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March 17, 2012It wasn't what he did as much as what he didn't do; or didn't wear to be more specific.
Omar Bolden sported his Combine-issued neon green top and gray tights but noticeably missing from his Arizona State Pro Day appearance was any sort of knee brace to remind the dozens of scouts in attendance that he's returning from a torn ACL.
Even a trained eye wouldn't have known just by appearances that Bolden didn't play last season after suffering the injury nearly a year ago. It wasn't visible in his 40 time (reportedly measured in the mid 4.4 second range), shuttle or in position drills.
Weighing a lean 203 pounds, Bolden looked every bit as good as any of the other 25 participants, which included fellow ASU Draft candidates Vontaze Burfict, Gerell Robinson, Garth Gerhart and Jamaar Jarrett.
"It felt good," Bolden said afterward, calling the day's end a relief. "I love competing, I love playing football obviously. It was just good to get back out here and compete and play with my guys for one last time."
Declaring himself 100 percent healthy, Bolden said the next part of his journey all football-related.
"Just steady improvement; I've still got a long way to go," he said. "I haven't played football since 2010 so I'm just anxious to get back on the field and play again."
The odds-on favorite to be ASU's first player drafted next month, Bolden said he will visit the New York Jets next month, and has several other trips lined up subsequently, including Philadelphia.
Bolden's performance wasn't the only impressive effort on the day, as offensive lineman Dan Knapp put up 41 reps at 225 pounds on the benchpress and ran a sub-5.0 second 40 yard dash at 304 pounds, and wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad put up 22 reps on the bench and ran a 40 in the high 4.5s.
"Without going to the combine I knew I had one shot so I just worked really hard and I just feel blessed to come out here and compete and I think I took advantage of it," said the 5-foot-10, 181 pound Pflugrad, who had more scouts than anyone asking him to fill out information sheets following the workout.
"For the past two months it's been two workouts a day, six days a week, 7,000 calories a day, just working," Knapp said. "I've enjoyed the process, but it's been a process. Every morning I wake up and have a shake that consists of two cans a tuna, a banana and two cups of oatmeal. That's how I start my day and that's how I finish it."
Several scouts in attendance said linebacker Vontaze Burfict was unimpressive Friday, after a widely panned showing at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month.
Burfict reportedly ran in the 4.9 second range - not much faster than Knapp - and slipped several times in some of the testing drills after a mediocre 16 bench reps. He looked just decent in position work, scouts said.
If there was a glimmer of hope for Burfict, it came in the form of what appeared to be some true introspection when visiting with reporters following the session.
"I blame that on myself but it's just immaturity," Burfict said of his questionable work ethic in college. "I'm growing up and realizing what the world is about and just got to work harder in everything that I do.
"People on the outside think I probably watched a lot of film but to me I think I need to watch more and stuff like that, especially working out, watching film, eating right, a lot of things that that's under the book that I'm just getting better on just now."
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