Xplorers make moves, welcome back familiar faces
SOUTHAVEN --- With the Memphis Xplorers having started week two of their 2006 training camp, the team announced several roster moves Monday.
The league office assigned the Xplorers three players from last year's ArenaCup team; QB Brian Jones, WR/DB Deon Giddens and WR/DB Scott Cunningham. The team was also assigned WR/DB Daryon Brutley. Along with the assignments, QB Josh Blankenship has been traded to the expansion Stockton Lightning, WR/DB Steven Rush has been traded to Oklahoma City and WR/DB Darrell Dowery and WR/DB William Mason have been reassigned. The Xplorers also placed FB/LB Karon Key on long-term IR and announced that OL/DL Nicholas "Trip" Delcampo has left the team.
Jones (6-2, 200, Toledo) will be entering his third season with the Xplorers after helping to lead the team to the title last season. Jones signed with Las Vegas of the AFL during the off-season , but did not make the Gladiators' final roster.
Last season, Jones set the franchise's single-season marks for passing touchdowns (69) and rushing touchdowns (23). To go with his league-leading passer rating of 123.11, he completed 245 of his 388 attempts for 3,384 yards, 69 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. On the ground, Jones was the team's leading rusher with 229 yards.
Giddens (5-10, 186, Tennessee State) is entering his second season in af2. During last season's rookie campaign with Memphis, Giddens played in all 16 regular season games, finished third on the team in rushing yards with 28 on 7 carries, had 12 receptions for 151 yards and 1 touchdown receiving. His 12.6 yards per catch average was 4th on the team. Defensively, Giddens was tied for third on the team with 5 interceptions, was second in solo tackles (44) and total tackles (52.5). He also had 16 pass break ups, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and a forced fumble.
Giddens was signed by the AFL Nashville Kats following the 2005 season, but was waived before the 2006 season.
Cunningham (5-10, 180, Tennessee State) had a training camp try-out with the New York Dragons back in January, but wasn't able to crack their season opening roster. During his rookie season with the Xplorers in 2005, Cunningham played in all 16 regular season games. Offensively, he caught five passes for 56 yards and no touchdowns. Defensively, he was second on the team with seven interceptions and third in total tackles with 46.5.
Jones, Giddens and Cunningham join WR/DB Terrance Quattlebaum, OL/DL Phillip Perry, OL/ DL Joseph Crear, K Steven Azar, and OL/DL Kenyun Glover as returning players from the 2005 team in camp.
Daryon Brutley (6-0, 192, Northern Iowa) most recently played for the Carolina Cobras of the AFL in 2004. He originally signed with the Buffalo Bills of the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2002, played with the Berlin Thunder of NFL-Europe in 2003 and was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles prior to the 2003 NFL season. He made the Eagles' practice squad out of training camp and appeared in one game in 2003.
In the trade with Stockton, the Xplorers received FB/LB Chris Peavy for QB Blankenship. The return of Jones made the former Tulsa Talon Blankenship expendable. Peavy is a rookie out of Division II Shaw University in Raleigh, NC where he was a standout linebacker, an All-American and one of 26 finalists for the Division II College Football Player of the Year Award in 2004.
The Xplorers received future considerations from Oklahoma City in the Rush trade.
The Xplorers continue with training camp this week at the Pyramid in Memphis. After a week of two-a-days, Head Coach Danton Barto and his staff will be conducting practices from 5:30-7 each night this week at the Pyramid. All practices are open to the public at no charge.
The Memphis Xplorers...2005 ArenaCup Champions
The Xplorers will defend their Arena Cup Championship in 2006 and you can be in on the action. The season begins on April 1 at Tennessee Valley with the home opener on April 8 versus the Florida Firecats.
Season Tickets are available now and begin as low as $64. Don't miss all the action of the "50-Yard Indoor War." For season ticket information call the Xplorers office at 662-342-1755.
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