Jacksonvile Sharks DL Signs With CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers
ANDRE CAROLL HEADED TO WINNIPEG
02/16/2012 5:38 PM
JACKSONVILLE - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks announced Thursday that defensive lineman Andre Caroll has been placed on the Arena Football League's "Other League Exempt" list. Caroll is set to join the Canadian Football League's Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
This will be Caroll's second stint with Winnipeg, as the 23-year-old also spent time with the team prior to the 2011 season. Should he be activated from the exempt list, Caroll will remain assigned to the Sharks' 2012 roster.
A three-year-starter at Delaware State, Caroll (6’2”, 300) led the Hornets with 56 tackles as a junior in 2009. That season, he also led the team with 7.0 tackles for loss and ranked third with 2.5 sacks. As a senior, Caroll stepped his game up even further. Again leading the team in tackles (96) and tackles for loss (13.5), he finished second on the team with four sacks and also forced two fumbles, notched a pair of fumble recoveries and recorded an interception.
After his first stint with Winnipeg, Caroll signed with the National Football League's Cleveland Browns during training camp but did not appear in a game for the team. He is a native of Neptune, NJ.
02/17/2012 11:25 AM
CHICAGO – The Arena Football League announced today that the 2012 and 2013 AFL seasons will be available online for live and video on demand viewing through Ustream, the leader in live, interactive, and online streaming. The partnership, which is a two-year deal, will cover the majority of the AFL schedule for each of the 17 teams beginning with Opening Weekend on March 10.
“We are extremely excited about partnering with Ustream,” AFL Commissioner Jerry B. Kurz said. “This is the ‘Year of the Fan,’ and our fans have made it clear they want live, online coverage of our games. Ustream’s level of innovation and commitment to excellence in online broadcasting makes them the perfect partner for Arena Football.”
Fans will be able to access the broadcasts through ArenaFootball.com, Facebook, Ustream.tv, and on Ustream’s individual AFL team pages. In addition, viewers will also be able to visit Ustream’s AFL SuperChannel, a directory of the AFL and team channels, where viewers are able to navigate and select what coverage they want to watch of the 17 active channels in an interactive interface.
“It is an honor to partner with the AFL to distribute their live games and press conferences to a growing community of fans eager to engage with their sport,” Wayne Sieve, Vice President of Content Partnerships for Ustream said. “In a world of mobility, the consumption of live sporting events on a variety of platforms is something today’s sports fans expect. We are proud to partner with the AFL in distributing their games to fans online, through mobile or their smart TV’s.”
Each AFL team will have its own channel on Ustream for both live broadcasts, as well as archived games on demand. All team channels will be complete with real-time chat windows allowing fans to interact before, during, and after the live broadcasted games. The video player and chat modules are fully embeddable and can be distributed by other online publishers.
“This exposes AFL fans to a whole new way to view our games online,” AFL Vice President of Broadcasting, Communications and Branding Anthony Herron said. “The ability to interact with each other and share the video will only add to the most fan friendly sport.”
Fans will have the ability to download the Ustream for Mobile application, which will allow anyone with an iOS and Android device to watch the AFL season directly from the mobile app completely free of charge. The app enables fans to watch the team events in real-time and allow users to login through their Ustream, Facebook or Twitter accounts to participate in the chat room or Social Stream directly from their device. For up to the minute notifications of when teams go live, viewers are able to “Join Crowds” for any broadcasting team.
Ustream will provide free-for-view live access to all AFL regular season games, except for the weekly “Arena Football Friday” Game of the Week on NFL Network.
The 25th season of Arena Football kicks off Friday, March 9.
OPEN TRYOUT DRAWS STRONG TURNOUT For Jacksonville Sharks
OPEN TRYOUT DRAWS STRONG TURNOUT
02/18/2012 4:30 PM
JACKSONVILLE – The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks held an open player tryout on the Jacksonville University campus Saturday morning. This year’s tryout drew nearly 100 participants who competed for the opportunity to join the Sharks for the team’s upcoming training camp.
Players were split into positional groups and then timed in the 40-yard dash and 20-yard shuttle run. Following the running drills, participants worked on position-specific drills. These drills ranged from agility work and route running to one-on-one competition pitting offensive players against defensive players.
“I thought that everybody that came out competed hard,” Sharks Head Coach Les Moss said. “We had a great turnout and had some prospects. It was really a good tryout camp.”
In previous seasons, the Sharks have brought several players from open tryouts into training camp, including wide receiver/defensive back Brian Walker in 2011. Moss expects the trend to continue this year.
“We’ll bring in some guys that we thought looked good and let them work against our guys when we start training camp,” Moss added. “We’re always looking to improve.”
Any transactions regarding participants in this year’s tryout will be announced in the coming days.
