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Joeckel, jokes highlight first day of Combine

The NFL Combine officially began Wednesday with the arrival of the first position groups, but Thursday marked the true opening as a crush of 800 media members joined the fray at Lucas Oil Stadium for the first full day of activities.

Over the next several days more than 330 of the best draft-eligible players in the country will be tested physically and mentally in what will be their first of many job interviews leading up to the NFL Draft April 25-27.

Thursday highlights

Texas A&M offensive lineman Luke Joeckel drew a huge crowd for his 10-minute press conference, and he didn’t downplay his excitement about the possibility of being the No. 1 overall pick.

“It would be really cool, a dream come true,” he said. “I am definitely striving to be the No. 1 pick, going through this entire process and playing this season and all that kind of stuff. But my dream is to just play in the NFL. Being the No. 1 pick, after that it doesn’t really matter. You’ve got to go prove yourself in the NFL.”

The Kansas City Chiefs have the No. 1 overall pick.

“That would be a good place to go,” Joeckel said. “I’ve been to Kansas City once before and loved the barbecue there.”

Head coaches and general managers took turns at the podium, too, and new Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly also attracted quite a bit of attention.

Kelly was asked about earlier reports that he accepted the job with the Cleveland Browns, and he said they were “erroneous,” before adding, “That’s a quote from Wedding Crashers.”

He used the same line last year when he was reported to be taking the job in Tampa Bay before returning to the University of Oregon.

Last month Kelly signed with the Eagles following the reports about him taking the Browns job.

He declined to comment Thursday on why he thought Philadelphia was a better fit than Cleveland.

Local lens

Ohio State usually is one of the most represented schools at the Combine, and this year is no different with seven Buckeyes here. Only Florida State (13), LSU (13), Georgia (11) and Alabama (10) have more.

Two of the seven OSU players, offensive tackle Reid Fangel and wide receiver Jake Stoneburner, are converted tight ends, although Stoneburner is expected to return to that position in the NFL.

“I’m honored to be here,” Fangel said “It’s something a year ago that Coach (Urban) Meyer told me I had the potential, to be here sitting with you here at the combine. So it was big sticking to the plan, as grueling as it was, as tough as it was. Coach Meyer got the best out of me, and I’m forever thankful for him and the staff for the job they did.”

Stoneburner said he has heard a lot about the Combine from former OSU teammates who are playing in the NFL, including Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams.

When asked what advice Adams gave him, Stoneburer said, “Just run fast.”

Quote of the Day

“Who’s that?”

— University of Tennessee offensive lineman Dallas Thomas when asked about the mood in Knoxville following the hiring of former University of Cincinnati coach Butch Jones.

Quote of the Day II

“Hawaii long slapper Luke Ingram to Table 1.”

— The female public address announcer handling the interview assignments in the media lounge.

Today’s schedule

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis will hold his press conference at 11:30 a.m.

There will be on-field workouts for kickers and specialists, who also will join offensive linemen and tight ends for team interviews, psychological testing and bench presses.

Quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs will have their measurements taken, meet with the media, conduct team interviews and go through medical exams.

Defensive linemen and linebackers will arrive for medical pre-exams, X-rays, orientation and the start of team interviews.

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