Interviews can be tricky
INDIANAPOLIS - Barkevious Mingo is ready for questions he will face this weekend in Indianapolis. Seemingly every NFL team at the annual scouting combine will ask about his relationship with former college teammate Tyrann Mathieu and whether he hung out with the troubled cornerback. The answers could make as much difference in Mingo living up to his projection as a first-round draft pick as his time in the 40-yard dash. So the LSU star has left nothing to chance, carving out time to prepare for the 15-minute interviews. "It's one thing that all the guys that came out from LSU are going to face," Mingo said during a telephone interview. "We know what kind of guy (Mathieu) was and we're always going to be there for him."Interview training has become an essential component for draft hopefuls. Most, if not all, of the 333 players expected to arrive in Indy for the combine have been instructed in how to answer coaches and general managers properly. This year, the questions run the gamut. Running back Marcus Lattimore is trying to prove he can return from a gruesome knee injury. Mathieu, a cornerback, and Da'Rick Rogers, a receiver, both were booted off teams last fall after failing drug tests. Linebacker Alec Ogletree will have to answer for a series of problems that included a suspension for violating team rules last season, and linebacker Manti Te'o will likely contend with the girlfriend hoax all over again. And those are just the big-name guys. Lee Gordon, a former television anchor, runs a training program for Athletes Performance, whose client list includes Mingo and Lattimore. His advice: Be appealing, believable and accentuate the positive. "We tell them up front that coaching you on this is similar to tackling techniques and the things you do on the field, but you have to be yourself," Gordon said. "You can't be fake or people will see right through it. What we do is give them a chance to see the media and the (team) interviews as a business opportunity." REPLAY RULES: The NFL wants to avoid a replay of what happened in Detroit on Thanksgiving when Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag on a touchdown run, negating an automatic replay. NFL executive vice president of football operations Ray Anderson promised Wednesday that the rule would be fixed before next season. Because all scoring plays are automatically reviewed, Schwartz was given a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the review was not allowed. PATRIOTS: Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was convicted of assaulting a police officer in Lincoln, Neb., last year. A jury found Dennard guilty of the felony charge and a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest, but acquitted the former Nebraska standout of third-degree assault against another man, Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly said. Dennard faces up to five years in prison for the officer assault and up to a year for resisting arrest. His sentencing is April 11.