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SD Fleet Daily Update

January 8, 2019 - Alliance of American Football (AAF) - San Diego Fleet News Release

TODAY'S HEADLINES

- The Fleet had a single practice at 8:45 a.m. CT this morning with a weights session in the afternoon.

- Today was the first day AAF teams were allowed to practice in full pads. Several comments about practicing in full pads appear below.

- The 'chain gang' came out during 11-on-11 drills as the team worked for the first time on situational offense and defense.

- The Fleet had 72 of the 75 players on the roster participate in practice today - with the exceptions being OT Gerrad Kough, who still is awaiting medical clearance, WR Isaiah Burse (knee). WR Wayne Capers Jr. (foot).

HIGHLIGHTS

- In perhaps the first real surprise of training camp, FS Kameron Kelly (San Diego State) was switched from his defensive back position of safety (which he played his first three seasons with the Aztecs before moving to cornerback) to the offensive side of the football as the 'X' wide receiver. At one point during offensive drills, Head Coach Mike Martz complimented his route - saying "You've learned more in one day than some guys have learned over the first three days."

- The offense responded well today. QB Mike Bercovici (Arizona State) drew praise from Head Coach Mike Martz during seven-on-seven drills.

- Good luck trying to find shifty RB Ja'Quan Gardner (Humboldt State). Even if a defender can find the five-foot-seven back, his balance, strength and low center of gravity make it a difficult task to bring him down. The former Division-II national rushing leader again reeled off several impressive runs.

- LB Travis Feeney (Washington) flashed his speed and versatility during 11-on-11 drills, making several impressive stops defending in both the running and passing game.

- CBs Greg Ducre (Washington) and Jude Adjei'Barimah (Bowling Green) both had impressive pass break-ups in 11-on-11 drills. Ducre broke up a deep ball to the tight end in one-on-one coverage and Adjei'Barimah got his hands on an underneath route that would have resulted in a first down.

QUOTABLES

- QB Mike Bercovici (Arizona State) on the first practice in full pads: "I think it's fun. I mean, first day of pads is always a different energy. At this point, everyone is starting to get their legs back; starting to feel what it's like to play football. But I think it was just a great day offensively. I think guys are starting to learn the concepts and the offense that Coach Martz with expectations so high that we're only scratching the surface."

- QB Mike Bercovici (Arizona State) on grasping the new offense: "Fortunately, I've been in two different systems in the league, but this is kind of peeling back the onion and really understanding defenses just as much as you know the offense. It's extremely complex and expectations at the quarterback position are that you're going to go win a championship every single day. So every single day, it's just taking another inch. One little thing that Coach Martz says and implementing it into the next day."

- LB Travis Feeney (Washington) on the quality of talent in the AAF: "This is definitely everything you expected. You've got ex-vets, guys trying to get in who haven't ever gotten it. Guys who were on practice squads, guys who were just right there on the cusp and doing camp. Man, you got a lot of talent out here. You've got a lot of guys who you know are going to get back in and get another shot. It's just great to back out here; an opportunity to compete against some of the best."

- LB Travis Feeney (Washington) on if he enjoyed practice with first day in pads: "Oh yeah, man. For me especially, I've been out for a 'second' (a while). Just to get pads on again and get a helmet on again and just to getting out there again to get a hit - great."

- LB Travis Feeney (Washington) on how what he 'brings to the table': "Speed. Athletic. Size. Sideline to sideline. I can get out there in the pass rush a little bit. I can get out there in coverage and drop - drop and play the flats, play the tight ends, man them up. Speed guy. Love to hit; love to tackle, love to get after contact."

- LB Travis Feeney (Washington) on if being referred to as a 'Swiss Army Knife' is appropriate: "Swiss army, right? I've done it all from safety, to Will, to Sam to pass rush. The only thing I haven't done is Mike."

