After a much needed day off, the Storm took the practice field out at Skyway Park for day seven of training camp.
“We had a good practice today,” said head coach Lawrence Samuels. “The guys had fresh legs and were ready to come out and work today.”
The offense and defense worked on their timing, something that is crucial in the game of football. If the players are not in sync, it could lead to mistakes and bad plays. Miscommunication could lead to penalties and turnovers; two things the Storm wanted to improve on heading into the 2015 season.
“Timing is everything in this game,” said center Raymond McNeil. “The field is smaller and the game is faster. On the offensive end we need to get our timing down. You could have three quarters of perfect timing, but if you’re out of rhythm in the fourth, three bad plays could make the difference between a win and a loss.”
On the defensive side of the ball, all defenders worked on their communication. Relaying plays and telling each other what to look for as the play was unfolding. Communication is another key to success as the defense needs to be one unit, sharing the same mindset.
“Communication is extremely important,” said defensive back Al Phillips. “If we’re not on the same page, the whole coverage is blown. With everyone communicating on the same page, we can just go out there, play ball and know what to expect.”
These sentiments were echoed by fellow defensive back Rick-J Hill.
“Communicating is a big part of our defense. Without communication we’ll have a blown coverage and it’s over.”
Some players were also on edge because of the first round of roster cuts that is looming this afternoon. The younger guys will rely on the vets for advice on how to handle cut day.
“I tell everyone to keep grinding,” said Phillips. “Cuts are going to happen regardless and you have to go out there and do your job and keep working.”
“In life, sometimes you get knocked down but you just have to get back up,” said Hill. “You have to keep at it. Take me. I was cut last year, but I’m back at it and I’m going to make the best out of it.”
Coach’s Perspective: “We got better today,” said Samuels. “Every day we get better and the players are looking to improve in order to make this team better.”
Quote of the Day: On cut day and advice he gives to the younger players, center Raymond McNeil said, “I tell them to keep pushing. Back in 2007, before I got my foot in the door, I got cut twice. You have to keep pushing toward your ultimate goal.”
Training Camp Venue: The Storm will continue practicing at Skyway Park for the remainder of training camp. All practices run from 8:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Media availability begins at 11:30 a.m.
Player Spotlight: In today’s player spotlight is defensive lineman, Everett Dawkins. The Spartburg, SC native enters his rookie season in the Arena Football League with the Tampa Bay Storm. Dawkins began his professional career when he was drafted in the seventh round (229th pick) of the 2013 National Football League Entry Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He also spent time with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The former Seminole played four seasons at Florida State University, starting in 41-of-57 games. His outstanding play in his senior season earned him second team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors. During today’s practice Dawkins impressed the coaching staff with his agility and his ability to get to the quarterback in team drills.