There was only one division that boasted three teams with eleven wins or more in the 2011 season, and that was the American Conference’s South Division, which also housed the 2011 ArenaBowl Champion Jacksonville Sharks. Those three teams – the Sharks, Georgia Force and Orlando Predators – all have significant turnover in the upcoming season, opening the door for the Tampa Bay Storm and New Orleans Voodoo, who may have extra motivation with their home stadium hosting the ArenaBowl XXV. Top to bottom, the American East looks like a wide open race, with four teams primed to challenge Jacksonville for not only the division title, but the league title as well.
2011 Record: 11-7
Outlook: You will not find many 2011 Force players among the leaders in conventional offensive categories, but a closer look will show you how Georgia found ways to win last season – minimizing mistakes and converting their opportunities. Holding their opponents to a mere 43.7 third down conversion percentage the Force also had the highest opponent penalty average, with over 68 yards given up a game. One player who was a breakout star last season was wide receiver Maurice Purify, who won the league’s offensive rookie of the year award in impressive fashion. In16 games, Purify scored 46 touchdowns, ranking fourth in the AFL in scoring and eighth in receiving yards per game. With another year to improve the connection between Darnel Kennedy and the addition of former Milwaukee Mustangs quarterback RJ Archer, Purify could be ready to cement his place among the AFL’s top receivers.
Key Additions: DB Jamar Wall (Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans, Philadelphia Eagles, Texas Tech), QB RJ Archer (Milwaukee Mustangs) and OL John Gianninoto (Carolina Panthers, Milwaukee Mustangs)
Player to Watch: C.J. Johnson was one of the game’s leading ironmen last season, starring on both offense and special teams for Coach Dean Cokinos. Johnson finished the season second in all-purpose yardage and fourth in kick return average. Johnson also helped the team with five scores on returs, which tied for the league lead.
New Orleans Voodoo
Coach: Pat O’Hara
2011 Record: 3-15
Outlook: Near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories, the Voodoo needed to add a scoring jolt this offseason to be able to compete in such an explosion division. The Voodoo added the pieces, now the question is whether coach O’Hara can put it together in such a quick fashion. Former Tampa Bay Storm QB Brian Zbydniewski has been assigned to play in “The Graveyard,” and is set to compete with former Cleveland Gladiators Kurt Rocco for the starting job. The Voodoo defense also looks improved, adding former McNesse State football standout Ladarious Key, who spent the last two seasons in the Canadian Football League.
Player to Watch: With P.J. Berry gone to the Pittsburgh Power, a large void will have to be filled in both the offensive and special teams’ areas. Luckily the Voodoo signed seven year AFL veteran Josh Bush whose specialty is covering the same all-purpose role that P.J. Berry held up so well last season. Bush played with the division rival Orlando Predators last season, totaling a career high 2,008 all-purpose yards.
Coach: Brett Munsey
2011 Record: 11-7
Outlook: Defense will certainly be the calling card for the new-look Predators, who have changed in nearly all forms since 2011. New coach Brett Munsey is sure to bring a new sense of toughness to the group, and management has responded by giving him a litany of new, tough faces on the defensive side of the football. All-Arena DB Eddie Moten leaves the San Jose Sabercats to fill the same role in Orlando, teaming with Simeon Castille from the University of Alabama and former NFL first-round pick Ahmad Carroll. The predators also added DL Quinn Pitcock and former NFL linebacker Brandon Lang. With this side so improved, scoring on Orlando will be a daunting task.
Key Additions: WR Buddy Farnham (New England Patriots, Brown), WR Dwayne Eley Jr. (Milwaukee Mustangs, Stony Brook), OL/DL Anthony Carter (Colorado State)
Player to the Watch: Quarterbacks Colin Drafts and Trevor Harris have the hard task of replacing Nick Hill, who was signed by the Green Bay Packers earlier this season. With a new receiving core and not a stable signal caller, the new quarterback must not only match the high output of Hill’s arm, but also his leadership and confidence in the huddle. The team’s success will depend on it.
Tampa Bay Storm
Coach: Dave Ewert
2011 Record: 7-11
Outlook: Tampa Bay thought they had won the Nick Hill sweepstakes, until a team named the Green Bay Packers swooped in and stole their prized quarterback, sending the team into a frenzied search for a replacement. In a stunning trade, Stephen Wasil from Kansas City arrived in Tampa Bay, ready to lead the Storm back to the playoffs. Add that with former Texas Tech standout Richard Jones and the returning weapons from last season, including Amarri Jackson and the Storm look ready to wreak havoc again.
Key Additions: QB Trevor Vittatoe (Texas El-Paso), Mark Jones (Tennessee Titans, University of Tennessee), John-Kevin Dolce (Cleveland Gladiators).
Player to Watch: With the number one ranked passing defense in the league, it’s all about the quarterback. If Wasil can right the ship from a bad season, the Storm will find themselves in the hunt. Wasil was one of the leaders is passing efficiency last season, which is going to be crucial seeing that the Storm were a dead last in AFL turnover margin, with over -1 per game.
