B.J. Coleman had some nervous moments Monday. The former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga quarterback had to sit still at his doctor's office in Hattiesburg, Miss., as the cast was cut off his right hand.
Almost anyone would be a little nervous about having a blade so close to his flesh, but for a quarterback hoping to have an NFL career, that was his money-maker on the line.
"I was very nervous about getting the cast off, and I was nervous getting out of the cast, to be honest with you," Coleman said. "I didn't know how my hand was going to feel. The biggest thing is getting the stiffness out."
After breaking the pinky on his throwing hand while training for the NFL combine, Coleman was in a cast for three weeks. That forced him to miss out on throwing at the combine. He did all the interviews and a few running drills but couldn't throw alongside his fellow prospects.
Coleman said he went straight from having the cast removed to a throwing session. The little finger is not an integral part of how he throws the ball, but he's under doctor's orders to take it easy for a little while before going full speed ahead.
"I don't know if he was too keen with me having a football in my hand right away, but I wasn't really gripping it," Coleman said. "They want to make sure everything's setting properly since I'm only three weeks post injury, but I also have to get ready for my pro day. I should be good to go in a couple of days."
During a conference call Thursday, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Coleman was a "a fifth- or sixth-round projection" and could follow a path similar to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
"I think you put him on the shelf and let him develop as a third-string quarterback, and maybe in three or four years you have something," Kiper said of Coleman. "He's going to have to take that Tony Romo-type career situation and work with that. Be off the radar. Learn. Adapt. Transition.
"Then, all of a sudden, there will be B.J. Coleman in some preseason games getting some action, and if they see enough there, he can project to something down the road. Romo was undrafted out of Eastern Illinois and had a fifth-round grade."
Like Coleman, former Red Bank and Tennessee Tech receiver Tim Benford was hampered at the combine by injury. A rib/oblique strain limited what Benford could do, and he said he's still not 100 percent yet.
Coleman and former UTC and McCallie teammate Joel Bradford, a two-time all-conference wideout, are planning to get together next week in Nashville to work out in preparation for UTC's April 2 pro day. Benford said he will participate in UTC's instead of Tennessee Tech's pro day because of the opportunity to perform with Coleman.