The Tampa Bay Storm concluded the first day of practice in pads and it was a sight to be seen. With the 2015 season not ending the way it planned, the Storm had a bitter taste in its mouth knowing there was still unfinished business.
“We were anxious to get out there and let out some aggression,” said defensive lineman Rony Barrow. “We haven’t hit anyone in six months and with the way last season ended, we knew we had to come out aggressive.”
The aggressiveness was on full display, with several players knocking each other around. For some, it was a day to get the jitters out after not feeling contact in few months.
“I haven’t been hit in six months,” said wide receiver Emery Sammons. “It was a wake-up call that we are now live and ready to go. It actually felt great to make some contact. We’ve all gotten the jitters out and we’re ready for full go.”
One player that knows a thing or two about making contact is defensive back Cameron McGlenn. McGlenn has recorded 407.0 total tackles for his career to go along with nine tackles for loss.
“It felt great getting out there with these pads,” said McGlenn. “This is a contact sport and it’s been a long offseason for these guys. We’re taking this opportunity to learn from each other and work together as a team.”
Some of the players are taking this opportunity to learn from each other. With some players coming from the PIFL, the opportunity to play in the AFL is a great experience.
“It’s a blessing to come out here and play for the Storm,” said defensive lineman David Washington. “I came to the team late in the season last year so I am using this training camp to bond with the vets and learn. We’re building a brotherhood out there on the field and just three days in, that bond is beginning to show.”
Coaches’ Perspective: “It was the first day of pads and the guys were competing,” said assistant head coach Dean Cokinos. “The group is putting in the time and effort, and I like how they are working together to get better.”
Quote of the Day: “We have a great group of guys returning this season. Couple that with the players we brought in and I believe the team has built something really special. Everyone has bought into the system and we’ve built a band of brothers.” – Storm kicker Craig Peterson.
Player Spotlight: The Storm had one of the best rookie classes of the 2015 season, with several players finding themselves at the top of multiple statistical categories. One of those players was defensive lineman Everett Dawkins. The former Seminole was the leader of the “No Run Zone” for the Storm defense. He led the team with 10.0 tackles for loss, good enough for a top-10 ranking at the end of the season. Dawkins seems to be picking up where he left off and is already starting to generate pressure in camp. Look for his game to continue to improve this season, as he continues to learn and get better with every passing day.