Coach: Less Moss
2011 Record: 14-4
Outlook: Jacksonville returned from the ArenaBowl with a championship, but without the largest piece in their impressive victory – Aaron Garcia. The future Hall of Famer left for San Antonio, leaving a large void in an offense that ranked near the league leaders in almost every category. To replace him the team will look to two quarterbacks – Omar Jacobs and former NCAA national champion Chris Leak – to see which one fits the mold to return to the playoffs. With a defense that was ranked dead last in the league in pass coverage, the quarterback position will be increasingly important in how the team performs.
Key Additions: WR John Chiles (St. Louis Rams, University of Texas), WR/DB Robert Sewall (Brown), DB Ross Weaver (Michigan State)
Player to Watch: Jeron Harvey was the hero of the last ArenaBowl with his game-winning catch as time expired, and will need to take a more central receiving role this season. Without a proven quarterback, you must think receivers will receive tighter coverage’s, with more pressure to create open space. If Harvey can blossom, it will greatly help the development of the new QB’s the Sharks will go with.
JACKSONVILLE - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks announced Wednesday that a key member of the team's championship-winning offensive line will return in 2012, as OL Vladimir Richard has been assigned to the 2012 roster.
This will be the 24-year-old Richard's second season with the Sharks. In 2011, he helped anchor an offensive line that allowed just 11 sacks during the regular season, the lowest total allowed by any team in the Arena Football League. He spent a brief period of time with the Spokane Shock in 2011. Richard signed with the National Football League's Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent in 2010, but did not appear in a game for the team.
Richard played college football at the University of Tennessee, where he spent the majority of his time at guard. He appeared in 36 games at the school, and was named to the VOLScholar Honor Roll as a junior in 2008. Richard is a native of Sunrise, Florida, and attended Piper High School.
In additional Wednesday roster moves, the Sharks placed K Marco Capozzoli, WR/DB Terrance Smith, WR John Chiles and WR Maurice Avery on the refused to report list.
Date of Birth: 05/03/1985
Height: 6' 0" Weight: 210 lbs
Pro Experience: Rookie
College Experience: Florida
Resides: Charlotte, NC (Independence HS)
AFL Notes: Assigned to the 2012 Jacksonville Sharks, September 28, 2011.
AFL Experience: 2012 Leak joins the Sharks for his rookie season in the Arena Football League.
Other Professional Experience: 2011 Signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders as a Canadian Football League free agent, May 5… Was later released, June 25. 2008 Tried out with the NFL Kansas City Chiefs… Also spent time with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger Cats before signing with the Montreal Alouettes, June 9… Stayed with the club until 2010… Was a member of Alouettes when they won the 2009 Grey Cup. 2007 Signed with the NFL Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent… Went to training camp with the Bears, appearing in the last game of the preseason, where he completed 11-of-16 passes for 88 yards, an interception and a TD… Released by the Bears, September 16… Drafted in the sixth round by Team Florida of the All American Football League… Never played a snap, as the AAFL’s first season was postponed until 2009 (and later canceled).
College: Played at the University of Florida from 2003-06… Leak took over as the Gators’ starting quarterback five weeks into his freshman campaign and never looked back. A four-year starter, Leak finished his Gator career with the most completions (895) and passing yards (11,213) in school history. His 88 TD passes put him in a second place tie with Gator Legend, Tim Tebow, for most TD passes in school history… He also ran for 13 TDs… Ranks third in UF history, with a career completion percentage of 61.4… Leak became the fourth player in school history to be named Freshman of the Year and was listed on the South Eastern Conference Academic Honor Roll each year he attended Florida… Was also a finalist for the Draddy Trophy, also known as the “Academic Heisman” for college football players… Saved one of his best performances for his last. After leading UF to the 2006 SEC Championship, Leak led the Gators to a 41-14 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game. Leak took home the offensive Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for connecting on 25-of-36 passes for over 200 yards and a TD.
Personal: Born May 3, 1985… Attended Independence (Charlotte N.C.) High School where he set national and state prep quarterback records during his four-year career… Coached by Tom Knotts, Leak was a four-year starter and three-year captain. He led Independence to three consecutive state championships (2000, 2001, 2002), earning the MVP award in each game… Also led Independence to 46 straight wins… Named Parade’s 2003 Player of the Year… Won the Ken Hall High School Player of the Year award as a senior… Named No. 1 player by The Sporting News, USA Today and Tom Lemming as a senior… Student Sports National High School Player of the Year… USA Today’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2002… Owned 16 state individual records at the end of his prep career including total offense, passing yards, attempts, completions and TD passes… MVP of the 2003 Army All-American Bowl and Offensive MVP of the North Carolina Shrine Bowl… Ranked as a 5-star prospect by Scout.com coming out of high school. Graduated from UF with honors with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and was a keynote speaker during the graduation ceremony.
