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Mark Ingram has clean bill of health

Alabama running back Mark Ingram, soon to be a first-round pick in Thursday's NFL draft, does not have any significant knee issues teams should worry about and to prove it, he's offering them a letter from noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews saying as much, according to a source familiar with the letter.

So much for that pre-draft rumor.

Further disproving the talk that the former Heisman Trophy winner should slide -- perhaps all the way out of the first round -- is the fact he was not asked to return to Indianapolis for a medical recheck for any reason, a source said. Potential draftees with medical red flags are often asked to return to the site of the Indianapolis Combine for rechecks so doctors can report the findings to interested teams.

Ingram is in New York since Monday and will be among the 25 players the NFL features on its draft show, which airs on ESPN Thursday evening. Players selected for such duty are typically considered first-round picks.

The clean bill of health is important to the Dolphins. Ingram is prominent on the team's radar because of his obvious talents -- having been named the Heisman winner in 2009 -- and because he would fill a dire need for Miami at the running back spot.

The Dolphins have only two running backs signed to contracts and both of them -- Kory Sheets and Lex Hilliard -- are unproven.

So where did this knee rumor begin? Well, Ingram did miss games early in the 2010 season because of a knee injury suffered in August.

On his way to the Heisman Trophy and a BCS title, he rushed for 1,658 yards and 20 touchdowns as a sophomore. Last season, he missed two games because of the knee injury and rushed for 875 yards and 13 touchdowns.

When he ran a 4.62 time at the Indy Combine, teams wondered if Ingram's knee where the reason. The medical reports apparently say otherwise and Ingram did improve his 40 time during his Pro Day workout when he ran 4.53.

Assuming Ingram does indeed hold a letter from Andrews vouching for his knee, that is a valuable piece of paper because teams general regard him as a credible and highly regarded source for medical information.

When, for example, Dolphins team doctors told Nick Saban that signing Drew Brees was a major risk based on his shoulder injury and subsequent surgery, Andrews sent the team a letter guaranteeing Brees would suffer no ill effects from surgery on his shoulder.

The Dolphins went with the opinion of the doctors over Andrews. Brees went to the New Orleans Saints, suffered no setbacks and has missed no games because of the shoulder, and is today among the NFL's elite quarterbacks.

 

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