Dallas Renegades vs. LA Wildcats Week 2 Preview

All eyes will be squared away at Landry Jones as he makes his first start of the season for the Dallas Renegades as they take on the LA Wildcats on the road. Philip Nelson filled in for Jones and while he was efficient and accurate, the play calling was conservative with short passes. Head coach Bob Stoops hopes to have a stronger showing from his running game and defense that fell short of high expectations against the St. Louis BattleHawks.

LA has had a lot happen to them in the past two weeks. They lost their starting quarterback Josh Johnson to injury for week one and most likely week two. Not to mention head coach Winston Moss fired his defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson. Defensive lineman Anthony Johnson became a free agent after he was let go. On top of that, Charles Kanoff hasn’t practiced with his shoulder/thigh injury that might keep him out of the game Sunday.

Keys to the Game

Dallas Renegades

With Landry Jones starting at quarterback, this should open up the offense and allow Hal Humme to be more aggressive. The team will need to pass the ball deeper and often. The running game must improve as Cameron Artis-Payne will have to do better than zero yards rushing. A healthier Jeff Badet and Jazz Ferguson should make the passing game more effective. The offensive line had some issues protecting Nelson as he was sacked four times and open more running lanes for the running backs in the middle of the line.

Defense has to take advantage of a banged up quarterback play. If Kanoff cannot go, Jalan McClendon will take over at quarterback. His athletic ability should make things interesting as the defense struggled against another athletic quarterback in Jordan Ta’amu. The issues lie with McClendon fumbling and getting intercepted within a few plays. His inexperience could be an advantage for the Renegades. The front seven allowed almost 200 yards rushing so stopping Elijah Hood will be priority one. Josh Hawkins will be tasked with covering Nelson Spruce.

LA Wildcats

There’s too many questions in terms of what’s going on with the quarterbacks. Kanoff and McClendon both struggled in the loss to Houston. The offense will be relying on Nelson Spruce to step up and continue making big plays at receiver. The running game shorten out in the second half for the Wildcats. Elijah Hood will need a big game as the passing game could be in need of it. Norm Chow will need to dive deep into the playbook to come up with some creative plays to open up the offense.

The defense got exposed in the secondary for poor pass coverage as PJ Walker threw for four touchdowns. They have another tough task of covering the fastest receiver unit in the league. The secondary will need to play back further and be ready for big plays. Now with Anthony Johnson out of the picture, the front seven took a hit and will need to step up.

X-Factors

Lance Dunbar

He played a key role in last week’s game game as he was the team’s leading rusher and tied for the lead in catches. While he wasn’t listed on the depth chart last week, his speed and athleticism makes him a weapon on offense. He should get more touches this weekend as he proved to be their most efficient runner on the roster.

Jordan Smallwood

Nelson Spruce will command most of the attention which could open the door for Jordan Smallwood to have a big game. He already made an impact on last week’s game as he caught a touchdown pass in the game against Houston. Bob Stoops should know a lot about him being a former Oklahoma receiver there. Smallwood has quick speed and is a threat on the outside.

Injury Report

Dallas Renegades

Winston Craig, DL – Thigh, Did not participate
Landry Jones, QB – Knee, Limited participation
Hau’oli Kikaha, LB – Wrist, Limited participation

LA Wildcats

Saeed Blacknall, WR – Thigh, Did not participate
Chad Kanoff, QB – Shoulder/Head, Did not participate
Dujuan Harris, WR – Ankle, Did not participate
Harlan Miller, CB – Ankle, Did not participate
Jerome Couplin, S – Ankle, Limited participation
Josh Johnson, QB – Thigh, Limited participation
Kahlil McKenzie, C – Ankle, Limited participation
Jack Tocho, CB – Hip, Limited participation
Trevon Sanders, DT – Hand, Limited participation
Tre Williams, LB – Hand, Limited participation

Summary

The game comes down to how well Landry Jones can move around with his knee and how soon he can get into a rhythm. It will be important for Winston Moss to bring the heat early to try to rattle the veteran quarterback. The Renegades are filled with so many weapons for Jones to throw it to that Mumme will be dialing up some big plays to hit early. If the Wildcats don’t have a solution figured out at quarterback by kickoff, it could smell for a long day for LA.

Prediction: Dallas 29, LA 15

Five Observations from the Dallas Renegades Loss

The Dallas Renegades went down in their opener to the St. Louis BattleHawks 15-9.
The Dallas Renegades went down in their opener to the St. Louis BattleHawks 15-9. (Credit XFL.com)

Sunday did not go the way the Dallas Renegades were hoping it would go. They debuted their team on the new look Globe Life Park field to over 17,000 fans in the stands. The result of the game was a tough loss for fans and the team to go home to. The Dallas Renegades went down in their opener to the St. Louis BattleHawks 15-9. There were some positives to the game and some negatives that fans were able to observe on the field during the game that will set the tone for the rest of the season.