Date of Birth: 03/03/1984
Height: 6' 4" Weight: 235 lbs
Pro Experience: 1
College Experience: Bowling Green State
Resides: Del Ray Beach, FL (Atlantic Community HS)
AFL Notes: Assigned to the 2012 Jacksonville Sharks, September 30, 2011… Is a one-year Arena Football League veteran (Jacksonville 2011)… AFL rookie season totals include: Seven GP, connecting on 18 of 24 pass attempts for 279 yards and seven TDs… Also had 12 rushing attempts for 17 yards and one TD during his rookie campaign.
AFL Experience: 2012 joins the Sharks for his second season in the Arena Football League. 2011 Assigned to the Jacksonville Sharks 2011 roster for his rookie season, October 19, 2010… Played in seven games as a rookie… Had his best day as a passer, Week 20 vs Spokane (7/22), where he connected on five out of seven pass attempts for 85 yards and four TDs.
Other Professional Experience: 2010 Played for the San Jose Wolves of the American Indoor Football Association (AIFA). 2008 Jacobs completed 208 of 362 pass attempts for over 3,000 yards and 56 TDs, as he lead the AIFA’s Florence Phantoms to their first ever AIFA Championship Bowl win… Was named the AIFA Championship Bowl II Most Valuable Player and also won the 2008 AIFA League MVP Award. 2007 Jacobs signed with the NFL Kansas City Chiefs and was allocated to NFL Europe with the Berlin Thunder. An injury forced him to miss the entire preseason and was then released. 2006 Drafted in the fifth-round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacobs was released after training camp and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad where he spent the 2006 NFL season.
College: Played at Bowling Green State University from 2003-05… Recruited by Urban Meyer, he saw limited action as a true freshman accounting for six TDs (four passing, two rushing). In 2004 he threw for over 4,000 yards with 41 TDs. He finished the season as the nations’ third best in pass completions (309) and passing yards (4,002). He also had the nations most touchdown passes and best touchdown-to-interception ration. He was named a preseason 2nd team All-American and a preseason candidate for the Maxwell, Walter Camp and Heisman trophies in 2005. He was a semi-finalist for the Davey O’Brien award in 2005, but his productivity was reduced due to an injury to his shoulder. Jacobs opted to forego his senior season to enter the 2006 NFL draft. He left as Bowling Green State’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns (71) and third all-time in passing yards (6,938). He still holds the sixth best passer rating in NCAA history (162.5).
Personal: Born March 3, 1984… Attended Atlantic Community (Del Ray, Fla.) High School where he led his team to Florida’s state semifinals, throwing for 300 yards and three TDs in a loss… Was also named the Palm Beach County Player of the Year and received second-team All-State honors.
CAREER HIGHS: Pass attempts: 7, done twice (most recently vs Spokane, 07/22/11); Completions: 5, done three times (most recently vs Spokane, 07/22/11); Completion percentage: 100.0, vs Tampa Bay (06/25/11); Yards: 85, vs Spokane (07/22/11); Passing touchdowns: 4, vs Spokane (07/22/11); Passer rating: 158.33, vs New Orleans (03/26/11)
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, FL - The Arena Bowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks opened 2012 training camp Thursday, holding its first practice of the season at Plantation Park in St. Johns County. For the Sharks, this is the first step towards defending their 2011 title.
For the opening practice, players were first divided into positional groupings for individual drills. Following that, receivers matched up with defensive backs for one-on-one and three-on-three drills, while the offensive and defensive lines squared off as well. After a 15-minute “halftime” break, the team spent the final hour of practice running plays as a full squad.
Defensive Backs in Focus
One thing the Sharks will need to address during training camp is the secondary. The loss of Micheaux Robinson, and his league-leading 46 pass break ups, leaves a hole in the defensive backfield. The Sharks are looking to returning veteran LaRoche Jackson, who led the team in tackles (119) in 2011, and a mix of new players to fill the void that Robinson leaves.
“I think Coach Moss and Coach Grande and the rest of the coaches did a good job of bringing in a good group of guys,” Jackson said. “It seems like everyone gets along well. No one thinks they’re better then anyone. We are helping each other out on and off the field. I’m looking forward to us being even better then last year to be honest with you.”
Returning to the Sharks’ secondary along with Jackson is JaVonte Holmes. Holmes played in seven games for the Sharks in 2011 as a rookie, totaling 17 tackles, and one interception he returned 28 yards for a touchdown. The two veterans will lead a group of three rookies in Stoney Woodson, T.J. Wright and Daylan Walker, who will be looked at to help strengthen the secondary.
The revamped secondary seemed to bring a lot of intensity from the first whistle of practice. The new players showed flashes, breaking up a number of pass attempts from quarterbacks, Omar Jacobs and Chris Leak. The energy that the secondary brought even sparked some good-spirited trash talking between the defensive backs and wide receivers.
“That will make us better,” Jackson said. “Being competitive with one another makes each other better. When it comes game time and other teams try to talk trash to you, we’ll still be able to stay focused because we’ve been doing it to each other all year and all day long in practice. It’s fun. We’re going to compete and we’re going to make each other better each and every day.”
