Cincinnati in the worst way, but the Bengals' other Pro Bowl receiver, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, wants a new contract. Imagine what training camp would be like with both of them in the stands holding out.
Remember, the Bengals waived receiver Chris Henry after he had another off-the-field incident.
Most mock drafts have the Bengals taking USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis with the ninth pick. Word is, though, that the Bengals might trade down and select a receiver just in case.
No receiver is rated high enough to be the ninth pick in the first round.
No problem at CB
It seems as if the Saints are always looking for cornerbacks, but with the addition of Randall Gay in free agency to go with Mike McKenzie and Jason David, it shouldn't be a priority in the draft.
David didn't play well in his first season with the Saints after leaving the Colts.
"I expect Jason to play and play well this season," coach Sean Payton said. "I think there's some things we can do to help him. That being said, when you have an injury to McKenzie like we had, and it's an area where you're thin.
"Randall Gay did enough things well (with New England). We felt like he's intelligent, he can play inside in the nickel, and he brings some versatility to the table.
"I think it would be unfair to say, 'Hey, we're bringing in Randall Gay because this specific player didn't play as well as we'd hoped.' None of us had the season we wanted."
The Saints signed free agent defensive end Bobby McCray when they already had Will Smith and Charles Grant, two former first-round picks.
Word is that they'd love to draft USC defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis in the first round, but he could be taken by Cincinnati.
New defensive line coach Ed Orgeron coached Ellis at USC.
"It (McCray) gives us flexibility if you're trying to put together your best sub-rush package, which would include sliding Grant inside," coach Sean Payton said. "What I'm just trying to do is really upgrade that unit by adding depth to
John McClain covers the Texans and the NFL for the Chronicle. He can be heard on 610 AM at 7:30 a.m. Monday, 10 a.m. Tuesday and 4:30 p.m. Friday.