SD Fleet Daily Update
The Fleet held a morning practice at 8:45 a.m. CT and a will have an evening walk-through at 7:45 p.m. at Heroes Stadium in San Antonio, Texas. The Fleet players have their first day off on Friday.
The Fleet announced a transaction today, as OL Joe Gore (Clemson) was signed. This move brings the Fleet's active roster up to 73 players. More information on Gore appears later in today's update.
The Fleet had 69 of the 73 players on the roster participate in today - with the exceptions DE Meffy Koloamatangi (knee), OT Gerrad Kough (illness), RB Bishop Sankey (knee) and OL Joe Gore, who is expected to practice this evening. WR Dontez Ford (hamstring) was a limited participant.
All four players signed yesterday made their AAF debut, including DE Damontre Moore (Texas A&M).
Offensive Coordinator Jon Kitna was mic'd up at practice by a film crew which is producing a video for the Alliance of American Football to offer fans an inside look at life in the inaugural training camp.
CB Tyree Holder (Ball State) was very active in coverage and came away with an interception in 11- on-11 drills.
WR Kameron Kelly (San Diego State) continues to impress at his new 'X' position and amaze the coaching staff with how quickly he is picking up the offensive. He was targeted regularly during seven- on-seven drills this morning.
LB A.J. Tarpley (Stanford) made several solid stops in the running game during 11-on-11 drills, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
WR LaQuvionte Gonzalez (Southeastern), nicknamed "Speedy," made a racing grab in tight coverage on a long corner route into the end zone during seven-on-seven drills.
QB Alex Ross (Coastal Carolina) showed tremendous touch on a long wheel completed down the right sideline to RB Paul James (Rutgers).
ICE, ICE BABY
Interesting fact of the day: During an 'A' day (two practices) at Fleet training camp, an estimated total of 4,000 pounds of ice is used. The training room staff goes through one load of ice from the Follett Ice Device System bin per practice and 65, 20-pound bags are used to fill up the four cold-bath tubs available to players after each session. Didn't G/F George Gervin play in San Antonio??!!
Wide receivers coach Az-zahir Hakim on converted receiver Kameron Kelly: "Kam is a unique individual. I think what he brings to the table is very special and we're lucky to have him, most definitely. We got him from the defense three days ago, and as soon as we inserted him, he was assertive; he knew what was going on; he understood the concepts; he understands where to line up.
Than can be a tremendous help to an offense like ours... He practices fast. I think he's a true pro." Wide receivers coach Az-zahir Hakim on the WR Kyle Lewis: "He's a special breed, as well. He's a guy that can play a few different positions. He's strong. He's powerful. He's a player that's going to help us out in many facets on this team. I think he's in the right position; I think he's at the right place."
Wide receivers coach Az-zahir Hakim on the differences for a wide receiver in the Martz offense: "It's unique. Being a receiver in this style of offense - I mean the communication has to be heavy. I think we have to work within each other, stay in the structure of the offense and take care of each other like we're all brothers. The more we do that, the cohesiveness will gradually rise and this group will get better and better and stronger and stronger every day."
DE Damontre Moore on getting back on the football after a few weeks off: "I feel good. It's like riding a bike - you never forget how to do it. Just being out there -- that bonding; comradery; that fellowship; and then just playing the game - it was pretty good."
DE Damontre Moore on his first impressions of the Fleet defense: "I'm seeing some good things. Some good defensive schemes, great coaches with a lot of experience and talent, and then we've got a lot of young, hungry guys that are just willing to work. I feel like out of all that, and the tenacity and the drive, we are going to do something really nice this year."
DE Damontre Moore on taking up the opportunity to play in the AAF: "I think it's a good experience. You can never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you should stop playing the game. So for a young guy, getting in there; getting that experience and the looks they wouldn't normally get during the season through an NFL career. For the older guys that are trying to reestablish themselves for whatever reason - if it's technique or other issues - I think it's a good stepping stone to rebuild their career and give people another outlet, opportunity, to play the game that they love and play it a higher level. Overall, it's a great experience and a great opportunity."
