Sunday, May 2, 2004

Gamble's test doesn't trouble Panthers

NFL insider

Mark Curnutte
The big draft news for NFC champion Carolina was the low intelligence test score achieved by first-round pick Chris Gamble.

Gamble, a cornerback out of Ohio State, scored a 9 - that's 9 out of 50 - on the predraft Wonderlic test. It's a mental ability exam given to prospects at the scouting combine at Indianapolis.

Asked about his score, Gamble wasn't evasive.

"I just didn't have enough time to finish it," he said. "I wanted to finish it all. I'm smart; I know I'm smart. I just want to go out there and play smart and let everyone know that I am. At the combine I did it, and it was like, 12 minutes. I thought we had to answer everything, and we didn't have to. I think it means (a lot), but on the field, you've got to just play football."

Asked how much emphasis the Panthers put on the test, Carolina general manager Marty Hurney said: "There's a lot of different reasons why guys can have certain test scores. We investigated thoroughly and came to the conclusion that (Gamble) doesn't have a problem learning on the field."

STICKY SITUATION: Although everybody was smiling on draft day, contract negotiations between quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers could be a problem.

Rivers probably will seek to be compensated as the first pick in the draft after being acquired in a trade for the player (Eli Manning) who was taken No. 1 overall.

Conversely, the Chargers figure to argue that Rivers should be paid as the fourth pick because that's where the Giants selected him.

Rivers' agent, Jimmy Sexton, would not discuss the matter, other than to say: "Philip Rivers is in an enviable position."

REUNION: Miami Hurricanes running back Jarrett Payton is one of the 27 undrafted rookies signed by the Tennessee Titans.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher was a teammate of Jarrett's father, the late Walter Payton.

"I still remember Jarrett as Walter's little boy," Fisher said.

Players arrived Friday in Nashville for the rookie-only minicamp, and it was the first time Fisher had seen Jarrett Payton in person since 1985.

"It's always neat seeing anyone's son grow up to have a successful career at the major-college level, let alone get an opportunity in the National Football League," Fisher said. "When they are the son of a player, this time the son of a great player, everybody is pulling for him to do well."

TRADING PLACES: There were a record 28 draft-day trades.

THAT'S BETTER: The mood at the Vikings' draft-day party this year couldn't have been more different from what it was a year ago.

In 2003, after failing to make the team's first-round pick on time for the second consecutive draft, Vikings coach Mike Tice was booed heartily. Fans threw things. An elderly woman in the front row flipped off Tice.

Last weekend, Tice arrived at the podium to the cheers of 3,800 fans. The Vikings had filled their biggest need by selecting Southern California defensive end Kenechi Udeze, who had 16.5 sacks last season.

NO PLAYBOY: Bears top pick Tommie Harris once turned down Playboy magazine's all-America team because the son of a Pentecostal minister objected on principle. Now he has been drafted to play in the city that once housed the original Playboy Mansion on Hugh Hefner Way.

"Hopefully, one day I can have a street named after me, too," Harris said.

AFC NORTH: The Baltimore Ravens came out of the draft with a veteran receiver in Kevin Johnson and a couple of prospects, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Of course, they'd rather have Terrell Owens, who's now an Eagle. All Johnson cost was a fourth-round pick on the second day. He was available because the Jaguars took wide receiver Reggie Williams at No. 9, and that made Johnson their third receiver. Johnson looks good compared to what the Ravens, who get Johnson at $1.4 million for each of the next two seasons, had. His 58 catches last season are four more than the total of the Ravens' current receiving corps.

The Cleveland Browns could be facing a holdout by top draft pick Kellen Winslow Jr. His agents are the notorious Poston brothers - Orlando Pace, Ty Law, LaVar Arrington, Charles Woodson and Julian Peterson are other clients. The Browns might have inflated Winslow's ego by giving Detroit a second-round draft choice just to move up one spot and take him at No. 6. "Kellen could easily be the LeBron James of the Browns," Kevin Poston said.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping to bring quarterback Ben Roethlisberger along in the same way the Bengals handled Carson Palmer. The Steelers hope to get one more season from Tommy Maddox, while grooming Roethlisberger, before making him the starter in 2005.

Written from notes submitted by NFL beat writers.

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