2012 Senior Bowl

DD Comments live and direct from Mobile, Alabama

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Senior Bowl 2012 Photos.

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Day 3 Practice Notes: South.

Conditions were balmy for today's practice; the final full contact practice of the week. This is probably the last practice we will be reporting on, as action of the week winds down. The weather was great and overall it was another successful year in Mobile.

How to succeed at the Senior Bowl, Rule 5: Disparaging your college team will not endear you to future employers.

TRENCH POSITIONS:

Miami linebacker Sean Spence lacks ideal size but flies around the field, making sure tackles and sticking close to backs and tight ends in coverage. Spence figures out the play and brings the forward progress of the ball carrier to a halt. Spence comes from a great pedigree of Miami linebackers and carries a second round grade as a weak side 4-3 linebacker.

Illinois guard Jeff Allen was moved inside to guard for most of today's practice, where he looked more comfortable than in prior sessions. Allen is not an ideal athlete but he shows toughness and decent technique in pass protection. Allen did an effective job this week and is a likely top 150 selection.

Louisiana State guard Will Blackwell is another tackle moved to guard, and showed that he is effective pass protector. He has good size and makes up for less than ideal athleticism with very good technique. Blackwell has a solid base, keeps his feet moving and is a likely late round target in April's draft.

Alabama center William Vlachos stood up to some fierce bull rushes in the Pit drills today, and has been quietly doing his job all week. He exhibits strong hand-play and can drop anchor, not allowing defenders to run him over or shed his blocks. Vlachos is a likely late round target, with upside to go higher pending workouts.

Florida defensive tackle Jaye Howard was effective in pass rush drills, showing good push and effective shedding blockers. Howard can gap clog and gap shoot, and it's rare to find a player with both sets of skills. Howard appeals to all defensive systems, projecting as both a 3-tech and a 5-tech tackle. Howard is a likely mid round selection, pending workouts.

SKILL POSITIONS:

North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins has excelled this week, blanketing receivers and making several exciting pass break-ups. Jenkins showed excellent quickness and break on the ball. Jenkins is a sure tackler in the run game and is strong jamming the receiver. On the down side, Jenkins lacks ideal height and his off the field problems probably put a ceiling on his stock at the early third round. His grade depends greatly on how much teams feel he has matured.

Alabama tight end Brad Smelley is making the most of his opportunity this week, catching every ball thrown his way. A skeptic might wonder if Smelley was invited purely due to his Crimson Tide affiliation. Regardless, Smelley has great hands and proved he belongs, despite lacking ideal size for the position. Smelley is a possible late round selection and also fits in offenses that feature an H-Back.

Louisiana Tech running back Lennon Creer had an impressive practice. Creer is fast getting to the edge and turning the corner, and also tough running up the middle. Creer also does a decent job in pass protection, and scouts prioritize that skill. From all accounts, Creer was great at the East-West Shrine Game, and he is building momentum after arriving as an injury replacement. Creer carries a late round grade, but like most running backs, could impact early and outperform that grade.

Louisiana State tight end Deangelo Peterson is a receiving tight end who displays better than expected blocking skills. Peterson had a strong day, making catches in the seam and running sharp routes. Unfortunately, Peterson's comments to the media about the play selection during his BCS championship game loss will be a red flag for teams. Peterson is still a likely late round selection, with upside to go higher if runs well.

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Day 3 Practice Notes: North.

Sunny and warm conditions at Ladd Peebles Stadium for Wednesday morning's full pad practice. A decent breeze flowed across the stadium from end zone to end zone, close your eyes it feels like you are on the beach. Well it would, if not for all the frantic shouting, whistles, air-horns, and body slams.

How to succeed at the Senior Bowl, Rule 4: Quarterbacks, pull the trigger, please. Scouts didn't travel all these miles to see you tuck and run.

