Wide receiver Nathan Slaughter hauls in a pass during Sunday's NFL Veterans Combine. The Cardinals signed Slaughter Monday. (Photo courtesy Bruce Yeung)
He was in the Cardinals' backyard, and he's fast. That wasn't a bad combination for the Cardinals.
So the team, after seeing young wide receiver Nate Slaughter at the NFL Veteran Combine Sunday at the Cardinals' Tempe facility run sub-4.4 40s, signed him to the 90-man roster. Slaughter becomes the first of the 105 players in attendance at the first Veterans
Combine to sign with a team.
"We'd love guys to get signed," NFL director of player development Matt Birk said during Sunday's combine. "I think that would make everybody feel good (about the combine.) Obviously our teams would feel good about it, players would feel good about it. The future (of the event), everybody would feel good about it."
Slaughter was an undrafted rookie out of West Texas A&M last year. He originally signed with the Texans and then was with the Jaguars before getting hurt early in training camp. He did not appear in a game, preseason or regular season.
At 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds, Slaughter was a standout return man in college. His senior season, he had three kickoff returns for touchdowns and averaged 41.7 yards a return. Not coincidentally, the Cardinals are in need of a kickoff return man, although Slaughter figures to be a long shot to make the roster.
CALVIN JOHNSON CATCH RULE STAYS THE SAME
The competition committee helps guide the rules changes on which teams must vote at these meetings. Monday, the committee spokesmen – Rams coach Jeff Fisher, Falcons president Rich McKay and NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino – talked about the act of making a catch when going to the ground. The rule was under intense scrutiny this season when an apparent Dez Bryant touchdown catch for the Cowboys against the Packers in the playoffs was wiped out as an incompletion.
The rule will not change, Blandino said. Instead, the league has tried to "clean up the language" of the rule. Instead of a "football move" needed to show the act of the catch has been completed, now a receiver must "clearly establish himself as a runner."
Blandino said the rule now falls "directly in line" with the defenseless player rule in terms of a receiver becoming a runner. Because Bryant never got his feet underneath him as he lunged for the goalline, when the ball popped loose it was an incompletion and would still be an incompletion.
Fisher said as a coach, the concept is simple. "If you're going to the ground, hang on to the ball," he said.
COMPETITION COMMITTEE AGAINST REPLAY CHANGES
The competition committee remains against any significant changes to the replay system, despite some pushing for the ability to challenge penalties. Fisher said there was research done on the possibility of challenging hits on defenseless players and on defensive pass interference.
Many of the defenseless player hits take 20 to 30 minutes – if not longer – to be reviewed and debated on Monday morning at the league office, Fisher said. That's a timeline that would make doing it during a game difficult. As for pass interference, the NFL looked at the Canadian Football League's experiment at challenges. A total of 55 challenges were made and 49 were by a coach – with only six being overturned. Those were ratios that didn't make sense, Fisher said.
"Basically what you'd be doing is adding another element of subjectivity (to penalties)," Fisher said.