It became obvious after day one that Jackson has stepped into a leadership role for not only the secondary but the entire defense.
“I like that we have some veteran guys helping each other out and some young guys that are hungry to compete,” Defensive Coordinator Jake Grande said. “That’s all I can ask for, just for them to come out and give it their all every play, every down.”
Whether it’s calling out assignments during drills, or helping the younger players on the sideline, Jackson said he wants to do whatever it takes to help the defense and the new players get acclimated.
“Like I told them when we first got here, if you ain’t here to win a championship, don’t be here and waste our time,” Jackson said. “I’m just doing what I can to help the next guy. I’m not going to try to be quiet about it just so nobody tries to take my job. I’m a team player.”
Who’s in at QB?
This season, much of the attention will focus on the quarterback position, as Chris Leak and Omar Jacobs vie for the starting spot vacated by the departure of Aaron Garcia. Jacobs returns to the Sharks after serving as Garcia’s backup in 2011, while Leak is new to the Arena Football League.
In the early going, each quarterback will work in with different receivers and get close to equal number of snaps. Jacobs believes that the competition will make both players better.
“It’s a great competition – two guys going in and battling,” Jacobs said. “I think, us two, learning off each other and figuring out things, trying to make this team the best as possible.”
Leak agreed with that sentiment, saying that he is focused on how both he and Jacobs can improve the team as the season approaches.
“My competition is not between guys on this team,” Leak said. “Our job as quarterbacks is to lead the team to a championship. Our competition is against the 18 games we’ve got to play this season, so that’s what we’re concentrating on.”
Coach Crafts’ Take
As is the case in the secondary and at receiver, the Sharks enter 2012 with plenty of new faces along the offensive line and in the backfield. For instance, Rustin Phillips and Rendrick Taylor are competing for the fullback job formerly held by Kirby Griffin. After practice, Assistant Coach Jerry Crafts spoke about where this unit stands as camp opens.
“It feels good, we had a good break and now we’re back to football,” Crafts said. We have a lot of new guys out here so we have a lot of work to do. We were fortunate last year to have a few veterans who knew what to expect, so we’ll need to gauge a little bit and see what we can get out of these guys.”
Crafts added that one key to success for any offensive line is repetition as a group.
“The more reps they can get together as a group the more they can jell together and be more of a unit,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to find out – where people fit into our system – and we’ll go from there.”
The Sharks made one transaction Thursday afternoon, as offensive lineman Vladimir Richard was placed on the physically unable to perform list. Richard was assigned to the Sharks’ 2012 roster on Wednesday.
The Sharks will get back to work on Friday morning, with another practice from 8:30 a.m. – noon at Plantation Park. Friday’s practice will also be open to the public.
ST JOHNS COUNTY, FL - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks continued its minicamp Friday, holding the team’s second no-contact practice in as many days.
As was the case during Thursday’s opening practice, the team first completed a series of positional drills. In particular, the defense spent an early portion of practice time working on fumble recoveries.
Following the individual session, the Sharks again worked as a full team for the final hour of practice. Head Coach Les Moss described Friday’s practice as “better” than the day before, but admits that there is plenty of work to be done.
“Well I want to see them learn from their mistakes from yesterday and learn from what we installed last night and apply them on the field,” Moss said. “We had a better practice today than we did yesterday, but we’re still a long way away from where we need to be when we start the season.
Quarterbacks Omar Jacobs and Chris Leak received an approximately equal number of repetitions, as Leak was up first in the team session, leading the Sharks up and down the field before handing the reins over to Jacobs. This structure varied from Thursday’s workout, in which the two quarterbacks rotated after a few plays.
Each quarterback worked with every one of the team’s wide receivers, looking to develop chemistry with a group of new faces. Of the six full-time receivers currently practicing with the team, Jeron Harvey is the only one familiar with Moss’ offense, as Oliver Young, Bobby Sewall, Sean Mackey, Trey Williams and Marquis Avery enter their first season with Jacksonville.
“You know, most of these guys are AFL rookies,” Moss said of the group at wideout. “They may have experience, but not a lot in the indoor game. Once they’re able to help the quarterbacks out we’ll be able to see where we are. I was impressed with with how they adjusted the depths of their routes and the things they learned off the film from yesterday in practice, so that’s encouraging.”
Harvey Takes on Leadership Role
Last seen making the winning catch as time expired in ArenaBowl XXIV, Jeron Harvey has a resume of proven success in the Arena Football League. To this point in camp, the 28-year-old Harvey has emerged as a leader on the Sharks’ offense.
Several times over the camp’s first two days, Harvey has remained near the Jacksonville huddle even when his group has rotated out. In doing so, he has tried to help the team’s young receiving corps get up to speed.
“We have a lot of rookies, essentially all rookies except for myself,” Harvey said. “I’m just trying to do what I do and let them see what I’m doing so they can follow. If they need help, they know they can just come and ask me whatever.”
