XFL Training camp is in full swing, and the New York Guardians are completing their first week of practice at Houston Baptist University. The Guardians are five Sundays away from the start of their season on February 9th at MetLife Stadium.
LOOMING WEEK ONE
The first week of Guardians’ practices in Houston saw the team’s offense struggle to get its footing early on. Coach Kevin Gilbride called his offensive practices sloppy and mistake-filled. One of the reasons for the rust may have been the teams’ break between minicamp and the start of training camp. The coaching staff made some changes to the offense before camp started, and it may have contributed to the slow start.
“Offensively, I think the players recognize that we need to get better.”
– New York Guardians Head Coach Kevin Gilbride
The Guardians’ offense has improved since its rocky start. Quarterback Matt McGloin and some of his star receivers like DeAngelo Yancey have stood out. Still, the early returns have Guardians Head Coach Kevin Gilbride expressing concerns to XFL.com about week one against the Tampa Bay Vipers.
“We’re doing some good things. As a coach, you’re never satisfied that it’s happening fast enough. That’s the problem. I just keep seeing this game looming in the fairly near future, and I know we gotta get a lot better than where we’re at.”
– Guardians head coach Kevin Gilbride on Week 1 preparation.
“Right now, we’re thinking three because of the need for bodies at other spots. Trying to get four guys in the rotation, nobody gets enough work”.
– Guardians Head Coach Kevin Gilbride, back in December on the possibility of New York adding a fourth Quarterback.
Back in December at Minicamp, in Waldwick, I asked Coach Gilbride if the team would look to add a new QB to the roster for training camp. The Guardians were open to the idea, but it wasn’t a preference. That was until former Princeton, and NFL Quarterback Charles Kanoff became available. The former Ivy League Offensive Player of the year has had three different stops on NFL team rosters. He was most recently on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad at the end of the NFL season.
“Chad” Kanoff has the prototypical size at 6’4 – 220 and was highly efficient in college. His 73.2 percent completion percentage was an Ivy League season record. Kanoff joins a crowded quarterback room with projected starter Matt McGloin, Marquise Williams, and Garrett Fugate. With the regular season drawing closer, the Guardians might have to make some tough roster decisions at this position. The team could elect to carry only two quarterbacks come roster cutdown day in late January.
TRANSACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
There’s a familiar saying that goes, “actions speak louder than words.”
In football, transactions speak louder than words.
The New York Guardians released Demarcus Ayers, WR, Houston, Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, WR, Phoenix CC, and Octayvius Miles, WR, Alabama A&M. In one fell swoop, they were replaced by Bernard Reedy, WR, Toledo, Austin Duke, WR, Charlotte, and Darius Prince, WR, Penn State (Beaver).
The Guardians’ early offensive struggles played a part in these moves. Demarcus Ayers and Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi figured to play prominent roles in the teams’ return game. Early on, it appeared that Ayers would be the Guardians slot receiver. The emergence of BYU’s Colby Pearson during training camp made Ayers expendable. Bernard Reedy was an All Mac player at WR, Kick and Punt Returner at Toledo. Austin Duke is Charlotte’s all-time leading receiver, and could end up competing for a slot receiver role on the team. Darius Prince is a superstar arena league receiver and a former Arena Bowl MVP.
The Guardians have made several other roster moves since training camp started.
Garrett Dooley, LB, Wisconsin (Waivers-BattleHawks), WR, Taivon Jacobs, Maryland, WR, Teo Redding, Bowling Green, Maea Teuhema, G, SE Louisiana (Waivers-Renegades), Jordan Agavisa, G, Utah, Charles Wright, DE, Vanderbilt,
Nydair Rouse, CB, West Chester, Curtis Akins, LB, Memphis
XFL RULES/SEASON PREPARATION
During the tail end of minicamp, the Guardians practiced some of the league’s new rules. The team got a jump on them early by running point after touchdown drills and other league concepts.
New York will have the expanded opportunity of testing the league rules against other teams. The Guardians’ first joint practice will be with the St. Louis BattleHawks.
On the 21st, the Guardians will have a full game scrimmage with the Tampa Bay Vipers at the end of training camp. As Kevin Gilbride revealed in December, the game will act as a dress rehearsal for the season opener.
“Unfortunately, I don’t like it, but we are going against the team we’re going to open with against Tampa. Our broadcast partners want to see so that they can do their best job on opening day. So they want to see the two teams playing against each other and get a feel for the flow of the game and the players. I would rather play anybody but the team we are going to open with.”
– Kevin Gilbride on the Guardians-Vipers scrimmage on 1/21
New York Guardians Safety Demetrious Cox was a guest on ‘Schwartz on Sports‘. Peter Schwartz asked Cox his feelings on the XFL rules. Cox told Schwartz that he liked the OT concept but joked that the defenses were getting the short end of the stick.
“They’re trying to have us play with one hand behind our back and one leg tied” “Fans don’t care about the defense” “They are making it harder on us than it already is.”
– Guardians Safety Demetrious Cox on how the XFL’s rules favor the offense.
On New York Sports Day, Cox also commented on the league’s 25-second play clock, and how getting the defensive plays right and in time will be a problem. One area that has not been a problem for the Guardians in training camp thus far has been it’s secondary. Cox boasted about how New York’s secondary recorded eight interceptions at it’s last practice. Two standouts in training camp thus far have been Lockdown Corner Jamar Summers, and versatile DB Terrence Alexander. LSU’s Ed Orgeron called Alexander, “one of the smartest players he has ever coached.” The Guardians’ defensive backs like Alexander are being cross-trained in camp by former NFL All-Pro Chris Dishman to play multiple positions. The XFL rules may favor offenses, but New York’s secondary looks like its ready for the challenge.