TRENCH POSITIONS:

Iowa State offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele had an up-and-down day. Initially, defenders were getting the better of him in drills, and he lost his balance. But after some coaching, Osemele came back and had several lockdown performances. Osemele is raw but has rare athletic gifts for a player of his bulk. When he stays over his base he plays with strength and is tough to move. He is a solid second or third round pick, with upside to start, probably not right away however.

Penn State defensive end Jack Crawford was a force all day long. He ran over linemen in the Pit drills and created penetration in the team portion of practice. Crawford excels at using arm extension to create separation from blockers and he also aggressively uses smart hand placement. Crawford also displayed a non-stop motor on the outside. Crawford is probably on the cusp of top 100 selections, and can firm that grade up with good track performances.

Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry had an excellent overall day. Curry has an array of pass rush moves: he can swim, rip, push-pull and also blow by his blocker around the edge. Curry has a nice first step and plays with strength setting the edge. One thing to note, Curry was not used in linebacker drills and is likely a 4-3 hand in the dirt defensive end all the way. Other sites have this player projected to the 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker, this is probably wishful thinking. He fits one gap schemes well (for example the Minnesota Vikings, who are coaching this North squad). Curry is a likely second round pick, possibly sneaking into the late first pending workouts.

Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner is an exceptional coverage player, and showed sideline to sideline speed sticking with running backs and tight ends during drills. He has the attributes to be a three down linebacker in the league. Wagner can be overwhelmed filling against the run and needs to improve his stoutness. Wagner is a possible top 100 pick, pending workouts.

Nevada linebacker James-Michael Johnson excels inside the box. He is extremely stout against the run and does a good job diagnosing the play. Johnson can be exploited in pass coverage, however and he might be a two-down run specialist at the next level. However he does offer blitz potential and could be better off rushing the passer than trying to cover in passing situations. Johnson looks to be an interesting late round target in the draft.

Arkansas State linebacker Demarrio Davis shows quickness to fill the hole and stuff run plays. He also has enough speed to get to the outside and stick with underneath coverage. Linemen have trouble finding him and getting their hands on him in run blocking. Davis is slightly undersized however and this could hurt his stock, limiting his appeal to only one-gap defenses. Davis is a possible late round pick, with upside to go in the mid rounds if he runs well.

Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David is a speedster at the linebacker position and extremely physical when making the tackle. David excels in pursuit and stretching run plays out to the sideline. David lacks the bulk for two-gap defenses but could be an excellent weak-side backer for 4-3 teams. David has incredible production on film and because of that, is a possible top 100 pick, pending workouts.

SKILL POSITIONS:

Boise State running back Doug Martin has been very good all week long. Martin broke a long run in the first rep of team drills. He has explosion and burst through the hole, but also shiftiness and vision to find open space. Martin is stocky and can be tough to bring down. On the downside itís questionable if this player has the extra gear to outrun N.F.L. defenses, and that question can be answered on the track. The coaches are using him at kick returner, and that bodes well for his long speed. Martin is a solid second or third round pick, with upside to crack the late first, pending workouts.

Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins had a very solid day of practice. He throws a nice sharp ball and has the strength to deliver the ball outside the numbers. Cousins shows accuracy on routes over the middle, and does a good job putting the ball in stride, where the receivers can make yards after the catch. Cousins is a likely mid round pick and likely backup initially.

Washington running back Chris Polk is a tough runner and excels inside the tackles. Polk delivers blows to the defenders, stays low, and is a chore to tackle. On the downside, he appears to lack the elite speed needed to break the long gain but could be a grinder in a run-first tandem. Polk is a likely late round pick with potential to go in the mid rounds with good workouts.

Cal wide out Marvin Jones has been a consistently high performer all week. He makes all the grabs and runs sharp routes, quickly in and out of cuts. The quarterbacks know they can rely on Jones, and he is seeing increased targets. Jones was somewhat of a sleeper prior to this week but the word is clearly out and has elevated his stock to top 100 status, pending workouts.