One of those rookies is Bobby Sewall, the lone Ivy Leaguer on the Sharks’ training camp roster. The former Brown University star is enjoying his first look at the Arena Football League.
“It’s definitely exciting. It’s phenomenal just to be in day two, and I’m excited to get to day three, four and so forth,” Sewall said. “It’s great to be finally back out here, you know, working as a team and working towards a goal of winning something.”
In adjusting to arena football, Sewall has looked to Harvey to provide the wisdom that comes with experience in the AFL.
“He’s definitely taken the receivers under his wing,” Sewall said of Harvey. “He’s told us how to play the arena game – it’s still football but at the same time there’s a lot of different nuances in this game compared to the NFL game or the Canadian game. Jeron’s been great at getting me to where I need to be each day in order to produce and help this team win.”
Holman Works at Fullback
After fullback Rustin Phillips left practice early due to injury, Rendrick Taylor received nearly all of the reps at the position. However, Jason Holman gave Taylor a breather at times toward the end of practice. Decked out in the red jersey worn by primarily defensive players, Holman showed the versatility that made him a key member of the Sharks’ championship team in 2011.
Last season, Holman played every position along the offensive and defensive lines and served as an injury replacement at fullback. In October, Moss described Holman as a “true ironman” who was instrumental in securing his team’s ArenaBowl title.
The Sharks will wrap up minicamp with a Saturday morning practice that is closed to the public. The team will then conduct physicals with the Sharks’ medical staff on Sunday before strapping on the pads beginning Monday morning.
JACKSONVILLE – The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks concluded minicamp on Saturday morning with the team’s third practice in as many days. Saturday’s workout took place at Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club and was the first practice of the season to be held on natural grass.
This practice began with a prolonged offensive walkthrough, highlighting the importance of installing the entire playbook at this stage of camp. The walkthrough tended to focus on running plays and screen passes.
Following individual drills, the team portion of practiced focused on the “red zone,” as the ball was never spotted farther than 15 yards away from the goal line. As opposed to Friday’s practice, in which Chris Leak took the first turn at quarterback, Omar Jacobs led off Saturday’s team session. Both quarterbacks again worked with a varied group of wide receivers.
Throughout the spirited team session, players on both sides seemed eager to work with full pads. Count offensive lineman Josh Vernon among those looking forward to Monday’s full-contact practice.
The practice concluded with the Sharks’ first special teams work of the season, as the coaching staff covered both kickoff coverage and kickoff returns. The group of players to line up at kick returner included, among others, newcomers Sean Mackey, Trey Williams and T.J. Wright.
The Sharks were assigned two players on Saturday, WR/DB Bryan Evans and FB/LB Andres Morales. The 25-year-old Evans (5’10”, 180) is a Jacksonville native who played at Georgia, while the 23-year-old Morales(6’2”, 250) is a former Rutgers Scarlet Knight.
Both players participated in Saturday’s practice, as Evans worked at defensive back while Morales played fullback.
Secondary Coming Along
While every player on the team is competing for a roster spot and playing time, maybe the most intriguing position battle of camp thus far has been in the secondary. It appears that second-year veteran LaRoche Jackson will hold down one of the spots in the Sharks defensive backfield; however the remaining spots are open to a full competition.
The young secondary unit has shown flashes throughout the first two days of camp, and they continued to do so Saturday. The group combined for multiple pass break ups during team drills. However, the play of the day for the defense came in the form of an interception near the goal line by rookie T.J. Wright.
For a unit that has little Arena Football experience defensive coordinator Jake Grande is pleased at how fast the group is adapting to the indoor game.
“They’re adjusting well,” Grande said. “They’re picking up the little nuances of the game. It’s a lot different from the outdoor game. The ball comes out a lot quicker. They’re starting to realize that and they’re competing out here every day.”
One major difference between the Arena Football League and both college football and the NFL is that the offense may have one player in forward motion at the snap. This presents a new challenge for many of the Sharks’ young defenders. Throughout the first three days of practice, Grande has patiently helped his defensive backs refine their approach in dealing with that motion.
The secondary continued to bring a certain level of intensity to the practice field, something they have done since camp opened. Saturday marked the last practice before the team puts on pads for Monday’s practice. With the energy level already high, it is obvious the players are looking forward to hitting once the pads come on.
“Monday we put on the pads and that separates the men from the boys as they like to say in football,” Grande said. “We’ll see who’s real physical and who really wants to play once the pads are on.”
The Sharks did make one addition to the group of defensive backs Saturday. Former Georgia Bulldog Bryan Evans joined the Sharks training camp roster, adding one more person competing for a spot in the Sharks secondary. Evans in a Jacksonville native who most recently spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League.
“He’s a good player,” Grande said. “He’s been in the NFL and the UFL (United Football League) and we’re looking for him to come in and compete and see if he can earn a spot on this team.”
The Sharks will not practice on Sunday, which will be the first off day since camp began. Instead, the team will undergo physicals conducted by the Sharks’ medical staff in advance of full-contact work.
