- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 25, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS — Former Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick proclaimed his innocence yesterday on charges that he brandished a firearm last month in Suffolk, Va.

Appearing at the NFL Scouting Combine, Vick spoke for the first time about his dismissal from the Tech football team Jan. 6 and his arrest four days later.

“I don’t carry guns and I don’t affiliate with people that have guns,” he said at the Indiana Convention Center. “I had a cell phone in my hand. I don’t know what the guys were thinking. I didn’t even think it was going to be a situation until the detectives came to my house at 3 in the morning.”

Since July 2002, Vick has had eight incidents with police and his off-the-field activities will be a focal point of a team’s evaluation.

Vick met with several quarterback coaches yesterday and will run and throw (but not lift) this weekend.

“I think I left a positive impression on them,” he said, “just by telling them how it is, just telling the truth. I’m not going to go in there and bite my tongue and beat around situations and lie about situations. They’re going to find out the truth. So I tell them the truth and be positive about it.”

Positive isn’t exactly a word to describe Vick’s college career. He redshirted in 2002, played quarterback and receiver in 2003, was suspended in 2004 after several off the field incidents and started 13 games last fall.

Leading Virginia Tech to an 11-2 record, Vick threw for 2,393 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for six touchdowns.

Comparing himself to older brother Michael, Marcus Vick said: “I feel like I’m a more mature passer. Mike is a way better player, a way better person. He’s just always made the correct decisions.”

Marcus Vick also was involved in trouble. on the field. He made an obscene gesture to the fans at West Virginia and bumped a Mountaineers assistant coach. In the Hokies’ Gator Bowl win over Louisville, he stomped on the calf of Cardinals lineman Elvis Dumervil.

Tech officials were prepared to suspend Vick for the start of the 2006 season until his arrest on Dec. 17, 2005 for speeding and driving on a suspended license was revealed.

Depending on the results of his workouts, Vick is projected as a Day 2 draft pick.

“As people do their homework, most of that is going to probably be on his off-the-field [issues] rather than what he appears to be on the field,” Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage said.

Said Vick: “I’m trying to show them the kind of person that I am and show the world that I’m not the person some people make me out to be. At this time in my life, I just want a team to give me a shot. It doesn’t matter the round or the money.”

Leinart, Young will wait

The top two quarterbacks in the draft — Southern Cal’s Matt Leinart and Texas’ Vince Young — will not work out at the combine, each opting for private workouts — Young on March 22 and Leinart on April 2.

Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, whose team has the No. 3 selection, is disappointed the top prospects are not working out this week.

“I understand it but I have a difficult time accepting why they don’t,” he said. “When you have your Pro Day and it rains or there’s wind, it’s still your Pro Day and you have to work out. What better situation than to do it here. It’s important that they work here.”

Bloom shifts to football

Following a sixth-place finish in moguls skiing at the Winter Olympics, Jeremy Bloom is at the combine, hoping to impress teams as a receiver/kick returner.

“I never thought in a billion years that in a span of a week, I’d be at the Olympics and then the combine,” Bloom said. “The sport of football has been a huge passion of mine, but the NCAA unfortunately took that away from me.”

Bloom, 5-foot-9 and 173 pounds, hopes to bulk up leading into the draft. He played for Colorado from 2003 to 2004.

Around the combine

• Memphis running back DeAngelo Williams admits he’s having a hard time gauging which teams are interested in him. “Everybody has a poker face they can all play in the World Series of Poker,” he said. “They all smile the same, they all say the same things. Nobody tips their hand.”

—• Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs is scheduled to meet with the media this afternoon.

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