Iowa wide out Marvin McNutt is a larger receiver who had a pretty good day. He has the size to overpower the defenders in man coverage and get off the line against the jam. McNutt has big, sure hands, and today he excelled in a variety of routes. A particular strength of his game is presenting a big target for crossing and out routes. McNutt probably lacks the elite speed to be a high draft pick, but could be a productive security blanket type target in the mid rounds.

Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith is a sure tackler and showed good range getting around the field. Smith excels against the run and can support the line with speed. Smith needs to do a better job of diagnosing the play and his change of direction could be improved. Smith is a likely late round target at this time.

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Day 2 Practice Notes: South.

Afternoon practice in Ladd Peebles Stadium was overcast, but the temperature was warmer and less windy than the morning session. Overall, this has been an enjoyable week in the Mobile area, balmy compared to prior years.

How to Succeed at the Senior Bowl, Rule 3: Listen up: if you can learn fast in Mobile, you can learn fast in the league.

TRENCH POSITIONS:

North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown was extremely impressive today. Brown can stick with running backs and tight ends in coverage, and displayed athleticism with several nice pass break ups in drills. Brown is a complete player who can disrupt run plays, both up the middle and from sideline-to-sideline. He stops and starts on a dime and seems to diagnose where the play is going a touch faster than the other linebackers. Brown has top notch speed and agility, and should be an interesting player to watch during the Indianapolis Combine. Brown currently carries a solid first round grade.

Alabama-Birmingham offensive tackle Matt McCants is an interesting prospect. He has great length and foot speed, and usually finds the right positioning to get in the way of the rusher. McCants even had some success against Quinton Coples (who has been otherwise un-blockable this week). On the down side, McCants needs to get stronger in the run game and can be overwhelmed with the bull-rush. McCants is a finesse player at this point, but a player with his agility will get the attention of scouts. In summary, McCants is a mid-round project but has potential to start in the future.

Florida State offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders puts in an extremely high effort but it is not always controlled. He can get overextended and lose balance, and spends too much time on the turf. Like McCants, he has above average foot speed and could be developed by the right positional coach to eventually start in the league. Sanders carries a mid round grade due to his raw technique.

Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson showed he could get up the field, and in drills he often shed blocks of interior linemen to make plays in the back field. He's a tough guy to move, and clogs up the middle. Thompson is true nose tackle in any defensive system and even offers a little pass rush, which was surprising. Thompson is a likely top 100 selection, pending workouts.

North Carolina defensive tackle Tydreke Powell is an absolute load at the point of attack, and is an excellent run defender. Powell doesn't offer much in the pass game and is probably a late round, two-down player in the league.

Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson showed very good speed getting to the ball carrier, and usually delivered a big hit upon arrival. Robinson is another player who could burn up the track in Indianapolis. Robinson appears to have the potential to be a starter at multiple spots in a 4-3 system, but will have to perform well on the track to solidify that projection, and garner a top 100 pick.

Georgia center Ben Jones was solid in practice today. He wasn't flashy, and he wasn't amazing, but he's a hard-hat, lunch-pail tough guy type who just gets the job done by any means necessary. Jones is a mid-to-late round pick who could eventually start in the right system.

SKILL POSITIONS:

Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden is having a great week so far. He throws an accurate football and shows excellent decision making in finding the open man. On the down side he can be flat footed in the pocket. But still, a reasonable case could be made he is the best quarterback in town.

So, what is his draft value? Weeden is a controversial prospect because of his relatively advanced age. Some believe he should be a first round draft pick, based purely on his performance. Ah, if only life were fair, that might happen. Scouts are worried about wear on his arm from baseball, and GM's are worried that he will be in his mid-thirties when he reaches his second contract. He will need to adjust to the speed of the league and it takes some quarterbacks as long as 8 years to make that adjustment. He would have to be great right away, and that's a tough expectation.

As such, a conservative grade for this player is the mid rounds, possibly as high as the late third. There are projections that have him higher than that, and we shall see. To be clear, he's not a bad player, just carrying the baggage of his age. On a personal note, I root for this player, as there is a lot to like about his game, (and even more to like about his intangibles as a leader).