The team returns to Plantation Park in St. Johns County on Monday for the first of three consecutive days of full-pad practices. Monday’s practice is open to the public and will begin at 8:30 a.m.
Last edited by josereyessteal; 02-25-2012 at 07:46 PM.
JACKSONVILLE - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks announced Sunday that WR/DB Terrance Smith has been activated from the Arena Football League's "refused to report" list.
The 25-year-old Smith (6’2, 195) is set to begin his second season with the Sharks and in the AFL. He played in 16 games during the 2011 regular season, finishing tied for second on the team with six interceptions. Smith proved to be dangerous with the ball in his hands, returning two of those interceptions for touchdowns. The only Shark to record multiple “pick-sixes” in 2011, Smith returned a fumble for a touchdown as well.
Smith finished the year with 65.5 total tackles and 51 solo tackles, ranking third on the team in both categories. He added 16.5 tackles and tied for the team lead with seven pass breakups in the Sharks’ three playoff games.
Before coming to Jacksonville, Smith played wide receiver at South Carolina State, where he caught 40 passes for 542 yards and four touchdowns as a senior in 2009. He also spent time with the Green Bay Packers prior to the 2010 NFL season. Smith is a native of Aiken, SC.
In another Sunday transaction, the team announced that FB Rustin Phillips has been placed on the physically unable to perform list.
ST JOHNS COUNTY, FL - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks continued training camp on Monday morning, returning to practice at Plantation Park in St. Johns County.
Monday marked the first time the team wore shoulder pads this season, as the team had held helmet-only workouts for the first three days of camp.
Throughout the first three minicamp practices, defensive back LaRoche Jackson had been outspoken about how much he wanted to practice with pads on. Monday, he and the rest of the Sharks got that opportunity. Physical battles were won on both sides of the ball, and it was clear that putting the pads on raised the intensity level.
“Oh man, it’s great having these pads on,” Jackson said. “You know watching football all year long, college, NFL, every time I was watching a game I was like “dang, I can’t wait to get back on the field and put these pads on.”
After having Sunday off, Monday was the team’s first day back on the field in two days. Jackson said that the team used the break not only for rest but as a bonding opportunity for still new faces to mesh with returners.
“It was good for the rookies to get that extra studying in without having to go on the field,” Jackson said. “I was helping guys so when we come out here with the pads on we would be looking fresh, not looking lost out here.”
Coach Moss Seeing Improvement
Sharks head coach Les Moss said last week that he wanted his players to learn from the mistakes they were making during the early practices. The Sharks appear to be doing just that, as Monday’s practice, the first with pads on, was the sharpest practice to date.
The wide receivers, a group that at times had trouble with drops throughout minicamp, seemed to make the biggest improvement. With the rain, Monday morning would have been the practice when a few drops might be expected. But instead, the group had its best practice as a unit thus far.
“The younger guys are getting better every single day,” Moss said. “That group of receivers as a whole made the most improvement on depths, routes that I ever had. They really picked it up. They understand why we’re doing it. They understand the spacing we need in our routes to make things work and they really picked it up good.”
The improvement in the receiving corps might have had a lot to do with the addition of Terrance Smith to the unit. Smith returns to the Sharks after being activated from the Arena Football League’s “refuse to report” list.
Smith, who joined the team last year as a wide receiver, spent the year playing defense. Now with the new additions to the defense, Smith is making the move back to receiver. Smith made a number of plays throughout practice and seemed to feel right at home, back in his old position. Moss said it is nice to have an athlete with that kind of ability to play both positions.
“It’s good to get Terrance in here and get him rolling,” Moss said. “He looked good today. He stepped right in today and looked like he’d been there all year. Terrance is a heck of an athlete. He’ll be a very good addition to our offense.”
While the team is making strides, Moss was also quick to say that they were still a long ways away from where they need to be. In addition to having the receivers continue to improve, Moss said he wants the offensive line to protect the quarterbacks better.
The team has most of the playbook installed by this point. Now it is all about fine-tuning what they’ve put in. Moss will get his first chance to evaluate the Sharks against another opponent on Saturday when they host the New Orleans VooDoo. The preseason benefit scrimmage will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Sea Best Field inside the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
“We’ve got a long way to go and we know that,” Moss said. “We just need to keep working – Keep competing, keep working hard – And get better every day. That’s all you can ask.”
The Sharks made a pair of additions following Monday’s practice. The team announced that DB Bill Alford and LB Buster Davis have been assigned to the 2012 roster.
The 30-year-old Alford (5’9”, 190) returns for his third season with the Sharks. When he was last at Sea Best Field, Alford made a key interception to seal Jacksonville’s win over the Georgia Force in the 2011 American Conference Championship game.
Davis, 28, played collegiate football at Florida State and was selected by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Davis (5'9", 270) made his NFL debut later that year with the Detroit Lions, recording 24 tackles. After practice squad stints with the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans, Davis most recently played for the United Football League’s Hartford Colonials.
