Around the XFL – Saturday, March 18

Arlington head coach Bob Stoops on the sidelines at Arlington at St. Louis game, Sunday March 12, 2023.
Arlington head coach Bob Stoops on the sidelines at Arlington at St. Louis game, Sunday March 12, 2023. (ESPN2)

Arlington Renegades

In a conference call with media on Wednesday, Renegades Head Coach Bob Stoops mentioned that quarterbacks Kyle Sloter and Drew Plitt would vie for the start against San Antonio in practice this week. Sloter threw three interceptions in last weekend’s loss to St. Louis…Against the Battlehawks, RG Jake Stetz suffered a knee injury and was helped off the field after Arlington’s fourth quarter touchdown. On the next drive, Brian Folkerts came in at center while Cameron Hunt moved to Stetz’s spot at RG. That could be the shape of the line this week, as Stetz was listed as a “DNP” in practice for two days and is therefore unlikely to be active against San Antonio…OLB Edmond Robinson may miss the game due to injury as well. His backup on the depth chart is Bunmi Rotimi. WR JaVonta Payton, who was just acquired from Orlando in a three-team trade, may not play due to a concussion…

Arlington made a change at the back-end of its roster, releasing RB Adrian Killins and signing RB Leddie Brown to replace him as the third-string back. Killins had initially been traded to Arlington via Houston before the regular season began. He had been the team’s main kick returner, a role that will now apparently go to Kenneth Farrow. Brown was in training camp with the St. Louis Battlehawks…The team also re-signed LB Ryan Mueller to replace LB Otaro Alaka, who was placed on IR last Saturday. Mueller was drafted by Arlington in November after playing for the New York Guardians in the XFL in 2020, but was released in camp…The Renegades activated WR Rannell Hall from IR for week five. He was placed there after the first game of the season…Arlington hosts a viewing party through Virtual Tables on Sunday night, which will include appearances by CB Josh Hawkins and XFL Director of Player Engagement Brian Westbrok.

DC Defenders

DC made a slew of transactions this week in preparation for their rematch with St. Louis. DT Gabe Wright was activated off the reserve list – he had been suspended for his part in the end-of-game brawl with the Battlehawks two weeks ago – and DT Denzel Chukwukelu was released. They also released WR Josh Malone and C Sam Cooper was waived from the Reserve List. RB Artavis Pierce was placed on injured reserve. The WR room was replenished with the signing of Raymond Calais and the activation of Jazz Ferguson off IR. Ferguson was hurt in camp but is ready to roll now. Calais is a RB/WR hybrid who ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the 2020 NFL combine and has played in four NFL games for the LA Rams. DT Fadol Brown was also put on IR…Because the team is on the road for the second time this year, a viewing party will be hosted by Atlas Brew Works on Saturday night.

Roughnecks quarterback #14 Cole McDonald carries the ball for a high-flying Houston Roughnecks in XFL week 4 action. (XFL Twitter)

Houston Roughnecks

The Roughnecks set the XFL record for points in a game with 44 against Orlando last weekend. The previous record was held by the LA Wildcats with 41 points in week five of 2020 against the Tampa Bay Vipers…In the second quarter of last weekend’s game against Orlando, James Moore replaced Sage Doxtater at left tackle. He played the rest of the game there. When the week four depth chart came out, Moore had supplanted Doxtater as the starter at the position…In another depth chart adjustment, Bryce Alleyne has overtaken Dejoun Lee as the backup running back. Alleyne led the team in rushing yards against Seattle on five carries, just one fewer than starter Max Borghi. Dejoun Lee carried the ball just once…

Lee returned kicks against Seattle despite not being first or second on the depth chart in that role…With Doxtater inactive against Seattle, Ryan Pope briefly subbed in for Moore at LT. He was immediately beaten by S Antonio Brooks for a sack/fumble deep in Seattle territory…Also against Seattle, WR Jontre Kirklin was ruled out with a shoulder ailment after the first series…The team played sans LB Trent Harris against the Sea Dragons. The XFL’s leading pass rusher was inactive.

Orlando Guardians

The XFL released a statement on Wednesday, clearing QB Quinten Dormady of any wrongdoing based on an investigation conducted by an outside firm. Dormady was initially released by Orlando following accusations that he had shared the Guardians’ playbook with a player on another team. Dormady has been restored to Orlando’s active roster, leaving the team with four quarterbacks…The offensive line dance continued against Houston with David Moore entering at LG, moving Abdul Beecham to RG to replace Fred Lauina. Lauina re-entered the game later on…

Orlando utilized a fullback several times against Houston, with TE Logan Carter often the one playing that role…In his one series against Houston, QB Deondre Francois led the team to a FG. He did not return after that one series due to a concussion he suffered…This week, Orlando released CB Javaris Davis and placed LB Tegray Scales on injured reserve. Davis had become expendable with the recent active list additions of CJ Holmes (who has moved into the starting spot ahead of Baylen Buchanan on the depth chart) and Tye Smith…Francois is listed as “questionable” on the week’s injury report after getting in a couple of limited practice sessions. The only other player to appear on the injury report for this week is LT Brett Boyko, who is “probable” with an ankle injury…Orlando picked up another sponsor, as Advent Health was named the official health care provider of the Guardians.

