TAMPA BAY – Today the players strapped on the pads for the first time and the coaches wasted no time getting the players acclimated as the day kicked off with the highly anticipated Oklahoma drill. The drill is a great way for the players to knock the rust off and get the adrenaline going.
The drill squares up offensive and defensive players in a confined space where the only option is contact. There is no way to avoid it. The session, always highlighted with big hits, shows the coaches how tough a player is and his willingness to take on contact. Animated with excitement, even the offensive players want to take a turn on the defensive side of the ball, looking to lay down a big hit or knock off someone’s helmet as was the case today.
In the later session the coaches focused on situational drills, working on the mental preparation and increasing situational awareness. They ran the players through, pursuit, football protection and recovery drills as well as worked on formation adjustments. The coaches pushed the pace during the second session focusing on the quality of work rather than the quantity looking ahead to tomorrow’s inter-squad practice with Orlando.
Looking Forward: The team departs early tomorrow morning to head over to Orlando for an inter-squad practice with the Orlando Predators at the Citrus Bowl. Practice will begin at 9:30 and last until 12:30. Fans and media are welcome to attend.
Coaches Perspective: Talking about the Oklahoma drill director of player personnel Dave Wilson said, “All we are testing is to see how physical a guy can be. This brings the team together as they fight for the ball.”
Quote of the Day: “The Oklahoma drill separates the men from the kids,” said defensive back Erick McIntosh. “The defense really looks forward to the drill; it has a domino effect, even the offensive players come on over to our side of the ball to show they can hit as well.”
Player Spotlight: New wide receiver Chandler Williams, one of the smallest receivers in camp, listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, showed his grit today during the Oklahoma drill. After taking several reps running directly into the hear t of the defense, he drew praise from defensive coordinator Donnie Abraham “I was really impressed the toughness he exhibited today.”
Alumni Sighting: Former fullback/linebacker Tony Jones visited with the team today. Jones earned two ArenaBowl Championship rings with the Storm in three trips to the championship game. In observing the play of the defensive line he stated, “the guys out there in the defensive front four looked like determined young men. The key to the game is up front, you need to protect your quarterback and get after theirs.”