TAMPA BAY – With only one practice session today, both the coaches and the players wanted to make sure they put in a quality work day. The focus of the day for the coaching staff was situational mechanics and fundamentals.
The practice session began with a prolonged special teams period covering not only assignments and lane integrity, but various techniques used to maximize leverage. From there the team focused on individual position drills with an emphasis on footwork, leverage and technique in a variety of game-like situations.
“You need to make sure you are ready heading into the season,” said Storm head coach Dave Ewart. “We don’t have OTA’s (offseason training activities), so you want to make sure guys are sound in their fundamentals and provide them with a variety of techniques to utilize in a variety of game-like situations.”
The latter part of the practice session focused on special plays, plays that are utilized in specific down and distance situations. During this session several of the big guys had the opportunity to get their hands on the ball. This brought on cheers and high fives from the skill position players after many successful plays. “It is fun to watch them make plays,” stated wide receiver Michael Lindsey. “They don’t have many opportunities to touch the ball and when they make a play it always brings up the atmosphere at practice.”
After practiced ended the players stayed on the field to get extra work; the wide receivers and defensive backs headed over to the Jugs machine, while the offensive and defensive lineman ran sprints on their own. “The Jugs system helps to increase an individual’s ball skills,” said wide receiver coach Lawrence Samuels. “The guys get to work on their hand-eye coordination with out over working the quarterbacks and it allows me to work with the players on hand placement when receiving a ball.”
Change in Schedule: Sundays practice has been moved from the 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM time slot. The morning session will now take place from 6:30 AM to 8:30 AM. There will not be a second session; the team will participate in a body maintenance period instead.
Coaches Perspective: With the scrimmage against Orlando looming on Monday evening at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the coaches spent today’s practice reminding the players what is at stake. Currently there are 35 players in camp and the staff must get those numbers down to 24 by 5:00 PM on Friday, March 2. “Monday night is a big night from an evaluation perspective,” said Ewart. “This is not like an inter-squad practice, this is as close to a regular season game setting as you can get.”
Player Spotlight: Offensive lineman Julius Wilson may be new to the Storm, but he brings plenty of experience with him. He spent the past two AFL seasons with the Orlando Predators while also playing in the United Football League with the Florida Tuskers and Omaha Nighthawks. Prior to that, he spent time with the in the National Football League with the Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When Wilson is not on the gridiron, he works with disadvantaged youths, from the ages of nine to 17, at Manatee Palms group home.