Iowa lineman hurts pectoral muscle at NFL combine

By Michael Marot

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Feb. 25 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

NFL hopefuls go through drills at the NFL football scouting combine at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012.

Dave Martin, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Markus Zusevics' NFL combine workout ended Saturday after he injured a pectoral muscle doing bench presses, according to a person familiar with the player.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because league officials had not yet released details of the injury.

The Iowa tackle measured in Thursday at 6-foot-5 and 303 pounds. He started the past two seasons with the Hawkeyes and was considered a strong, straight-line blocker in the running game who lacked explosiveness.

The league does carry insurance for injuries that occur at the combine, the person said without providing details, though any injury obviously could hurt the draft stock of a player.

Deciding whether to work out in Indy has always been a tricky choice for players. Former Colts vice chairman Bill Polian often argued agents who complained about Indianapolis' slow track must not have seen Edgerrin James or Marvin Harrison play on the same field, and NFL executives and coaches often encourage players to work out.

"We're going to have to go look at guys whether they work out here or not, and there are always circumstances where a guy has tweaked something and he's not able to work out here, so he will work out at his pro day," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. "I think generally, if a guy is healthy and he's able to, it's better for him to work out here because he gets total exposure. Every team in the NFL is here — general managers, head coaches, assistant coaches — whereas at your pro day, everybody's not going to be at your pro day."

In recent years, the trend has been for many big-name players to participate in some drills and stay out of others. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, for instance, plans to run Sunday in Indy. Neither Griffin nor Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck are expected to throw this weekend.

Most first-round prospects would rather perform skill tests at their school's pro day rather than around unfamiliar players and in an unfamiliar environment. Many participate in at least some of the drills.

But players projected to go after the first round, such as Zusevics, often try to impress scouts by doing as much as possible at the combine without incident.

SOONER TIME: Oklahoma won the unofficial track meet at the NFL's scouting combine Saturday.

James Hanna ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds, the fastest time by a tight end. Another Sooner, Donald Stephenson, had the fastest time among offensive linemen with a 4.94.

Stephenson and Southern California's Matt Kalil accomplished a rare feat for linemen, completing the sprint in less than five seconds. Kalil's 4.99 could help cement his spot as the No. 1 offensive tackle in the April draft. Only five offensive linemen finished in less than five seconds in the previous two years.

Stephenson, a 6-foot-6, 312-pound tackle, also had the best vertical jump by a lineman (35½ inches) and the longest broad jump (9 feet, 6 inches).

IN THE MARKET: Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum still likes Mark Sanchez as his starting quarterback.

He also made it clear this week that Sanchez needs to improve in 2012.

"We're fortunate he's our starter," Tannenbaum said. "You look at the balance of his three years, four road playoff wins, there's a lot of good there. With that said, he has to play better. He has to play more consistent."

And the Jets will consider their options this offseason, possibly even Peyton Manning if he becomes a free agent.

Coach Rex Ryan said Thursday he would consider bringing in a veteran free agent or perhaps drafting another quarterback, but he, too, has been supportive of Sanchez, who has come under increasing scrutiny inside and outside the organization.

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