CB Tyree Holder (Ball State) on the spirit of the defense: "There are a lot of good players all around me - and it feels like we've been playing together for years. We've bonded. It feels like college. We have the same goal to achieve -- to win a championship; and the end destination to get to the league (NFL). That's the common denominator."
CB Tyree Holder (Ball State) on making some big plays today: "I'm trying to improve and get better every day - not getting complacent."
GOOD HUMOR LINE(S) OF THE DAY
General Manager Dave Boller to the three specialists (kicker, punter, long-snapper) watching positional drills from the sidelines: "You guys going to do anything today? Looks like you're going to get fat... just like me!"
Head Coach Mike Martz, trying to simulate pressure on kicker Cole Murphy during field goal drills: "They say you've got a big leg but aren't accurate, I don't know. Bought 20 tickets for your family and friends and they're all sitting in the front row. Tie game. Jim Nance and Tony Romo trying to find out who you are..." (For the record, Murphy nailed the kick.)
OL Joe Gore (Clemson) was signed by the Fleet on Thursday. The six-foot-five, 305-pounder was a key cog in a 2015 Clemson University team that advanced all the way to the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship (a 45-40 loss to University of Alabama). Having only made three career starts going into his final season, Gore - the most experienced Tigers' offensive lineman - turned in a campaign that earned him Third-Team All-ACC honors. In fact, the native of Lake Waccamaw, N.C., saved perhaps his best effort for nearly his last - when he registered the top performance by a Tiger with a 93 percent grade and four knockdown blocks in a 37-17 win over Oklahoma University in the Capital One Orange Bowl (College Football Playoff semifinal). After going undrafted, the lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan was immediately signed by the Washington Redskins. However, he was waived prior to the start of training camp.
The Fleet will enter practice tomorrow with 30 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 7 days before its joint practice with the Atlanta Legends on Jan. 17.
COACHES SPOTLIGHT - AZ-ZAHIR HAKIM, WIDE RECEIVERS COACH
Az-zahir Hakim begins his coaching career with the San Diego Fleet one decade after his professional playing days as a wide receiver. The Los Angeles native enjoyed a nine-year NFL career after being selected by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round (96th overall) of the 1998 draft out of San Diego State University. Hakim was a Super Bowl XXXIV Champion in 1999 with St. Louis, thriving in a system designed by Offensive Coordinator and current Fleet Head Coach Mike Martz. As just a second-year player, Hakim caught 36 passes for 677 yards and a career-high eight touchdowns. The next season, Hakim amassed career highs in receptions (53) and receiving yards (734) and led the NFC in punt return average (15.8) en route to a 2000 All-Pro selection. In addition to his time in St. Louis (1999-2001), Hakim played for the Detroit Lions (2002-04, 2006), New Orleans Saints (2005) and San Diego Chargers (2006). He finished his NFL career with 316 receptions, 4,191 receiving yards and 28 touchdowns along with 1,772 yards and three touchdowns as a punt returner. He was honored as a member of the St. Louis Rams 10th Anniversary Team. Hakim was a four-year letterman (1994- 97) at San Diego State, where he concluded his Aztecs career with 147 receptions for 2,622 yards and 21 touchdowns.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT - A.J. TARPLEY, LINEBACKER
LB A.J. Tarpley (Stanford) had a unique ending to his NFL career. On the final play of the Buffalo Bills' 2015 season (aside from one kneel-down), Tarpley intercepted a pass from QB Ryan Fitzgerald to seal a 22-17 home victory in Week 17 to knock the New York Jets out of playoff contention. It was also his last play - as the Plymouth, Minn., native announced in April 2016 that he was retiring from football at 23-years-old after just one season due to having suffered his third and fourth career concussions. Now, back on board with the Fleet, Tarpley is trying to get back to the NFL. His professional career started as an undrafted free agent signed by the Bills out of Stanford University, where he was a four-year starter and captain his senior season.
In 55 games as a Cardinal, Tarpley registered 307 tackles, seven sacks and four interceptions and was a 2014 All-Pac-12 Second-Team selection. In his rookie season with Buffalo, he appeared in 15 games (two starts) and recorded eight tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions (he had picked off Dallas' Kellen Moore in Week 16).
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