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Dragons must revamp roster

by Brian Belefski
February 4, 2002 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I)

The football food chain has taken a bite out of the talented New York Dragons. Aaron Garcia, who made a mockery out of opposing defenses, has been signed by the San Francisco 49ers. Garcia, who has AFL records for career touchdown passes with 415, touchdown passes in a season with 104, and touchdown passes in a game with 11, was signed by the Niners to compete for a backup spot to starter Jeff Garcia. This will be Aaron Garcia's first attempt at making an NFL roster after a brilliant six-year arena career that saw him excel as the predecessor to Kurt Warner.

The Sacramento native will play his first NFL preseason game against the Washington Redskins on August 3. The game will be held in Japan as part of the NFL's annual American Bowl. Garcia is known for his pinpoint accuracy and will likely be the oldest first-year NFL quarterback this upcoming season, at the age of 31.

Replacing Garcia in New York will be the athletic Danny Ragsdale, a former Division III player of the year at the University of Redlands. Ragsdale saw limited action behind Garcia last season, while throwing for two touchdowns. Another possibility for the Dragons is former University of Delaware starter Matt Nagy. Nagy threw 29 touchdowns in 2000 for the Blue Hens.

A trade for an established arena league passer is not out of the realm of possibilities. A couple of free agents, including Craig Kusick, Scott Semptiphelter, and Todd Hammel are still available. Another possibility is Charles Puleri, who has experience with John Gregory's system and was a part-time starter with the New York Hitmen in the XFL.

The Dragons also must replace Offensive Specialist Kevin Swayne. The New York Jets signed Swayne after stellar seasons with the XFL Orlando Rage and the Dragons. Teaming up with Garcia, Swayne led the league in all receiving categories. After impressing Jets coaches in training camp, he was made the third receiver and recorded 13 catches for 203 yards.

Veteran Steve "Superman" Papin is expected to add fire to the depleted Dragons arsenal. Papin brings in speed and a knack for making big plays. While with the San Jose SaberCats, Papin won the "Don't Blink" award in 1998 and '99. The award is designated to the player with an attitude for winning and making highlight reel plays.

Rookie Mike Furrey, who started for the XFL Las Vegas Outlaws, is also expected to catch on with the Dragons. Todd Doxzon is slated to be the starter at WR/DB, since the team recently placed nine-year veteran Leonard Conley on recallable waivers. Conley was the University of Miami's starting running back during their 1991 National Championship run.

One thing is for sure, and that is that the Dragons will have a lot of new faces when the 2002 AFL season kicks off.

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Arena Football League (1987-2008) Stories from February 4, 2002

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