The Running Backs Will Catch the Ball Often

It was apparently from the beginning of the game that the running backs were going to be involved in the offense. On the first drive alone, fans saw Lance Dunbar catch two passes out of the backfield. He ended the game with six catches. The assumption was that the running backs were going to be apart of the identity of the team, but without Landry Jones, they were a good portion of the passing games. Many times, Philip Nelson would dump it off to the running back as a safety net. It will be interesting to see how much Jones will use his running backs.

Landry Jones is Needed

Hal Mumme’s play calling could be seen as conservative as he didn’t call many deep ball passes until the second half. Most of the game consisted of Nelson hitting Lance Dunbar or Flynn Nagel on short five to seven yard passes. While the offense was efficient in moving the ball down the field, the Renegades was very conservative with their pass calls. This has a lot to do with the fact that Nelson had calls that were all short passes. With Landry Jones most likely coming back into the lineup in week two, that should change how they play.

Rushing Attack is a Concern

All four running backs struggled as they combined for 12 carries for 58 yards. The Renegades was never able to establish a running game throughout the contest. The offensive line could be part of the responsibility as they weren’t able to open up many holes. Lance Dunbar was the most established back. Cameron Artis-Payne came in as the starter, but only got two carries in the game. The passing game was part of most of the game plan, but the team will need to work on opening up the running game more often.

Defense Had Trouble Against the Run

The front seven was considered to be one of the best and played well compared to other teams over the weekend. The weakness came in a couple of deep balls that were caught by the BattleHawks. Stopping the running game was shown to be the tough for the defense. Matt Jones and Jordan Ta’amu had big games on the ground as they are now the league’s top two rushers. Not a good sign for the team. Despite the fact that they allowed 191 yards rushing, the defense did only allow 15 points and have something to look forward to in the upcoming weeks.

Bob Stoops is the Right Man

Nothing bad can be said about how good it felt to have Bob Stoops back on the sidelines for the first time in three years. Stoops looked confident and handled the Jones injury as well as he could. He handled the media well after the game as he seemed excited to be back in coaching. This was a good test for the team and for Stoops to see how they would respond. The offense wasn’t able to finish drives and the defense struggled against the run, but the team was in the game the whole time. Stoops had his players ready for the game even though the result was not what they wanted it to be. Jones looks good to return next week against LA and with all the changes happening to the Wildcats, it looks to be a good matchup for the Renegades to bounce back with.

St. Louis BattleHawks vs. Dallas Renegades Week 1 Preview

St. Louis BattleHawks vs. Dallas Renegades

Sunday features the first game of the existent of the St. Louis BattleHawks and the Dallas Renegades. Both teams will be facing off at the Texas Rangers’ old ball park Globe Life Park in its debut as a football/soccer stadium. There are plenty of storylines with both teams in terms of offensive productivity and who will step up on defense. Let’s examine the top storylines between both teams.

Big Game Bob Stoops is Back

Fans haven’t seen Bob Stoops on the sidelines since the 2016 college football season. It will be odd seeing him coach professional athletics, but he seems to be up to the challenge. The goal of the XFL is to help develop players and Stoops is one of the best at it. He’s got a talented roster around him and built the team on pure speed. He may be rusty at the beginning with his coaching since the rules are different from college, but he shouldn’t lose a beat once he gets used to the flow of the game.

Landry Jones’ Injury Status

The knee injury occurred last month during the first week of training camp and we haven’t seen Landry Jones on the field until this week. He has been wearing a knee brace to protect it from further damage. No starter has been named at quarterback for Sunday’s game yet. He seemed to be moving around well in practice and threw the ball well too. He has been limited for most of the week so his status is still up in the air.

Jordan Ta’amu’s Professional Debut

We saw a glimpse of Jordan Ta’amu during preseason with the Houston Texans that did not end as well. The upside is that he is athletic. He can run for a first when he needs to and has a powerful arm. He may have to rely on his running game in Christine Michael and Matt Jones until he can ease his nerves into the game. There is plenty of upside to the young quarterback. He’ll need time and patience as he could eventually be one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league.

Renegades Receivers vs. BattleHawks Secondary

This was one of the most intriguing matchups of training camp seeing the BattleHawks secondary try to stop the Renegades’ speedy receivers. On shorter routes, the Renegades usually had the advantage as receivers like Jeff Badet and Flynn Nagel are so good in open space to create extra yards with their speed. Freddie Martino could have a big day in short routes as well should Jazz Ferguson not be able to recover from his hand injury. When there were deeper routes, the BattleHawks had the advantage. Corners like Darius Hillary, David Rivers, and D’Montre Wade were able to play well in one-on-one coverage. Not to mention whoever plays quarterback for the Renegades will have to go up against Kenny Robinson and Will Hill at the two safety positions.

