NFL combine change has players skipping out on bench press

Associated Press

Indianapolis — The 225-pound bench press is the new 40-yard dash.

Plenty of players have long skipped the 40 at the NFL scouting combine, preferring to run it at their college pro days instead.

Now, it’s the bench press they’re forgoing because it was moved from the day prior to on-field drills at Lucas Oil Stadium to the same day, in part to accommodate the shift of workouts to prime time for television.

Only 18 of 59 offensive linemen opted to see how many times they could lift the weights Friday.

Other positions are seeing a similar rash of players skipping the one drill even injured players routinely agreed to. Some players said they felt it would leave their muscles too spent and sap their strength or mobility in other drills.

“I’m just going to do it at my pro day,” former Colorado linebacker Nate Landman said. “My bench would be at 10 a.m. and my 40′s at 8 p.m. You don’t want to rile up and go back down and then try to rile back up again, which a lot of guys are finding out.

“And it’s a lot of stress, this whole process. And so, when I can relieve that by pushing some stuff to pro day, then why not? Just to be at peak performance.”

Last week, organizers said they changed the schedule to shorten the time players spend in Indianapolis — in response to previous post-combine surveys. They also said they moved the bench press because some players and agents complained the soreness from the day after lifting negatively impacted their workout results.

Still, teams like to do comparison shopping at the combine where the conditions are controlled and surfaces are the same. Pro day statistics can be unreliable because of a wide variance in conditions and setup.

So, instead of the usual, “I’m not going to run the 40,” many players are saying, “I’m doing everything except the bench press” — at the urging of others.

“I was hoping to do 42 (reps) to get the linebackers record," said Leo Chenal, who played at Wisconsin and whose his trainers advised against lifting in Indy. “I don't know what I'll do at pro day, but I'll be happy with 40.”