On the other side of the spectrum, San Diego State quarterback Ryan Lindley is getting blasted for his accuracy issues (which are significant). But let's run down the positives: he has an extremely live arm, he has been successful throwing slants and the deep ball, and unlike other quarterbacks here, he stands much taller than six feet tall. Lindley has the upside to improve and is an interesting late-round developmental backup prospect.

Arizona wide out Juron Criner had an outstanding day, making multiple plays all over the field. Notably, Criner made the catch of the week to date with a wonderful one-handed grab of a ball thrown well behind him. As with all the wide receivers, his draft value will depend on workouts, and he looks like a long stride who might have trouble timing well on the track. Regardless, he has possession and red zone value and certainly helped his stock today. Criner is a mid-round prospect with upside to go top 100 with a good 40-yard dash.

Houston wide out Patrick Edwards might be the smallest player in Mobile this week, weighing in at 168 pounds. Still, he makes the most of his gifts, and completely sells out to make plays. Edwards bailed out his quarterback on several occasions and displayed both sure hands and deep speed during today's practice. Edwards is a mid-round prospect who could go higher, if he times as fast as he appears to run.

Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Dwight "Bill" Bentley is a smooth coverage player who backpedals well and drives hard to the football when it is thrown. Bentley had an exceptional interception in drills, diving to snag a tipped ball just before it hit the ground. Bentley could easily find his way into the second round, pending workouts.

Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward is a sticky coverage player who exhibits above average awareness of both the receiver and the football. Hayward seems to lack elite speed and can be beat on deep routes. But in off-man coverage or a zone system, keeping the play in front of him, Hayward excels. Hayward plays smart and there are few wasted motions in his game. Hayward will be graded higher by Cover-2 or Zone schemes and could sneak into the top 100 if the right team comes along. Probably more of a top 150 pick after workouts.

Louisiana State defensive back Brandon Taylor had the hardest hit of the day, running headlong into Vick Ballard and making the stadium go OOOOH. That hit was as much Ballard's doing as Taylor's but either way it was a giant collision. Taylor shows good awareness in coverage, and if he proves his athleticism at the combine, a likely mid round pick.

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Day 2 Practice Notes: North.

Another day in paradise: sunny but gusty conditions at Ladd-Peebles stadium for this morning's North practice. The Vikings coaching staff ran a professional and peppy practice, with the time periods clearly marked on field clocks.

How to Succeed at the Senior Bowl, Rule 2: Go ahead, start a fight. Scouts and coaches love it.

TRENCH POSITIONS:

Ohio State center Mike Brewster and Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin didn't quite come to blows, but they were chippy in drills, and on-lookers love that sort of fire. The fact that these two players were from rival schools added to the drama. Overall, Martin had an excellent day. He's got a non-stop motor, plays with leverage and can gap-shoot to blow up the play. Not a fit for 2 gap defenses but certain teams should grade him out as a solid mid-round pick.

As has been noted on other sites, Ohio State tackle Mike Adams is the cream of the crop on the North offensive line. Despite being very tall, he's graceful and easy out of his stance and controls the man in front of him. He has great hands and doesn't get beat often. This player is likely an instant starter at either tackle position and should be in play in the top half of the first round.

One player who did get the best of Adams at least once was Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson. Johnson has a great first step and had to cycle through a variety of pass rush moves to get the job done, but finally beat the Buckeye with a nice swim move in the Pit drills.

UConn defensive end Kendall Reyes had an excellent day. He showed ability to turn the corner on edge rushes and held the point of attack against the run. He was disruptive in 11-on-11 drills and is an overall extremely underrated player. Pending workouts, Reyes' value is in the mid-round area, on the cusp of top 100.

Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler is an efficient blocker in pass protection, and often buried his man in run game. The word mauler is often overused but Zeitler is the classic definition of an interior mauler.

