TAMPA BAY – Arena football is a game that is entirely different than its outdoor counterpart. The field is smaller. There are nets in the end zone. And the game is played indoors. For some, it’s like playing an entirely different sport even though in the end, it’s still football.
“The outdoor game is way different than playing indoors,” said defensive lineman OJ Mau. “Everything is just quicker. The balls come out so fast, that we need to be able to make our moves quickly.”
In a game built for high scoring offenses, it’s imperative that the defensive lineman be ready to make a quick maneuver. Typically, a ball is released within one to two seconds. Those one to two seconds could me the difference between a sack and a completed pass.
However, it’s not just the defensive line that needs to stay on its toes. The offensive line needs to be just as fast to face a pass rush that is always coming downhill.
“We have to adjust some of the techniques that we have in the outdoor game,” said offensive lineman Jeremiah Warren. “With a quick three-step drive, everything is right now. We need to be able to hold in quickly and be prepared.”
Learning how to play the indoor game can be quite the task. However, with a good group of veterans leading the way, it helps to decrease the learning curve.
“When I first got here I felt rusty and lost,” said Mau. “But I went back and studied the film and watched everybody. The veterans like Dex (Jackson) and Jordan (Miller) really helped me out.”
And even though he’s a rookie, Warren is still a veteran to the game of football. He uses this opportunity to teach some of the younger guys about what to expect in training camps.
“This is my first year in the arena league, but I try to bring the guys along,” said Warren. “I tell them to keep working and focus on one thing then move to another. I know how it was for me coming into camp, so I just tell them to keep their heads up and keep working.”
Player Spotlight: Today, the spotlight is put on mac linebacker Dexter Jackson. The six-year veteran rejoined the team this past offseason after spending 2016 with the Jacksonville Sharks. Known for his aggression on the field, Jackson has made a name for himself as one of the best mac linebackers in the League. Last season, he earned his first All-Arena selection after recording 24.0 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup.
After just a few days of training camp, it doesn’t seem as though Jackson has lost a step. He’s still aggressive and disrupting plays, something the Storm will need him to do once the season starts.