Lott fires up running backs in bench press

Cardinals strength and conditioning coach John Lott speaks to the running back prospects before Saturday's bench-press workout. (Ben Liebenberg / NFL.com)

INDIANAPOLIS — If you’re looking for a motivational speaker, let me recommend Cardinals strength and conditioning coach John Lott.

Having witnessed another of his pre-bench motivational speeches before the running backs lifted at the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday, I was ready to run through a brick wall. Thankfully, none were near.

Lott told the group of 28 backs moments before they went out — and I’m paraphrasing — that it would be very advantageous to look him in the eyes because they were about to have their first opportunity in front of NFL evaluators.

Lott’s attitude is infectious, and he willed two or three more repetitions out of Toby Gerhart, who finished with 22. Lott did the same for Ole Miss’ Dexter McCluster — easily the smallest back here at 172 pounds — who was completely fired up and got the other prospects going with an impressive 20 reps.

Overall in the running backs group — which included two fullbacks — the top five were led by Lonyae Miller and Ben Tate with 26 each, followed by John Conner (24), Gerhart and Keith Toston (22).

Looking at the top three backs on NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s rankings, C.J. Spiller (18), Ryan Matthews (19) and Jahvid Best (18) did nothing to hurt themselves.

— Frank Tadych

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