Utah offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom was a bit of a sleeper before this week, but scouts are waking up to his play. He had a great morning in drills, pancaking a defender who shall remain nameless in the Pit, and generally doing a great job in blocking. He has exceptional technique and should be a great fit for teams that emphasize the zone running scheme.

SKILL POSITIONS:

Boise State safety George Iloka had an excellent interception in 11-on-11 drills where he laid out for the football and snatched it with good hands. Iloka is impressing scouts with his aggression, pursuit and break to the ball. For a taller safety he has fluid hips and that is a rare combination. It should be noted that Illoka is roughly the same size as some of the linebackers in this game, and he's really making an impact. We are still early in the process, but If he can work out well, could be a second or third round pick.

Appalachian State wide out Brian Quick is raw in route running but displayed sure hands and the ability to climb the ladder and bring down high passes. Coaches undoubtedly see a lot of potential to mold.

Iowa State cornerback Leonard Johnson had a good day, directing traffic and sticky in coverage. He had an excellent deep pass break-up in 11-on-11 and can jam well off the line. Overall, Leonard is an effective man-to-man defender, and his stock could be on the rise.

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Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden impresses, and other South Day 1 practice notes from Rookie Draft.

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Boise State runningback Doug Martin impresses, and other North Day 1 practice notes from Draft Countdown.

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Old Dominion defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron draft prospect journal.

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Day 1 Practice Notes: South.

After this morning's rain shower, Fairhope's usually immaculate grass field had sloppy conditions that favored the defense. Quarterback-to-center exchanges were messy and there was slipping by players on both sides of the ball. Receivers had to be extra sure of their grip on catches and everyone was challenged by the new N.F.L. footballs. All-in-all, it was a good test for players in less than ideal situations.

As usual, the first day of Senior Bowl practices are in shells, (just shoulder pads and shorts) and it can be difficult for players to judge the difference between full contact and half speed. As a side gig I might start a training course in how to succeed at the Senior Bowl. Rule 1: Except for hitting the QB, go full speed, even when they say otherwise. Without further ado, let's get to the practice notes.

TRENCH POSITIONS:

Georgia offensive lineman Cordy Glenn answered questions today about his positional future; there is no doubt that he can play tackle in the league, and in fact was the first team left tackle for the South in team drills. As expected he was a load in the run game and mauled players in 9-on-7 drills. For a man of his size, he has remarkable foot quickness and does an adequate job in pass protection. He certainly wasn't perfect against edge rushers, of which the South squad has several notable talents, but he does the job. With 35 inch plus arms, he's a chore to get around. Equivalent pro player comparisons might be to Marcus McNeill or Shawn Andrews (thanks to Chris Steuber for that last comparison, it is especially astute). Like Andrews, his value might peak at the middle of the first round.

North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples was among the class of the South defense. Coples is a pass rush terror and had several clean wins in the Pit drills. He displayed up-field explosion and a decent variety of moves. On the down side, he was having some trouble getting off of run blocks against Cordy Glenn, but even in that respect he improved as practice progressed. These two players had great battles. There are still questions about this player's consistency, but if we use only today as a guide, Coples might be the highest selected player in town this week.

Alabama defensive end Courtney Upshaw is another outstanding South defender who will likely be selected extremely high in April's draft. He's excellent setting the edge against the run, and also can burst in the backfield to disrupt the pocket. He might not display impressive timed speed but he has excellent short-area quickness. He's great in pursuit and shutting down plays to his side of the field. There is much to like about Upshaw, but one notable aspect is his hand-play. He's got a violent punch that displaces the blocker, and that skill is hard to find among college seniors. Most project this player as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he's likely scheme-diverse and could help any team.

