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March 20, 2013For former Vol Zach Rogers, Wednesday was his day. Tennessee's annual pro-day was different in terms of importance for the Nashville native than it was for the other receivers working out.
Quarterback Tyler Bray already has a couple of private workouts set up. Receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarelle Patterson will work out privately on Thursday in Knoxville for the Carolina Panthers. Da'Rick Rogers has a workout set up with the Buffalo Bills in April.
For Rogers, Wednesday was the chance to open the eyes of the NFL teams, who were all on hand to see the aforementioned VFL members.
"Absolutely this was my big audition," Rogers said. "I was disappointed I didn't get to compete with those guys at the combine. I had an opportunity today and I just tried to make the best of it.
"It was good. I got a lot of exposure out here. I just want an opportunity."
Rogers, who had seven touchdowns last season, didn't disappoint. He measured in at 6-1, 182 pounds, unofficially ran a 4.51 40 (although several teams had him around 4.47) and appeared to only drop one ball in the 30-minute throwing session.
"There was a lot of pressure. I was kind of nervous coming in, but at the end of the day, football is what I have been doing my whole life," Rogers admitted. "It was just another day at the office.
"It felt really good playing with these guys. There is unbelievable talent at wideout. We had a good showing today. Our timing was good, which was the main key. I thought today went smooth."
Rogers said his phone has been ringing and hopes now that those calls will turn into private workouts after Wednesday's showing that had been months in preparing for. Among teams that have shown interest in Rogers are the Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks to just name a few.
"I would say speed and hands," Rogers said of his focus. "I have tried to focus on that the last three months. I thought I had a pretty good showing today. There is always room for improvement but I thought I had a pretty good showing today."
For Bray, who threw in front of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, today was not just about helping himself by showing consistency in his footwork, but also to help out a group of skill guys who helped him greatly the last three years.
"I have to throw," Bray said of his decision to workout. "I wanted to help the receivers out and I wanted to show the coaches and scouts some consistency with my footwork.
"I think I did OK. There were a few throws that I would like to have back. But we have been working hard. The receivers ran great routes and ran hard. I'm really proud of them."
The group has been back in Knoxville for about 10 days preparing for today. Most are staying in town to continue to working towards the draft and to continue to compete and push each other. That competition was on full display Wednesday when Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers talked each other into doing the broad jump and the vertical job.
"The plan was that I wasn't going to jump," Hunter said. "But I started talking to Da'Rick and he wasn't going to jump, but he said if I jumped he would jump and that's what happened, but then he didn't do the broad jump."
Hunter unofficially broad jumped 11 foot 6 inches and vertical jumped 40.5 inches. Da'Rick Rogers vertical jumped 38 inches at 219 pounds. Hunter weighed in at 200 pounds and Patterson tipped the scales at 217.