San Antonio Brahmas

Per game announcers Lowell Galindo and Sam Acho, the team cut their playbook in half on offense and defense prior to the Seattle game…When that didn’t help, Head Coach Hines Ward took the extraordinary step of demoting offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo, and promoting running backs coach Jimmie Johnson to offensive coordinator. Elizondo stays on to coach receivers, which he had been doing in addition to his OC duties. Johnson has been offensive coordinator at two stops previous to this: In 2002 at Shaw College, and 2004-2005 at Texas Southern University…

When Norman Price went down with a knee injury in the third quarter, he was replaced by backup G Malcolm Bunche, who right away gave up a sack on third down. The team was already without starting tackles Derrick Kelly (IR) and Chidi Okeke (out). It appears they’ll be getting Price and Okeke back for this week’s game against the Renegades…San Antonio will be the last team in the league to host its second home game as they do so Sunday night against Arlington.

Seattle Sea Dragons

Josh Seltzner, who had been getting reserve work as a guard, against San Antonio subbed in at left tackle. He also played there against Houston when Liam Jimmsons was felled with an injury in that game…Tejan Koroma also was worked into the lineup at the guard spots at various points against Houston…Recently-acquired DE Chris Smith is on the second-team at one end spot on the depth chart, ahead of Daniel Joseph…

Darius Bradwell started at RB against Houston even though the XFL’s leading rusher, Morgan Ellison, was active and available. Due to the short week, Seattle likely wanted to limit Ellison’s wear and tear, as he had been nursing various ailments the previous few weeks. He did check in for the first time in the third quarter…Bradwell received the start over second-string RB TJ Hammonds…Seattle blocked two blocked punts against Houston, one by Alijah Holder and another by Tuzar Skipper. It’s the first time a team has blocked two punts in an XFL game…Seattle sits at 3-2 despite a -10 turnover differential that is worst in the league. The team turned the ball over four times against Houston…, part of the SB Nation community covering the Seattle Seahawks, has been filing stories on the Sea Dragons as well.

St. Louis Battlehawks fans filled The Dome to witness a powerful Battlehawks victory. (XFL Twitter

St. Louis Battlehawks

After setting an XFL record by drawing 38,310 fans to The Dome at America’s Center last Sunday afternoon, the team has once again opened the 400 section of the stadium for limited seating in preparation for the upcoming game Saturday night game against the Defenders…St. Louis made several roster moves this past week. They activated CB Tim Harris from IR and signed DT Erik Hansen, releasing DT Damion Daniels and TE Jordan Thomas. Harris was placed on IR following week one. Hansen was a seventh round draft pick of Seattle in November. He’ll back up Kevin Atkins at nose guard. Daniels and Thomas were often weekly inactives…

On the team’s depth chart, Jake Sutherland has leap-frogged Jovani Haskins as the team’s starting TE. Haskins was a healthy scratch last week…St. Louis goes into their game with DC relatively healthy, with just three players appearing on their injury report, all listed as “probable”…A win will pull St. Louis into a tie with DC for first place in the XFL North at the halfway mark of the season.

Vegas Vipers

The first snap for Dohnovan West at center, replacing Khalil McKenzie, who was placed on IR, was low and led to a turnover. DC turned the turnover into five-yard D’Eriq King TD run…Luis Perez replaced Brett Hundley on the third Vegas offensive drive. Hundley seemed hampered by a hamstring aggravated in the previous game – though he did not appear on the injury report. It was later reported by ESPN’s sideline reporter that the switch was not injury related. Eventually, new offensive coordinator Ray Sherman was interviewed and said Hundley was getting “checked out” on the sidelines and that’s why Perez went in. Hundley does check in on this week’s injury report with a thigh injury, though he has practiced in full all week…

Cavon Walker was added to the Vipers roster for week five; the defensive linemen was a disruptive force for the New York Guardians in 2020, leading the league in sacks. More recently, he was a third round draft pick of the USFL last year…The team placed G Isaiah Williams and LB PJ Dawson on IR. Williams was a starter at guard while Dawson was a reserve. Tony Adams and Jamil Demby are candidates to replace Williams in the lineup…S Maurice Smith was activated off IR. He was listed as a starter on the team’s week one depth chart before being placed on IR days before opening weekend…WR Martavis Bryant and DT Robert Windsor are listed as “doubtful” on this week’s injury report against Orlando.

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