South Carolina defensive end Melvin Ingram shares many of the same qualities as his South teammate Upshaw. He's stout against the run and aggressive rushing the passer. Like Upshaw, he's excellent in pursuit from the back side. Ingram lacks a refined punch, and neither player are likely to impress over 40-yards. But in the box area he's a versatile player that gets out of the blocks quickly and often disrupts the play. Ingram is a player which I look forward to watching in the upcoming full-contact practices, as he has a tendency for making big plays.

SKILL POSITIONS:

Arkansas wide out Joe Adams was impressive for his speed and ability to create separation. He's a solid route runner with above average hands and has potential to be a true deep threat. Although he weighed in light, at 174 pounds, he is built for speed and is helping his stock with his play on the field. This player was thought to be a sleeper mid-round target, and while that might still be true, the secret is quickly getting out.

Arizona quarterback Nick Foles is a smooth thrower that often takes what the defense gives. He will check down rather than force a bad throw, and while that isn't always exciting, the scouts appreciate that in a signal caller. Foles has great height and a live arm, but he also throws a catchable football. Past the top two, there is still a spot open for that annual third quarterback in the mid to late first round. Foles didn't seal that up with today's practice but he's put his name in the conversation.

Texas A&M wide out Jeff Fuller showed sure hands and had an impressive day. The highlight was a sweet diving catch along the deep sideline, bodying out the defender along the way. Fuller had a tough year but has always had the talent to make an impact. Fuller could be on his way to having a very profitable week.

Mississippi State tailback Vick Ballard made two excellent over the shoulder grabs along the sideline in skeleton drills. This was somewhat unexpected, as Ballard is known primarily for his tough running. Undoubtedly that skill will be on display when the hitting ramps up tomorrow, but for now the hands were a pleasant surprise.

Finally, Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin and North Carolina wide out Dwight Jones had several excellent battles in coverage. Boykin is crafty and active, what he lacks in ideal measurables, he makes up in instincts and awareness Boykin is a player who could rise up the boards, not just for his coverage, but for his skills in the return game. As for Jones, he's a rare athlete, who, with a solid week, could capture the attention of scouts in an overall weak wide out year.

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For professional quality write-up of Monday's North Practice, please visit site friends: Draft Countdown.

Additional high quality skill positions write-up of the South practice can be found from another site friend: Rookie Draft.

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Listed alphabetically by last name, the following players may have helped themselves at the weigh-in:

Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham: 6'2", 237, looked to be in excellent condition.

North Carolina State linebacker Audie Cole: 6'4", 248, Athletic, reminds of Clay Matthews III.

Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David: 6'0", 225, Weighed in 15 pounds heavier than listed 210.

Nebraska defensive back Alfonzo Dennard: 5'10", 203, Tall enough, looked in great shape.

Arizona quarterback Nick Foles: 6'5", 244, Extremely tall, great height for the QB position.

North Carolina State wide receiver T.J. Graham: 5'11", 182, and built for speed.

Vanderbilt defensive back Casey Hayward: 5'11", 188, looked to be in great shape.

North Carolina wide out Dwight Jones: 6'3", 226, looked to be in great shape.

Iowa State defensive back Leonard Johnson: 5'10", 198, might be in the best physical condition of any athlete here.

Oklahoma State defensive back Markelle Martin: 6'0", 203, looked to be in great shape.

Iowa State offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele: 6'5" 333, tackle measurables (arm-length) but 10 pounds lighter than listed.

Cincinnati running back Isaish Pead: 5'10", 195, and in excellent condition.

Appalachian State wide out Brian Quick: 6'3", 224, looked to be in great shape.

Arizona State wide out Gerell Robinson: 6'3", 223, looked to be in great shape.

Furman defensive back Ryan Steed: 5'10", 190, looked to be in great shape.

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Listed alphabetically by last name, the following players may have hurt themselves at the weigh-in:

Alabama wide out Marquis Maze: 5'8" 184, measured 2 inches shorter than listed.

Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore: 5'11", 191, measured shorter than listed.

Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson: 5'10", 203, measured shorter than listed.

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If any specific questions about certain prospects, please contact @draftdaddy on Twitter.

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