A lot has been made of Manti Te'o's sub-par combine, where he ran a slower-than-expected 40 and couldn't participate in the bench press. Well, at least one player has an explanation for his performance -- Alabama lineman Barrett Jones, one of the guys helping the Crimson Tide en route to the National Championship back in January.
When asked about why he and other Alabama players had injuries at the combine -- Jones had surgery to deal with a Lisfranc injury in his foot shortly after the National Championship game that will take a few more months to heal -- Jones had a simple answer (emphasis ours):
People don’t realize it’s tougher for us to come here and compete in the combine. Because we play so late. We’re still not maybe as healthy as everybody else. When you play in the SEC, you get beat up, especially when you have a lot of bowl practices and you’re playing a game that’s not 'til Jan. 7. It’s tough to get back to full speed for this.
You're damn right: Alabama is so good, they have to play longer than everybody else and don't even get healed up in time. S-E-C!
That said, he might have a point. In addition to Jones, defensive lineman Jesse Williams can't participate in running drills with knee issues and disappointed in the bench press, running back Eddie Lacy can't participate with a tear around his hamstring, offensive tackle D.J. Fluker didn't do some jumping and shuttle drills due to groin and hamstring pain, guard Chance Warmack only did two drills, linebacker Nico Johnson didn't participate after having surgery on his sports hernia, defensive lineman Damion Square sat out with a knee injury and Quinton Dial with a toe injury.
Even cornerback Dee Milliner needs on a torn labrum in his right shoulder - although that didn't stop him from running an unofficial 4.31 40, as part of a combine Mocking the Draft's Dan Kadar said cements him as a top 10 pick. And although the National Championship was the last game of the season, most of the other bowls took place within the two weeks before it, so this argument wouldn't work if the combine was in, like mid-March. Maybe Manti Te'o really is the worst.