On the first day of bench press work at the Scouting Combine, two players had to stop with injuries.
Rutgers tight end D.C. Jefferson’s injury sounds like it could be serious. He was taken to an Indianapolis hospital, and his agent told USA Today that he might have suffered a torn pectoral muscle. That’s a serious injury that could prevent him from doing any pre-draft workouts, and as Jefferson was viewed as a late-round pick already, it could move him right out of the draft.
USC center Khaled Holmes suffered a strained pectoral muscle on the bench press, but it sounds like his injury is not as serious as Jefferson’s. Jason La Canfora of CBS reported that Holmes isn’t sure if he’ll be able to do the on-field work for offensive linemen on Saturday.
Kent State guard Brian Winters also stopped his bench press early because he was in pain, but he later said it was just a muscle cramp and he’d be fine.
This is the first time in 16 years that Cardinals strength coach John Lott hasn’t been the man running the Combine bench press. Lott became a favorite of NFL Network because of the way he’d shout at players to push themselves, but some agents expressed concern that Lott was going to get someone hurt by pushing players too hard.
Serious injuries at the Combine are rare, but they do happen. Last year Iowa tackle Markus Zusevics tore his pectoral muscle during the bench press and went undrafted, although he did sign with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent. Former Florida State wide receiver De’Cody Fagg suffered a very serious knee injury while doing drills at the Combine in 2008, an injury that was feared to be career-ending. Fagg never played in the NFL but he did eventually recover and play Arena football.
Although players obviously want to give it their all at the Combine, the wise thing to do is shut it down at the first sign of pain. Trying to gut out an extra bench press rep isn’t worth the risk of an injury.