Football is the most unselfish team sport that exists, period. The success of key players is always predicated on the dedication, hard work and play execution of eleven players on either side of the ball. The Houston Roughnecks have a loaded roster of players with college, NFL, CFL and AAF experience as do the other teams in the re-booted XFL. The Roughnecks are loaded with football talent that should make them an immediate contender this season. However, certain players stand out as key impact performers:
Both PJ Walker and Connor Cook will be battling it out to be the starting quarterback on Opening Day. Both players bring loads of talent, achievement and on-field success to the Roughnecks with both Walker and Cook being prolific college QB’s and Cook having NFL experience with the Oakland Raiders. The reality is only one player can be named the starter and that will be up to head coach June Jones at the end of training camp. The second reality is in this day and age in football every team must have a strong backup QB who can at a moment’s notice not only fill in this position but successfully lead a team. All you have to do is look at some of the NFL teams this past season to realize how critical a valuable backup QB is to the longevity of a team. Regardless of who the Roughnecks choose as their starting play caller come the end of training camp, this team needs a viable backup who is ready to go and between Walker and Cook this shouldn’t be an issue this season.
The Roughnecks have the versatile Nick Holley who can play multiple positions on offense (and be a backup QB in a tight spot as well) along with Marquez Williams and Akrum Wadley. Again, experience and talent will help the Roughnecks backfield in the “run and shoot” offense favored by Coach Jones along with variations of this scheme. Andre Williams may also factor into the RB equation.
This is where the Roughnecks have so much experience and depth at and this talent pool should pay dividends quickly for a fast paced offense favored by the Roughnecks. Kahlil Lewis, Sammie Coates, Blake Jordan, Jalen Saunders, Cam Phillips and Ryheem Malone all stand out as potential play makers for Coach Jones and for Sammie Coates this has to be a bit of a homecoming after playing for the Houston Texans and returning to play for the Roughnecks.
Ryan Anderson is fully capable of anchoring the O line at Center with Gerhard de Beer, Kelvin Palmer and Tayo Fabuluje with Avery Jordan stepping in to provide both run and pass protection.
Trenton Thompson, Corey Crawford, Kony Ealy and Gabe Wright immediately jump out as effective pass and run rushers and will no doubt help solidify the D line this season.
La Troy Lewis and Edmond Robinson both bring NFL experience to the LB corps and should help anchor this defensive unit.
Robert Nelson, Saivion Smith and Ajene Harris look to help bolster the secondary and should quickly have an impact in helping shut down other XFL pass offenses.
These are predictions of how the Roughnecks will start their respective offensive and defensive units. Football is a fluid game and starters can get hurt, backups can outwork starters and win playing time and other players may move positions or be asked by the coaching staff to step up and fulfill unconventional roles. The one thing that seems certain at the beginning of training camp is that the Roughnecks have a strong roster to make an impact on this inaugural XFL season and as the old football saying goes “next man up!”
Mike Gambill has joined XFLBoard.com as a reporter for the Houston Roughnecks.