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Laval tight end Antony Auclair shows he can play hurt at his pro day

Auclair plays hurt during his pro day

For the majority of football players, a pro day is an opportunity to show off their athleticism. On Monday, Antony Auclair used his to display his grit and toughness.

The Laval Rouge et Or tight end went through his paces before 17 NFL scouts. And the native of Notre-Dame-des-Pins, Que., did so despite suffering a pulled hamstring roughly 10 days ago.

Auclair said following Monday's session he considered rescheduling the workout before deciding to go ahead with it.

"I wanted to show I can play through an injury and be tough," Auclair said during a telephone interview. "All the scouts knew I was injured and I think I did a good job of showing them I could play through it and the competitor I am."

Despite the injury, the six-foot-six, 254-pound Auclair posted a 33 1/2-inch vertical jump and nine-foot, nine-inch broad jump — both solid indicators of explosion and lower-body strength. Auclair, 23, also registered a personal-best 22 reps in the 225-pound bench press and a respectable 40-yard dash time of 4.82 seconds given his physical condition.

"I was aiming for the high 4.6s or low 4.7s (in 40-yard dash)," Auclair said. "I'm happy but being the competitor that I am, I'm kind of disappointed with that.

"But I have to tell myself, 'Hey you're injured, man.'"

It's been a busy year for Auclair, whose season began in May participating in Canadian university football's East-West Bowl. He then returned to Laval, registering 17 catches for 229 yards and two TDs while also proving to be a terrific blocker in helping the Rouge et Or capture a Vanier Cup title.

Auclair had six catches for 70 yards and a TD in Laval's thrilling 31-26 championship win over Calgary.

Auclair was named the second-ranked prospect for the 2017 CFL draft in December before heading to the East-West Shrine game in January in St. Petersburg, Fla. There, he spoke with 25 NFL clubs.

Following that, Auclair turned his attention to preparing for his pro day. He now plans on taking a well-earned break but not for too long as he already has five interviews scheduled with NFL teams leading up the draft April 27-29 in Philadelphia.

"I'm going to rest this week definitely," he said. "I have an injury right now so I'm going to take care of it."

Mike Mayock, the NFL Network's draft guru, said Auclair impressed at the East-West Shrine game.

"He's a strong kid, a tough kid who works hard but he's a better athlete than I think people were expecting," Mayock said. "(He's) very raw, he doesn't know what he's doing yet, doesn't really know how to run routes the way he's going to have to run them.

"But he caught the ball well and because of his height-weight-speed combination, I think even in a really deep tight end class this year he could be late draftable."

The off-season presents prospects like Auclair with a long and rather unique job interview for NFL employment. They're poked, prodded, measured, timed, tested and interviewed repeatedly all in the hopes of hearing their name called by a club at the draft.

"I enjoy the process but to be honest it's a long one," Auclair said. "I think my body is a little tired from all the things I've done but I am enjoying it.

"It's a great opportunity and I don't think many players get this opportunity. I'm very glad to have it."

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press