BattleHawks Will Ground and Pound the Defense

The combination of Christine Michael and Matt Jones should make for an interesting pairing. Michael is a pure power back who will be tough to take down on the initial contact. Jones will have fun running to the outside to utilize his speed. The Renegades’ linebackers will have to step up and make plays. If they are not able to contain the two backs, it could open up the offense for Jordan Ta’amu to sling the ball around the field or create running opportunities for the quarterback.

Final Outcome?

It really all comes down to two things: can Landry Jones play and can the BattleHawks corners stop the passing game. We all know what the Renegades can be capable of in Hal Mumme’s offense. We know what the secondary of St. Louis can do in man coverage. One or two turnovers can change the outcome of the game. Another injury to the Renegades offense could put them in a lot of trouble. While both teams have their strengths and weaknesses, this will be one of the more exciting games of the weekend.

Dallas Renegades 2020 Season Preview

Photo: XFL.com

It’s hard to believe that the XFL season kicking off is less than a few days away. Two years in the making. Eight teams created and crafted together for February 8th and 9th. One of those teams put together might have a chance of winning the XFL Title: the Dallas Renegades.

The journey began with XFL commissioner Oliver Luck appointing Bob Stoops to coach and manager the Dallas franchise. Stoops was able to build a strong coaching staff that includes Hal Mumme at offensive coordinator and Chris Woods as defensive coordinator. Then comes Landry Jones. The first player in XFL history. Also the first player in Dallas Renegades history. He comes in as the alpha of the league and the leader of Dallas.

Bob Stoops built a strong team through the draft that includes Jeff Badet, Jazz Ferguson, Derron Smith, Lance Dunbar, Cameron Artis-Payne, and Frank Alexander. We saw a lot of players step up during camp and some under the radar players becoming potential stars. We take a look at the team as a whole and see how they may look this season.

Offense

Landry Jones has been the starter since day one. There was no question about that. Questions started to pop up when he went down with a knee injury week one of training camp. A scary moment for Jones, the Renegades, and fans. It seems to not be too serious of an injury, but serious enough that he could be out for the season opener against the St. Louis BattleHawks. If he can’t go, then comes in Philip Nelson as the most likely starter. Nelson throws a great deep ball and should be comfortable in the offense since he’s been with the team since mini-camp. Eric Dungey will provide the team as an effective backup who could be plugged in should another injury happen.

The running backs could have a committee of players that is headlined by Cameron Artis-Payne and Lance Dunbar. A potentially dangerous one-two punch. Artis-Payne will grind it out for tough yards using his strength and Dunbar provides an added weapon to the offense. Dunbar can catch and run out of the backfield. Expect him to be their speed back. Don’t sleep on Austin Walter and Marquis Young. Both guys ran the ball well with Walter showing flashes of greatness in the passing game and Young was dominate running the ball during training camp. Those two could see playing time should Dunbar’s injury issues continue to pop up.

Jeff Badet was the big name in the receiving core with his blazing speed and reliable hands. One receiver that popped out of nowhere was Jazz Ferguson. Small school fans will know his name and know what he can do. He one of the few receivers on the roster that is over 6 foot, 1 inches tall. He made spectacular catch after spectacular catch in mini and training camp. Having strong hands and being a threat in the red zone should make him one of the top targets. Flynn Nagel is a perfect slot receiver who has great hands. Should make a good compliment to Badet and Ferguson. Freddie Martino impressed in camp in his short time with the team which should earn him playing time.

Donald Parham showed great ability during camp as his size will make him a threat in the red zone. He got strong hands and is tough to bring down. Sean Price also showed how well he plays the game with his receiving ability. He played well during his time in the AAF so it should seem the same will apply in the XFL. Julian Allen adds good depth to the position.

The offensive line has great versatility and have great pass blocking ability. Willie Beavers will be responsible for cover the quarterback’s blind side. Alex Balducci can play either center or guard as he’s used to being the anchor and leader of the line in professional football despite being a defensive linemen in college. Pace Murphy has plenty of experience to help solidify the right side of the offensive line.

Offensive Depth Chart Week 1

QB – Landry Jones, Philip Nelson, Eric Dungey

RB – Cameron Artis-Payne, Marquis Young

WR – Jeff Badet

WR – Freddie Martino, Jazz Ferguson

WR – Flynn Nagel, Jerrod Heard

TE – Sean Price, Donald Parham, Julian Allen

LT – Willie Beavers, Justin Evans

LG – Salesi Uhatafe, Josh Allen

C – Maurquice Shakir, Josh Allen

RG – Alex Balducci, John Keenoy

RT – Pace Murphy, Darius James

Defense

The defense this season will be running a 3-4 defense which will consist of the front seven being fast off the line. Frank Alexander and Winston Craig shouldn’t have any trouble doing that. Alexander’s NFL experience with the Carolina Panthers should help. Craig is quick off the line and should have opportunities to sack the quarterback since Alexander will be getting plenty of attention. Gelen Robinson looks to be the starting nod at defensive tackle as the main run stopper in the middle of the line.

