Henson feels 'good' about NFL audition

2/13/2004 - Houston Texans

HOUSTON -- Drew Henson tried to show scouts Thursday he can
hit a post pattern better than he can hit a slider.

Representatives from 20 teams gathered at the Houston Texans'
practice bubble to watch Henson fire about 75 throws to four

"I felt good," said Henson, who was a third base prospect for
the New York Yankees until his release last week. "I threw as good
as I could have hoped today."

The Texans own the NFL rights to Henson, who last played
football for Michigan in the 2001 Citrus Bowl. If they don't trade
him before the April 24 draft, he goes back into the hopper, where
he's been projected as a late first-round pick. A trade can't
happen until March 4.

The Texans, who have a young quarterback in David Carr, drafted
Henson in the sixth round last year hoping he would give up
baseball and help work out a trade.

Henson never developed into the star third baseman the Yankees
sought when they lured him from football with a $17 million,
six-year deal in 2001. He decided to quit baseball early this
month, saying his heart was tugging him back to football.

The Texans scheduled Thursday's audition -- a day before his 24th
birthday -- after Henson agreed to forgo $12 million remaining on
his baseball deal.

The Buffalo Bills were the most conspicuous presence, sending
general manager Tom Donahoe, coach Mike Mularkey and new
quarterbacks coach Sam Wyche.

"You don't make any final decisions on these (open workouts),
you can only eliminate guys," Wyche said. "I don't think anyone
eliminated him today."

Texans general manager Charley Casserly won't say what the
Texans want, although a first-round pick isn't considered out of
the question. Besides the Bills, the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City
Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and New York Giants are considered prominent

Most teams sent scouts or assistant coaches. The only other head
coach was Green Bay's Mike Sherman, and the other general managers
were the Giants' Ernie Accorse and the Dolphins' Rick Spielman.

"He had an extremely good workout," Spielman said. "He showed
very good arm strength and he was very accurate with all of his

Kennan orchestrated the drills, calling for everything from
little square-outs to 60-yard fly patterns. Henson threw to four
receivers, including free agents Sylvester Morris and Joel
Makovicka, themselves hoping to impress teams.

"After this, Drew, myself and (agent) Tom Condon will sit down
find out who's interested," Casserly said. "We'll start talking
about contract, which will involve Tom Condon, and we'll talk
trade, which would be myself."

Under rookie contract rules, the most he can make initially is
$238,000, Casserly said. However, Casserly and Condon believe
Henson and a suitor could use some creativity to earn him a larger

Henson, mired in a deep slump to start the 2003 season at
Triple-A Columbus, insisted he was committed to baseball when the
Texans selected him. He finished the year with a .234 average and
122 strikeouts, and in a six-year minor-league career whiffed 556
times in 501 games.

By contrast, a good senior season at Michigan was expected to
land him at or near the top of the first round in 2002, where the
Texans picked Carr No. 1 overall and his home-state Detroit Lions
chose Joey Harrington third.

New York Jets offensive assistant Dick Curl acknowledged some of
the 20 teams were there mainly to see a future opponent. It didn't
escape his notice that two other AFC East members -- Miami and
Buffalo -- could have him next season.

"In this profession, you have to do your homework because you
never know what's going to happen," Curl said.