In other roster moves, K Marco Capozzoli has been activated from the Arena Football League’s “refused to report” list, while DL Rashaad Duncan was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Spotlight on Summers
Last season, the Sharks’ defense recorded 36 sacks, the second-highest total in the league behind only Tampa Bay. Defensive lineman Derrick Summers was a huge component of that pass rush as he finished fourth in the league in total sacks with 11. Despite putting up big numbers last year, Derrick has his focus centered on the upcoming season.
"Everyone knows from last year that we were a pretty good defense. Everyone is preparing their offense to get ready for us,” Summers said. So I feel that this year, expectations are going to be even higher. But the new guys coming in are picking it up really quick, so this year I think we'll be pretty good."
Summers’ unique pass rush ability has prompted the Sharks coaches to not only play him as a defensive lineman but linebacker as well, something that Summers was comfortable doing last season. "The Mac linebacker and the defensive end are both pass rushers, so there's really no adjustment to me. Since I played both last year, this year it's been pretty easy for me," he replied.
With today being the first day of training camp with pads, many players on defense looked eager to create some big hits.
Summers took mention of the heightened aggression in camp, noting "I saw a lot of physicality today. Offense looked good, defense looked good. We keep getting better each and every practice."
The Sharks take to the practice field again Tuesday with another full-contact workout at Plantation Park. Practice is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. and will be open to the public.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, FL - The ArenaBowl XXIV Champion Jacksonville Sharks continued training camp on Tuesday morning, holding the team’s second full-contact practice in as many days at Plantation Park in St. Johns County.
Unlike in Monday’s rain-soaked workout, the overcast skies stayed dry on Tuesday. The heightened intensity from Monday’s padded practice spilled over, particularly in the one-on-one and team portions of practice.
Jacksonville’s wide receivers seemed to have a strong showing on Tuesday, as rookie Oliver Young tipped the ball to himself to make a highlight-reel catch down the sideline and each of his fellow position-mates made plays in the open field.
Sharks veterans continue to work to get newer players up to speed. One of those new players is former Georgia Bulldog Bryan Evans, recently assigned to the 2012 roster.
“The practices are cool, it’s a real family oriented team.” Evans said. “I like the atmosphere. Everyone has been trying to teach me as long as I’ve been here, so it’s been pretty cool so far.”
Capozzoli Takes the Field
After kicking a clutch 36-yard field goal that helped the Sharks clinch the American Conference Championship last season, Marco Capozzoli returns for his second season as Jacksonville’s kicker. Capozzoli participated in his first practice of the season on Tuesday.
Though he had not officially hit the practice field since ArenaBowl XXIV, Capozzoli worked throughout the offseason to refine his game.
“I’ve been training ever since the ArenaBowl,” he said. “I took a week off and then I’ve been back at it. [LaRoche Jackson] and I had been at the field, we practiced at [Jacksonville University] every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, just practicing our holds and snaps, and just kept doing our thing.”
Two recent additions to the Jacksonville Sharks’ roster are defensive back Bryan Evans and linebacker Buster Davis. A Jacksonville native who attended Edward H. White High School, Evans returns home after spending time with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010.
A safety at the University of Georgia, Evans is in the midst of a transition to corner this season.
“The motion has been something that has been throwing me off, but it’s something you can work on out here,” he said. “It’s just something you have to adapt to. It’s not brand new to me, it’s just certain techniques you have to do differently. I’m starting to get those down as we progress.”
Like Evans, Davis hopes to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball this season. The former Florida State Seminole hails from Daytona Beach and now coaches at Duval Charter High School. He said that the team’s proximity to home definitely factored in his joining the sharks.
“It was very convenient for me,” Davis said. “Coach Moss is a very good guy. He knew my agent, so he asked me to come out and see what I thought and I like it. It’s a good situation.”
Davis hopes to use his work in the AFL to make a positive impression on the young athletes he currently coaches.
“I think also I give my players something to look at, to show them this is how you play football. It’s one thing to tell, but you doing it as well is going to give them a lot of confidence and understand exactly what I mean by ‘I want to play football all day long.’”
Following Tuesday’s practice, the Sharks announced that DL Aaron Robbins has been assigned to the 2012 roster. The 28-year-old Robbins (6’3”, 265) will begin his second season with the Sharks. Robbins appeared in seven games during the 2011 regular season, recording 15 tackles (nine solo), 2.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Robbins also recovered two fumbles.
Robbins has been a member of two consecutive ArenaBowl-winning teams, notching four sacks and five forced fumbles as a member of the Spokane Shock in 2010. A native of Aurora, Colorado, Robbins played at the University of Wyoming.
In another transaction, the Sharks announced that WR Marquis Avery has been placed on the physically unable to perform list.
The Sharks continue their preparation for this Saturday's preseason game with another practice on Wednesday morning at Plantation Park. As has been the case over the last two days, it will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will be open to the public.