INDIANAPOLIS - Michael Crabtree was quick on his feet Sunday, and if he does the same thing for NFL scouts next month the stress fracture in his left footmight soon be forgotten.
In an odd scene at the league's annual scouting combine, Crabtree strolled quickly across the media room moments after Patriots coach BillBelichick finished speaking. He walked up a couple of steps, smiled at reporters and then gave a 20-second statement confirming the decision todelay surgery so he could run in front of scouts during next month's personal workout.
"It's an old injury that I've been having, but I never had any pain in it," he said. "I will run my 40, and after that I will have surgery." With that,Crabtree exited stage left, taking no questions.
Clearly, it was an effort to stem the fallout that began Saturday when it was revealed he needed surgery.
Crabtree came to the combine not planning to work out but still hoping to prove he was the top receiver in the draft and worthy of a top five pick.
Instead, he measured in almost two inches shorter than his listed height of 6-foot-3 at Texas Tech and then the medical examinations revealed thestress fracture. Many general managers consider medical tests the most important part of this week's combine.
Coaches were informed during Saturday's workouts that Crabtree had been diagnosed with the injury, and Crabtree was then told his best optionwould be to have a screw inserted into the foot and the recovery could take 10 weeks or longer.
If he had surgery now, Crabtree would probably never work out in front of NFL scouts before April's draft.
The lack of information could have affected his projection as the best receiver in the draft, and a possible selection in the top five.
That's why Crabtree decided to wait.
League and combine officials would not confirm the diagnosis Saturday, but Jeff Foster, president of National Football Scouting Inc., explainedSunday that they don't give out medical information.
There was another scare during Sunday's workouts with the receivers when Missouri's Jeremy Maclin took a tumble. He sat out a portion of thedrills before returning near the end of his workout.
Foster provided no information on that injury, either.
And Foster did not address the strange saga of Andre Smith, the offensive tackle from Alabama, who couldn't be found for Saturday morning'sworkouts. Apparently, Smith moved up his flight and left town early without telling combine officials.
His absence was announced on the public address system inside the stadium, where reporters are not permitted with the exception of those fromNFL Network.
It's not unusual for players to leave Indianapolis early, though they normally provide that information before departing.
Smith is considered by many to be the top tackle and possibly the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.