- RB Ja'Quan Gardner (Humboldt State) on being compared to smaller NFL backs Darren Sproles and Maurice Jones-Drew: "Those are two of the great running backs, from my eyes. I just try to go out and play my game. Of course, I used to watch them when I was younger, so I try to take a little bit of their game - with them being smaller backs like myself... I just want to go out and prove that I can play the game of football. At the end of the day, that's what it is about. I don't think size matters really. Certain positions, if you can play the game, then you can play the game. There's no denying that."

- RB Ja'Quan Gardner (Humboldt State) on the Fleet's offensive line: "They work real hard. They are one of the leading groups on this team. So we go as they go as an offense. They're doing a great job so far. We just follow behind their lead."

ï‚- OL Khaliel Rodgers (USC) on the first day in pads: "It was very physical. It got the guys going - moving around, making moves and plays. Man, I can't wait to get to San Diego."

GOOD HUMOR LINE(S) OF THE DAY

- Head Coach Mike Martz, who played his senior season at Fresno State, in addressing the team right after practice: "I'm going to give you guys a respite. Respite - that's a Fresno State word" as he surveyed the huddle in the direction of for Bulldog products LB Tobenna Okeke and TE Aaron Peck.

- DT Tani Tupou (Washington) on the sidelines during 11-on-11 drills: "I'm trying to get a headache. If you don't get a headache, then you didn't practice hard enough."

TRANSACTIONS

There were no transactions for the Fleet today.

COUNTDOWN(S)

- The Fleet will enter practice tomorrow with 32 days before the inaugural season kicks-off in San Antonio against the Commanders at the Alamodome on Feb. 9.

- The Fleet will enter practice tomorrow with 19 days before its dress rehearsal game (i.e preseason game) against the Atlanta Legends at the Alamodome on Jan. 27.

- The Fleet will enter practice tomorrow with 9 days before its joint practice with the Atlanta Legends on Jan. 17.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER SPOTLIGHT - JA'QUAN GARDNER, RUNNING BACK

RB Ja'Quan Gardner (Humboldt State) finished his collegiate career in 2017 as one of the best players in Humboldt State history - setting program records for rushing yards (5,495) and touchdowns (76) while averaging 6.2 yards per carry during his four-year stay. The five-foot-seven blazer complimented his legs with his hands, finishing with 81 receptions for 767 yards to put him at 6,262 total yards as a Lumberjack. He was also a unanimous First-Team All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference selection in each of his final three season after earning a Second-Team selection as a freshman. As a senior, Gardner earned his second GNAC Offensive Player of the Year award after rushing for 1,322 yards and 21 touchdowns. His first came as a sophomore, when he led the nation in rushing yards (2,266) and set a career high for rushing touchdowns (25). In the process, he was also an Associated Press All-American and a finalist for the 2016 Harlon Hill Trophy, which is awarded to the most valuable player in NCAA Division II. The 23-year-old went undrafted last year, but worked out for the San Francisco 49ers in May and was eventually signed in August (he thought it was a prank when he eventually got the call to sign). A native of Ceres, Calif., Gardner completed his high school career at Central Valley as the Stanislaus District's all-time leading rusher with 6,014 yards.

DEFENSIVE SPOTLIGHT - TRAVIS FEENEY, LINEBACKER

LB Travis Feeney (Washington) was nicknamed "The Freak" during his time at University of Washington (2012-15). Able to play multiple positions on defense, he is a tremendous athlete who ran a 4.5-second 40- yard dash at the NFL combine -- second-fastest among linebackers. The 26-year-old was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the sixth round (220th overall) in 2016 out of University of Washington, where he was selected Second-Team All-PAC-12 as a senior in 2015 after leading the team in both tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (7.0). Feeney was also named honorable mention All-Pac-12 and honorable mention Academic All-Pac-12 as a freshman in 2012. His playing time has been compromised over the years due to multiple shoulder injuries and a preseason concussion prior to his rookie season in the NFL. Later that fall, he was signed off the Steelers' practice squad by New Orleans and added to the Saints active roster. His versatility extends beyond the football field, as the native of Richmond, Calif., was drafted by the Oakland Athletics out of Pinole Valley High School in 2011.


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Alliance of American Football Stories from January 8, 2019


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