The NFL Combine is officially underway, and there will be a few players that will get extra attention during media availability. One such player is South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney. While Clowney is an athletic freak of nature, one of the media narratives developed this year concerned his work ethic.
Whether you buy into it or not, Clowney's assessment will involve that kind of stuff. And his college coach likely only added to it. Steve Spurrier spoke with NFL AM this morning, and was asked about the work ethic questions. Spurrier said Clowney's work ethic was "OK", and then said "it wasn't like Marcus Lattimore's." I don't think Spurrier was necessarily saying Clowney had a bad work ethic, but this did strike me as somewhat of a criticism of him. Spurrier also still thinks he's an absolute beast of a player, and was quick to move past the work ethic stuff.
The 49ers won't be getting anywhere near Clowney come draft time, but it's always good to hear those kind of positive comments about Lattimore. All indications are that Lattimore is a hard worker, so this isn't a surprise, but it's something to hear Lattimore as the first name out of Spurrier's mouth. It's worth noting that Spurrier has his guys he likes and guys in his doghouse, but it's gotta say something to be that first name.
Lattimore is continuing his rehab to get back to 100 percent as the offseason workout program approaches. The earliest the 49ers can start their program is April 21. At that point, we'll start to get some concrete information about Lattimore's status. We'll see if he is starting to get into some of the basic condition and strength work, or if he will continue in his rehab process. The offseason workout program starts with strictly strength, conditioning and rehab work. Phase 2 moves into individual player instruction and drills, and some single unit stuff. Phase 3 is when we get into OTAs and even more instruction and drills.
Those latter two phases are where we'll start to really see where Marcus Lattimore is at. In reality the key is getting him going in time for training camp, but if he is able to get in some of the regular work during the workout program, he'll be that much further along. And given his universally praised work ethic, I feel at least somewhat optimistic.