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Lunchbreak: NFL.com Breaks Down 16 New Combine Drills

The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine kicks off in Indianapolis this week, and this year a variety of tweaks will accompany mainstays.

While several timing and testing drills will remain the same – including the familiar 40-year dash – there also will be 16 new drills introduced to the player-specific workouts.

According to NFL.com's Nick Shook, "defensive backs will see the most changes, with more than 50 percent of their combine workout featuring new tests."

Shook broke down each new drill by position group ahead of this year's on-field workouts, which will start on Thursday with quarterbacks, receivers and tight ends.

The quarterbacks will now participate in a timed smoke/now route drill, and end zone fade routes have been added to routes thrown. Running backs will have a change of direction added to routes run, and the Duce Staley drill is a new-look test. Shook wrote:

Named after the former Eagles running back and current assistant coach, the drill will involve a running back lining up behind a horizontal step-over bag that is part of three bags laid to form a cross. The running back will step over the bag in front of him, then laterally over the perpendicular bag, then backward over the other horizontal bag before repeating the path in the opposite direction. Coaches lined up eight yards away holding pop-up dummies will move in coordinated fashion, creating a hole for the running back to identify before exploding through it. The drill is designed to display a running back's ability to use his eyes while navigating physical obstacles as a ballcarrier might perform while running an inside zone play, which doesn't create a defined target for the running back, but instead the possibility for a number of options to run through.

For reference, the running backs had the pitch-and-cone drill, as well as the find-the-ball drill, eliminated this year with the new additions.

Receivers no longer will participate in a toe-tap drill but instead will run end zone fade routes, while the offensive linemen will have new mirror and screen drills. The following was explained of the screen drill:

Player will set in pass protection position, then release and sprint toward the first coach holding a blocking shield 15 yards wide of starting point to simulate engage and release action of a screening lineman. If the first coach steps upfield, player must adjust direction and advance to second coach, at whom he will break down and engage. If first coach remains stationary, player will break down and engage him (and will not advance to second coach).

View throwback photos of current Vikings players from their performances at the NFL Scouting Combine over the years.

The new running backs drill isn't the only one named after an NFL coach. Among additions for the defensive backs is the Teryl Austin drill, a two-part test named after the Steelers secondary coach.

First, a player will backpedal five yards, then open and break downhill on a 45-degree angle before catching a thrown ball. Then a player will backpedal five yards, open at 90 degrees and run to the first coach and break down, then plant and turn around (180 degrees) to run toward a second coach and catch a ball from thrown by a QB before reaching the second coach.

Also added for the DBs were the line, box and gauntlet drill, while the close-and-speed turn and pedal-and-hip turn were eliminated.

To see details on all 16 new combine drills, click here.

View photos of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Vikings Ring of Honor member, Alan Page, who celebrates his birthday on August 7.

Alan Page makes 'eloquent case' for Jim Marshall to be in HOF

Hall of Fame defensive tackle and retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page spoke last week to high school students as part of a special Black History Month event.

Prior to the event, Mark Craig of the Star Tribune spoke with Page about the fact that his friend and former teammate, Jim Marshall, has not yet been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Craig and Page spoke in the lobby of the Vikings Museum, fitting that exhibits behind them tell the stories of the Purple People Eaters and first decades of the Vikings franchise.

"Jim was the absolute heartbeat of our entire team for 19 seasons," Page told Craig. "Nineteen years, Jim was the leader of our team."

Craig wrote:

A team that went to four Super Bowls in eight seasons from 1969 to a '76. A team whose defense posted one of the most dominant three-year stretches in league history, giving up 9.5, 10.2 and 9.9 points per game with seven shutouts from 1969-71. A team that sent defensive tackle Page, defensive end Carl Eller, center Mick Tingelhoff, quarterback Fran Tarkenton, offensive tackle Ron Yary, safety Paul Krause, [Head Coach] Bud Grant and General Manager Jim Finks to the Hall of Fame.

A team that won't rest as long as Marshall, their co-captain and extroverted leader, remains outside the walls of the shrine in Canton, Ohio.

When Marshall retired in 1979 after 20 NFL seasons, he had played in every game, every week, for one-third of the league's 60-year existence. Marshall's record 270 consecutive starts stood until Brett Favre broke it 30 years later while playing for the Vikings.

As the NFL turns toward its second century, Marshall's 282 consecutive games played ranks third behind punter Jeff Feagles (352) and Favre (299).

"Jim not only had the excellence deserving of the Hall of Fame, but he also had longevity that's never been seen by anyone else in 100 years," Page told Craig. "No offense to kickers and quarterbacks, but Jim hit someone or was hit by someone on every play for 20 years.

"You can't do what without (A) being available every single day; (B) being good enough; and (C) playing at such a high level that a team would want to keep you around that long," Page added.

There was hope when the Hall announced plans for a 20-member Centennial class for 2020. But Marshall wasn't among the 10 senior candidates chosen by the Hall's one-time "Blue Ribbon" committee.

Page called it "the biggest shame."

"No matter what happens, nothing changes," he told Craig. "Jim Marshall had a great career that never will be forgotten."

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