INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Dee Milliner wanted to wait until after the BCS Championship game to fix his shoulder.
Now he’s waiting till after this week’s NFL scouting combine.
The Alabama alum who is expected to be the first cornerback taken in April’s draft said Sunday that he will have surgery March 12 to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He’s expected to need about two months to fully recover and with the injury being no secret, he doesn’t expect it to hurt his draft stock.
“I know I’ll be back to normal, making plays and that’s why I wanted to come to the combine, just to do this and just to show that I can move around and do stuff with my arm hurt now,” Milliner said.
The defensive backs won’t work out in Indianapolis until Tuesday after most coaches and general managers have already left town. And unlike some of the other top prospects, Milliner said he plans to do all the drills other than the bench press this week.
His reasoning is simple: Even at less than full strength, he still feels he’s the best cornerback available.
The injury occurred Nov. 10 when Alabama lost its only game of the season to Texas A&M. Milliner said he was injured as he dove to make a play on the ball. He could have opted for surgery then, but decided to play through the pain instead and wound up helping lead the Crimson Tide to its third national title in four years.
“I was hurting when I was playing, but you’ve got to fight through it and keep playing,” Milliner said. “So I just continued to go out there and play.”
OTHER INJURIES: Though Milliner decided to work out this week, injuries are keeping a handful of others off the field.
The biggest name to be out might be Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley, who is waiting till his March Pro Day to start throwing after injuring his shoulder in October. Another is Duke quarterback Sean Renfree, who tore his right pectoral muscle during the Blue Devils’ bowl game.
Renfree spent the next month in a sling, then worked on getting his range of motion back and now is trying to strengthen the shoulder. A return date is still unclear for Renfree, who NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock called “really good.”
“When I go back, I will start to run, be able to do some weights,” he said. “In the next month, I will just try to get some strength back and then by able get to 100 percent and be able to throw.”
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy also did not participate in Sunday’s workouts. He has a hamstring injury.
TOP PERFORMERS: Texas receiver Marques Goodwin looked more like a sprinter than an Olympic long jumper Sunday.
The 10th-place finisher in the long jump at last summer’s London Olympics posted the fastest 40-yard dash time of the day. He was clocked in 4.27 seconds, taking the early lead in the race to get a contract offer from Adidas. West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin and Texas A&M receiver Ryan Swope tied for second in 4.34.
That time also matched the fastest time posted by a running back, Auburn’s Onterio McCalebb. Arkansas running back Knile Davis was the next fastest at 4.37.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith helped his case by posting a 4.50, the fastest at his position. Florida State’s E.J. Manuel was second at 4.65. They were also one-two in the vertical jump with Manuel barely beating out Smith 34 to 33½.
Texas A&M’s Christine Michael had the best vertical jump of the day, 43 inches, the best ever by a running back, according to combine officials. The top three receivers — Virginia Tech’s Marcus Davis, Tennessee’s Justin Hunter and Tennessee Tech’s Da’Rick Rogers — couldn’t top that. They all came in at 39½.
Missouri’s T.J. Moe posted the most reps among receivers in the bench press (26).
TOUCHING DOWN: Notre Dame Cierre Wood had another year of eligibility left at Notre Dame and isn’t expected to go in the first round in April.
So why did the top rusher for the Fighting Irish decide to give up his final season of eligibility?
“I just thought it was that time for me to go. Things weren’t really going my way,” he said. “I’m not saying that things are going to go your way, but I felt like I was doing everything possible to get the ball, but it wasn’t happening. So, with that being said, I felt like it was time for me to move on to the next level.
GETTING IT ON FILM: USA Football, the NFL’s youth football development partner, spent the weekend filming interviews with some of the league’s coaches as part of its Heads Up tackling program.
The program is designed to help youth-league coaches and commissions learn more about tackling fundamentals so they can teach them to younger players. The hope is that it will reduce the number of serious injuries in youth leagues, including concussions.