published Monday, February 27th, 2012

Chattanooga duo upbeat on NFL combine experience

Injuries kept Tim Benford and B.J. Coleman from doing everything they wanted at the NFL combine in Indianapolis on Sunday.

Coleman had announced Friday that a finger injury would keep him from throwing, while Benford only ran the 40-yard dash and went through the pass-catching sessions Sunday because of a rib/oblique injury.

Despite the limitations, both Chattanoogans said their combine experiences were overwhelmingly positive.

"I had a great experience and it was a great opportunity," said Coleman, the former McCallie and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga quarterback. "Being able to do the medical and checking out great and then doing all the interviews with guys, that for a quarterback is a huge deal at this place."

Benford, a former Red Bank and Tennessee Tech wide receiver, ran the 40 Sunday morning in 4.59 seconds, according to the NFL's official numbers. The NFL Network clocked him in 4.53, but most of the network's times were slightly faster than the official numbers.

According to the NFL Network, the fastest wideout Sunday was Georgia Tech's Stephen Hill, who was clocked at a 4.30. But his official time was 4.36, which tied Stanford's Chris Owusu for the fastest.

Regardless, Benford said he was OK with what he ran.

"As long as I was in the 4.5s, I was good," said Benford, the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference offensive player of the year who was measured at 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds during the combine. "I was going for the 4.4s, but all week I've been running on a bad rib and I wasn't 100 percent."

Because of the fractured pinky on his throwing hand, Coleman did not participate in any of the throwing activities Sunday. Of the 19 quarterbacks at the combine, five did not run the 40 due to various injuries.

Coleman did do the broad jump (9 feet, 1 inch), the 20-yard shuttle (4.38 seconds) and the three-cone drill (7.07 seconds).

"I was very happy that I was able to get out there and do something," Coleman said. "I just wish I could have done more."

Coleman said not being able to throw didn't hurt him too badly because the teams have game video of him and they saw him at the East-West Shrine Game, and they will have people at UTC's pro day on April 2.

"Listening to these gentlemen, the scouts and coaches, they said not to worry about it," Coleman said. "They could kind of tell that I was itching today [to be throwing] and they just said to hang tight. That made me feel good.

"You always want to get out and compete -- that's any ballplayer -- and I was sitting there watching every single thing that happened. But I don't think it's going to be a make or break deal."

Coleman returned to Hattiesburg, Miss., on Sunday to continue training. He will come home to Chattanooga after he gets his cast off in about a week. Benford returned to his training site in Naples, Fla., and also will return home in early March.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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