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Leftwich gives a glimpse of skills
Byron Leftwich acknowledged feeling the heat Monday in Florida, but not from the pressure created by representatives of all 32 NFL teams, including Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, watching his every move.
"The first thing Byron said to me was that it was 90 degrees out there, and after he was done it felt like they were trying to kill him," a source close to Leftwich said the Marshall quarterback told him after Monday's workout at Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla.
"He said he felt like he was running ragged afterward," the source added. "He threw 80 passes, ran a couple 40s, and did some other stuff that wore him out in that heat."
More than the temperature might have soared Monday in Florida.
The 6-foot-5-inch Leftwich, looking a trim 236 after losing 13 pounds since February, possibly improved his draft stock by clocking a 4.89 40-yard dash on a left leg that had raised questions since he broke it for the second time in two years last November.
A steel rod inserted into Leftwich's tibia after the first fracture his junior season at Marshall reinforces the leg and had concerned some NFL coaches and general managers. But last week orthopedic surgeon James Andrews cleared Leftwich for the type of on-field drills he conducted Monday without a limp.
Angelo joined four NFL head coaches, including Marvin Lewis of Cincinnati and Brian Billick of Baltimore, among dozens of other NFL decision-makers, for their first glimpse of Leftwich in action. He did not work out at the NFL combine in February while his leg healed and has spent the winter rehabilitating.
The Bengals hold the first pick in the draft April 26-27 and have been leaning toward taking quarterback Carson Palmer of Southern Cal, but reports out of Cincinnati persist that Leftwich's combination of charisma and athletic ability intrigues Lewis.
In fact, Leftwich headed to Cincinnati after his workout for a tour of the Bengals' facility Tuesday. The Bears, picking fourth, interviewed Leftwich on Sunday night but are not expected to use the selection on a quarterback unless Angelo becomes convinced either Leftwich or Palmer is too special a player to pass up.
Leftwich, rated higher than Palmer by the two scouting services used by most NFL teams, gave Angelo and everybody else plenty to consider Monday.
Several sources indicated Leftwich's leg showed no signs of instability during the short-shuttle run or a three-cone drill that measures agility and quickness. During throwing drills that included rollouts, Leftwich took all of the snaps under center, an important detail given that he spent his entire Marshall career throwing out of the shotgun formation.
Unfazed, Leftwich moved fluidly out of the pocket and flashed the kind of strength in his right arm that his NFL audience had come to see. He threw to three Bengals receivers made available for the workout, including Peter Warrick.
Angelo, who was traveling and unavailable to comment, is still expected to opt for defense on draft day.