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As Manning sort of watches, QBs step up

QB Andrew Luck, speaking at the draft combine, is projected to go No. 1 overall to the Colts. Robert Griffin III could go high, also.

Associated Press

QB Andrew Luck, speaking at the draft combine, is projected to go No. 1 overall to the Colts. Robert Griffin III could go high, also.

INDIANAPOLIS — A poster hanging outside Lucas Oil Stadium bears the image of Peyton Manning. Inside the house Manning built, the discussion is all about his successor.

Quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III started making their pitches Friday to be this year's No. 1 draft pick and supplant Manning as the face of the Colts, though neither is ready to push him aside.

"Peyton was my hero growing up, he was my football hero, he's who I modeled myself after in high school and middle school. You never truly replace a guy like that," Luck said at the NFL's scouting combine. "If I had the opportunity to learn from a guy like that, of course you're going to take advantage of that, absolutely."

After going a league-worst 2-14, the Colts won the top draft pick, and owner Jim Irsay has said he intends to use the No. 1 overall pick on Indy's next big franchise quarterback, given the state of Manning's health after neck surgery in the past year. He didn't play this season.

Coaches and general managers believe Stanford's Luck is the more polished prospect. Griffin, last season's Heisman Trophy winner out of Baylor, is believed to have more upside. Most believe that barring unknown medical issues, Luck will go No. 1 to Indianapolis and Griffin could go No. 2 if the Rams trade the pick.

"Some people think I came on the scene this year," Griffin said, "so they haven't had as much time to evaluate me. I'm just excited to really show them who I am as a person (at the combine) — happy-go-lucky, like to make people laugh. But I know when to be serious as well."

Draft: The Dolphins won a coin flip for the right to the eighth overall selection, bettering the Panthers, who now own the ninth pick. Also, the Chiefs won a coin toss with the Seahawks and will pick 11th. Seattle will pick 12th in the draft, April 26-28 in New York. The Panthers and Dolphins had identical 6-10 records and strengths of schedule. The Seahawks and Chiefs finished 7-9 and shared identical strengths of schedule. The coin flips finalized the order of the first round.

Bills: The agent for Stevie Johnson, who has led the team in receiving each of the past two seasons and can become a free agent next month, said talks with the club about re-signing were productive and he was "very optimistic." C.J. LaBoy wouldn't give details.

broncos: Vice president John Elway said he hopes Tim Tebow is the team's long-term solution at quarterback. It was a step beyond his statement at season's end that the former Gator would be the starter going into training camp. "I was really happy with his progress," Elway said at the combine. "I know Tim's going to work hard this offseason. We're hoping that he's going to be the guy for a long, long time." Elway said he likes Tebow's physical tools but he needs to work on his throwing fundamentals. Tebow is working with new UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone in Los Angeles on his throwing.

49ers: Special teams standout C.J. Spillman has agreed to a three-year contract, the Associated Press reported. No details were given.

Patriots: Tight end Rob Gronkowski defended his work ethic and post-Super Bowl dancing, the first time he spoke publicly on the subject since a video of him relaxing after New England's loss to the Giants went viral this month. Video of a shirtless Gronkowski on a dance floor, despite an ankle injury, drew criticism from many, including former Patriot Rodney Harrison. "Hard work and dedication, I always put my job first before anything, no matter what it is. I'm always just dedicating myself. Unfortunately, it just happened like that. I mean, it is what it is," Gronkowski said on a Philadelphia radio station.

Ravens: GM Ozzie Newsome confirmed that Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed will play in 2012. Reed, a former University of Miami standout who turns 34 on Sept. 11, has been considering retirement every year since 2008 because of a nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder.

. Fast facts

NFL draft order

The order, finalized Friday, of the draft's first round on April 26:

1, Colts; 2, Rams; 3, Vikings; 4. Browns; 5, Bucs; 6, Redskins; 7, Jaguars; 8, Dolphins; 9, Panthers; 10, Bills; 11, Chiefs; 12, Seahawks; 13, Cardinals; 14, Cowboys; 15, Eagles; 16, Jets; 17, Raiders; 18, Chargers;

19, Bears; 20, Titans; 21, Bengals; 22, Falcons; 23, Lions; 24, Steelers; 25, Broncos; 26, Texans; 27, Saints;

28, Packers; 29, Ravens; 30, 49ers; 31, Patriots; 32, Giants

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As Manning sort of watches, QBs step up 02/24/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 24, 2012 10:40pm]

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