Gatlin, banned from track, works out for Texans

12/1/2006 - Houston Texans

The Houston Texans worked out the world's fastest man, Justin Gatlin, on Tuesday, but that doesn't mean he's making a fast entrance into the NFL.

The Texans didn't make a big deal out of the Tuesday visit. They looked at Gatlin like they did two other receivers: Kevin McMahan of Maine and Jovan Witherspoon of Central Michigan. NFL teams usually bring in players for Tuesday workouts while the 53 players on the regular roster take a day off.

The only difference in this workout was the name recognition of Gatlin, the 100-meter gold medal winner in the 2004 Summer Olympics. Gatlin holds the world record for running the 100 meters in 9.76 seconds.

In April, he tested positive for the banned substance testosterone and accepted an eight-year ban from track and field.

Though the Texans wouldn't be willing to sign him for this season, they are one of the first NFL teams to look at him for future contracts, which teams can start signing in late December.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak said team officials told Gatlin he was "very impressive.'"

"I'm sure it would be a big step for him to step up and start playing football," Kubiak said. "But that looks like it's something that he's interested in."

The reason for the slow reaction by NFL teams to Gatlin's availability is his lack of football experience. At the University of Tennessee he ran track instead of playing football. He hadn't played football since 10th grade.

Still, he's an interesting athlete to study. He's 6-foot-1, 180-pounds and only 24 years old. His agent is former track star Renaldo Nehemiah.

"It was positive," Kubiak said of the workout. "He did a good job. Some of our people who were over there watching him were amazed at how fast he ran. I don't even know if he was full speed at that time. But he did catch the ball pretty good."

Senior writer John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.