Marcus Lattimore might not set foot on the playing surface at Lucas Oil Stadium this week. He certainly wont do anything approaching a workout.
But the NFL Combine, which began Wednesday in Indianapolis at the home field of the Indianapolis Colts, will be critical for Lattimores professional football hopes, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock says.
The NFL is kind of collectively holding their breath to see where he is, Mayock said of South Carolinas former star running back. From what I have heard from people that are training where he is training, he is apparently way ahead of schedule.
Lattimore said the same thing Monday night on the Inside the Roost radio program, predicting he will shock the various team doctors who will evaluate him this week in Indianapolis. There will be plenty of them.
Every player who goes through the Combine is given rigorous and repeated medical screenings. For a player who was once considered a first round draft pick and has had two knee reconstructions in the past 16 months, the questions could be endless.
People forget how important the medical piece of this is, especially for a guy like Lattimore, Mayock said. Hes going to get tested heavily and, if hes ahead of schedule, thats going to add to his value. If he can play next year, even if its the second half of the year, thats going to add to his value.
Noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who helped perform the procedure after Lattimores most recent injury, will attend the Combine along with Lattimore to help answer medical questions, Lattimore said on Inside the Roost. Lattimore, who rushed for 2,677 yards in 29 career games and set the schools all-time touchdowns record at 41, tore the ACL in his left knee in October of 2011 and then tore three knee ligaments, including the ACL, in his right knee in October of 2012.
Andrews told USA Today that Lattimore has added 20 pounds during his rehabilitation.
Hes twice as far along as we ever expected him to be. Hes so self-motivated, Andrews told the newspaper. This weight hes put on has been all muscle, which is absolutely impossible in most cases. It remains to be seen if he can play this season. Weve had to slow him down in certain activities because hed get ahead of us. Hes one of the finest young men Ive ever had the opportunity to help take care of.
Mayock doesnt expect any definitive answers this week despite all the poking and prodding Lattimore will undergo.
Hes not going to be healthy this weekend. Hes not going to be healthy at the draft (in April), Mayock said. Theres still going to be a lingering medical question. I think hes going to (be selected) somewhere in the third round. If he was a late-first (round) to a mid-second when healthy, I think the third round is fair for him because youre probably going to get your most production starting two years out.
Lattimore is one of seven former Gamecocks who will attend this years Combine. He will be joined by center T.J. Johnson, tight end Justice Cunningham, safety D.J. Swearinger, safety DeVonte Holloman, wide receiver Ace Sanders and defensive end Devin Taylor. Lattimore will fly to Indianapolis today along with the rest of the running backs to begin what will be four days of medical evaluations, interviews and, for some players, workouts.
How quickly can we get (Lattimore) at 100 percent back on the field? I think thats a lot of what were going to see in Indy, Mayock said. Unfortunately for the fans and for me, we dont get the medical side, but well start to hear that as time passes, where he really is. I think the Combines going to help him because of the medical side of it.