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Combine becomes more organized

©Associated Press

February 18, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bill Polian remembers the time Ryan Leaf missed his scheduled interview with the Colts. The explanation: Another team had corralled Leaf at the 1998 scouting combine.

The league might have a way to avoid similar conflicts.

When players arrive for this week's combine, they will be handed a list of interviews and meeting times, a change intended to prevent missteps that often go unnoticed by college prospects.

"It was becoming unwieldy, and ridiculously so," said Polian, the Colts' president. "As a result, we had to get a handle on how to do the interviews in a more reasonable, organized fashion."

There will be major changes to a process that still goes on primarily behind closed doors but can be one of the most critical components in evaluating college talent.

The five-day format has been extended to seven days in an effort to provide more thorough medical checks, which many coaches and general managers consider the most significant part of the event annually held in Indianapolis.

The league also has attempted to provide a more rigid structure for the most invisible part of the process, the interviews. For the first time, teams will be limited to 60, all scheduled.

The change is fine with Polian, who said he talks to about 40 to 50 players anyway.

"People were running around the building, jostling for players," he said. "We have better things to do than be chasing guys around the Holiday Inn."

BRONCOS: Pat McPherson was promoted to quarterbacks coach. McPherson has spent the past four years as an offensive assistant.

COWBOYS: Drug charges against defensive end Peppi Zellner were dropped after his brother claimed responsibility for having crack cocaine in their car.

LIONS: Tom Rathman was hired as running backs coach, rejoining former boss Steve Mariucci. Rathman served as running backs coach with the 49ers the past six seasons.

RAMS: Quarterback Kurt Warner, coming off an injury-plagued and erratic season, will be the No. 1 quarterback heading into next season, coach Mike Martz told a St. Louis television station.

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