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INDIANAPOLIS -- Kawann Short gets it. He says he does, at least. Size matters. Or rather, the lack of it does.
Short arrived at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday weighing 299 pounds. The last time he was that weight, he said, was in middle school.
Short was a dominant defensive tackle at Purdue weighing in the 320-pound-plus range. He earned All-Big Ten honors and a reputation for taking plays off. The high motor NFL teams seek was missing.
The Combine message was clear: that has to change.
In fact, Short said, it already has.
“I feel more versatile now. My conditioning is way better. I can play more. I can run more. I can hustle. The key was finding a weight I was comfortable at and keep going at that. I feel better. I've gained confidence. I'm moving better.”
Part of the reason for Short's fitness issues was playing too much, he said. He should have come out of games, he said, but stayed in because the Boilers needed him.
“I'm a competitive guy. I like to win every time I'm on the field. It was my fault I let my motor die just trying to play (more snaps). I was trying to help the team win and do my job.
“I should have tapped out a couple of times, but that's not in my character. I want to win. I was still trying to help team win. It was too many snaps for the weight I was at. It's not good to play 70 to 80 snaps weighing 320.”
Because of a hamstring injury suffered in recent training, Short did not participate in any of the Combine's drills and physical tests, although he did talk with teams. He said the hamstring was “just tweaked” and that he'll be ready for his own March 25 Pro Day.
“At my pro day I'll try to beat some of these good times that will be run here,” he said.
Short made a big impression at last month's Senior Bowl, when he was named the North team's most outstanding player. He said he came to the Combine to build on that momentum. He's projected as a late first-round or early second round pick. He said he grew a lot in the years under former Purdue coach Danny Hope.
“At Purdue I was more disciplined. I was a guy you can trust. I was a guy you could call on at any time. Coach Hope helped me a lot to play at the next level.”
There is speculation Short might have to play defensive end at the NFL level as part of a 3-4 scheme. He said he's fine with that.
“I like defensive end, but I'd rather play in the middle.”