Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander is arriving at the NFL Scouting Combine two days early on Monday, but it won't be to scout prospective big men. He'll be sitting down with the NFL Competition Committee in Indianapolis, where he's been asked to offer a line coach's perspective on two of the biggest rules issues in the game:
The chop block and holding.
This is Alexander's 19th combine as the club's line coach, so he knows how rare the opportunity is for a line coach to be asked to sit down with the heavy-hitting lineup of head coaches and club execs. But he'll know at least one of the guys since Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is a member.
"It's really an honor and a great responsibility to represent my fellow line coaches and offensive linemen well," Alexander said this week. "We'll see how it goes. We'll offer our opinion."
As far as Alexander knows, the only other position coach in the meeting is Texans defensive line coach Bill Kollar, another Bengal. He was the club's first-round pick in 1974 out of Montana State. The competition committee is in the process of studying proposals for rules changes and player safety issues that are going to be voted on at next month's league meeting in Arizona.
Alexander is hesitant to talk much about the chop block before Monday's meeting to discuss its viability as a legal play. But it's pretty clear where he and his brethren stand on their linemen's ability to take out a blocker below the knee with a clean hit.
"Its part of the competitive balance between a blocker and a defender," Alexander said. "It's the only way we can really keep them honest."
Offensive linemen, kickers and punters arrive Wednesday at the combine, but don't take the field until Saturday. The combine can be seen on NFL Network on Saturday, Feb. 23 through Tuesday, Feb. 26 beginning at 9 a.m. each day.