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Practice report: Day 3 of Senior Bowl


The third day of practice for Senior Bowlers wrapped up Wednesday at Ladd-Peeples stadium in Mobile.

EDITOR'S NOTE:The following article is part of's 2010 NFL Draft coverage presented by FOX Sports Houston.

Mobile, Ala. – The third day of the Under Armour Senior Bowl week is in the books as the North squad practiced in the morning while the South went through afternoon drills. The NFL hopefuls performed drills and brief scrimmages in preparation for Saturday evening's game at Ladd-Peeples stadium.

Inside-out: Idaho offensive guard Mike Iaputi played some on the outside at left tackle today and acquitted himself fairly well. He's a mountain of a man (6-5, 325), but very soft-spoken. However, he lit up when talking about being able to play at both guard and tackle.

"It's all going good," Iupati said. "I love the competition. The physicalness of my game would make me a great offensive tackle or offensive guard."

When asked what he'd want to play if he had to choose, he laughed and said, "Right tackle, because I can just kick back and attack the inside rusher."

McCluster is versatile: Ole Miss running back Dexter McCluster was an explosive playmaker in 2009, peeling off 1,169 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, and he also caught 44 passes for 520 yards and three more touchdowns. He's lined up at tailback, receiver, and even took snaps this afternoon in the Wildcat formation, which he ran with great success as a Rebel.

He's the smallest player at the Senior Bowl, measuring in at 5-8, 165, but he's lightning quick and said he's capable of running the 40-yard dash at the combine in less than 4.4 seconds.

Several times on Wednesday afternoon he was able to burst through holes and gash the defense for big gains. Despite his diminutive stature, McCluster avoided injury the last three seasons after hurting his shoulder as a freshman in 2006.

Roll call: A number of NFL head coaches were visible today at the Senior Bowl practices, including Rex Ryan of the Jets, Saint Louis head coach Steve Spagnuolo, 49ers boss Mike Singletary, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Pete Carroll of Seattle. Additionally, Jim Schwartz of the Lions is coaching the North squad, while Miami's Tony Sparano is guiding the South.

Running downhill: Fresno State running back Lonyae Miller was impressive in the team portion of drills and was a real load to bring down. He ran like a battering ram, but in an athletic (5-11, 220) body. He was put in a few third-and-short situations and got the better of a handful of collisions with linebackers.

"I was just trying to get after it," Miller said. "If it was short yardage, I understood the down and distance and just tried to make a play. If there was a linebacker in front of me, I just lowered my shoulder and did what I had to do."

Motor man: One really impressive player was Cal defensive tackle/defensive end Tyson Alualu (6-2, 291). He repeatedly drove his man back (regardless of who he was lined up against) in both drills and the team portion, and had a relentless motor. He said he'll play anywhere on the line in the NFL, depending on who selects him and where the coaches place him.

Tough Tar Heel: North Carolina defensive tackle Cam Thomas is enormous (6-3, 331) and athletic on the inside, and he got penetration quite a bit in the 5-on-2 drills when he and a fellow d-lineman would take on five offensive linemen.

Double picked: Oklahoma State cornerback and Waco native Perrish Cox intercepted consecutive passes during team drills. Both were thrown by former teammate Zac Robinson.

When asked about the possibility of playing close to home if he were drafted by the Texans, Cox lit up and said, "That's every player's dream."

Cox also said he's capable of being a multi-faceted cornerback in the NFL.

"I can be any cornerback you want me to be," Cox said. "I try to work on everything that I'm not and I try to improve on it. I'm physical. I'm quick. I know how to play the ball."

He also said he would "love" to get the opportunity to return kicks and punts, which he did with success as a Cowboy.

Almost a superstar?: During a drill, running back Anthony Dixon from Mississippi State went out for a pass, had two different quarterbacks throw him a pass at the same time, and he was able to catch one of those balls and nearly hauled in the second.

Sparano joked, "If you'd caught both of those balls, your picture would've been on the front page of every newspaper in the country."

Man in the middle: Tennessee defensive lineman Dan Williams consistently pushed his man back during drills and team scrimmages and was quick in getting to the offensive backfield.

At 6-2, 329, the former Volunteer said he patterns his game after players like Darnell Dockett of Arizona, the Vikings' Pat Williams and the Patriots' Vince Wilfork among others.

Williams was impressive against the offensive linemen taking part in Mobile, but he still wasn't satisfied with his repeated penetration into the pocket.

"I always want more," Williams said. "I want to get in the backfield and also make plays. I get upset with myself at times when the running back runs past me and I don't make the tackle."

He also said he's a tireless worker and that he'll "find something wrong with my game, just to make myself better."

Heavy hitter: Southern Cal's Taylor Mays is a big safety (6-3, 231) and he said he patterns his game after the late Sean Taylor, because he was a hitter.

"Sean Taylor was my favorite player," Mays said. "I emulate him the most. If I could choose anybody to play like, it would be him."

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