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Unlucky break for Crummey

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Andrew Crummey, the Maryland guard who broke his left fibula twice last season, will find out just how meaningful the NFL's scouting combine is this spring.

If it's true, as veteran personnel men suggest, that as much as 80 percent of a player's grade is derived from game videotape, then Crummey should hear his name called sometime in the middle rounds of the April 26-27 draft.

If that's not the case, the preseason All-America lineman may not be selected until the fifth or sixth round.

Crummey, a three-year starter at Maryland, wasn't able to participate in the combine workouts in Indianapolis over the weekend because he arrived on crutches, wearing a walking boot on his left lower leg.

He broke the bone against Georgia Tech in early October, missed seven weeks and returned for the final two regular-season games and the Emerald Bowl. But when he refractured the bone in the East-West Shrine Game in Houston in January, his draft plans were drastically altered.

Just like that, he became the latest test case for injured players who can't use the combine drills to validate game performances. By Crummey's estimation, the bad break might end up costing him "a couple rounds" in the draft.

"If teams look at this injury and look at me in a fair light and they see the value of the player, I don't think they would knock me down in their draft order just because I had this injury," he said.

"But obviously, it hurts my draft status."

Had it not been for the second break, NFL draft expert Gil Brandt said Crummey likely would have been taken in the third or fourth round.

Now?

"Somebody will take a chance on him," Brandt said. "He was a three-year starter, and that's a prerequisite for an offensive lineman. It's a fact that guys who start 40 or more games [in college] will start in the NFL."

As Brandt spoke, he thumbed through his loose-leaf binder to find Crummey's evaluation. "He gets good grades," Brandt said.

Crummey, who made 36 starts at Maryland, also should get high marks for coming back from the injury. There were discussions after the October injury that he might be wise to sit out the rest of the season, heal up and prepare for the combine.

He chose instead to rush his return for the Terps' bowl push. It's a decision he doesn't look back on.

"Yes, it's easy in hindsight to say all that," said Crummey, who is 6 feet 4 and 299 pounds. "At the time, I thought I could play, and I was told that I had sufficient strength in the bone. I played with the information I had.

"We had a lot of injuries on the offensive line. We were thin, and we had guys who didn't have much experience playing. As a senior, it's kind of my responsibility to try to play. ... I got three more games in college. I got the all-star game. I think I played well in the all-star game."

One month after surgery to insert a plate and screws, Crummey is not allowed to have contact until early June. He will be able to participate in minicamps, however. And while he continues to do upper-body workouts, it's questionable whether he'll be able to run before the draft.

"I had no problem pushing it when a game was on the line, if I could play," he said. "I don't see the value in pushing it for a diagnostic test. Playing in the game was very important to me, so I was willing to risk something. But for a number ... if coaches can't see me play the game [on tape] and value me on that, then the number's not going to change, anyway.

"If I tore something in my knee, soft tissue, that was going to be lingering for a year, that would be something else. With the bone, it heals, it heals quicker and it heals firm. I'll be fine."

Crummey, 23, from Van Wert, Ohio, has been able to find perspective through his disappointment. He will still play in the NFL. He just won't get his just due for a standout college career.

"I lost my validation," he said. "The draft is nice. [But] making a team hasn't changed. They say it's not where you start that matters, but where you end."

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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