The linebackers are the strongest position on the defense. Ray Ray Davison is solid in coverage and will be asked to blitz from the outside often. Johnathan Calvin also is a perfect fit in the defense as he will help in pass rushing. Greer Martini also showed good coverage skills and rarely misses a tackle in the open field.

Derron Smith has been talked about for his ballhawking skills all camp long and it hasn’t disappointed. He has a chance of being one of the best safeties in the league who will create plenty of turnovers. Josh Hawkins brings his NFL experience to the secondary as he will help as a starter as a corner. Treston Decoud was exceptional in man coverage during camp covering the fastest of receivers on the Renegades roster.

Defensive Depth Chart Week 1

DE – Frank Alexander

DT – Gelen Robinson, Tomasi Laulile

DE – Winston Craig, Tony Gueard

OLB – Johnathan Calvin, James Folston

ILB – Ray Ray Davison, Asantay Brown, Tegray Scales

ILB – Greer Martini, Reshard Cliett, Tre Watson

OLB – Hau’oil Kikaha, Tobenna Okeke

CB – Josh Hawkins, Josh Thornton

CB – Treston Decoud, Donatello Brown

FS – Derron Smith, Micah Abernathy

SS – Tenny Adewusi, Doyin Jibowu

Special Teams

Austin MacGinnis showed to be accurate with his kicking and has some range to make field goals from 50 or more yards. Drew Galitz also has good foot strength and will be asked to be smart with his punting since the new rules make punting more of a challenge. Jeff Badet and Marquis Young both have a ton of speed to them as they will be handling the return game on special teams.

Special Teams Depth Chart Week 1

K – Austin MacGinnis

P – Drew Galitz

H – Drew Galitz, Jerrod Heard

PR – Jeff Badet, Flynn Nagel

KR – Marquis Young, Austin Walter

LS – Christian Kuntz

Final Analysis

The Renegades are one of the early favorites to win the league title in the first year. It all comes down to their offensive weapons and their linebacking core that can make or break this team. They seem to be dealing with lots of injuries to key positions before the season starts. The depth of the team could be tested right away. It’ll be important for the team to get off on a fast start. Landry Jones’ performance could tell the story on how this team will fair this season.

Final Prediction: 7-3 record, 1st in the West, XFL Champions over DC Defenders

Breaking Down the Dallas Renegades 52-Man Roster

The Dallas Renegades, like the rest of the XFL, completed their 52-man rosters Monday as they now focus on their first game February 9th against the St. Louis BattleHawks.

Here is the complete breakdown of the Renegades’ roster:

Dallas Renegades Roster

Offense:

Quarterbacks – Landry Jones, Philip Nelson, Eric Dungey

No surprise that nothing has changed with the quarterback position. Landry Jones is expected to be the starter once he recovers from his knee injury. Philip Nelson has been taking the starter snaps in Jones’ place and his performance in the scrimmage against the BattleHawks shows indications that he can command the offense. Despite his hamstring injury, Eric Dungey has looked good in practice with great arm strength, but his lack of work in the offense puts Nelson in the driver seat for backup quarterback.

Running Back – Cameron Artis-Payne, Lance Dunbar, Austin Walter, Marquis Young

Cuts – Darnell Holland

The running back position should be Cameron Artis-Payne’s job as he has been the most consistent, hard-hitting runner on the team. Catching the ball out of the field should work in favor for Lance Dunbar and Austin Walter as their athleticism should help on third down.Marquis Young has caught the attention of the coaching staff during training camp and should provide good depth at the position.

Wide Receiver – Jeff Badet, Jazz Ferguson, Flynn Nagel, Freddie Martino, Jerrod Heard, Joshua Crockett

Cuts – Simmie Cobbs (Waiver Assignment to DC), Floyd Allen, James Quick, Carl Whitely

Fans knew this would be the most competitive and the position who suffered the most turnover. Jeff Badet and Jazz Ferguson have been dominate since coming onto the team and should get significant playing time. Flynn Nagel is perfect as the slot receiver for the Renegades as he has shown to have great hands. Freddie Martino caught the attention of offensive coordinator Hal Mumme since he was traded to Dallas and could play a big role in the offense. Jerrod Heard has strong hands and could be used for some trick plays since he was a former quarterback in college. Joshua Crockett has impressed since mini-camp for his route running and hands.

Tight Ends – Donald Parham, Sean Price, Julian Allen

Cuts – Romello Brooker

Donald Parham and Sean Price has been fighting for the top spot on the depth chart as both have looked good as receivers and blockers. The battle for the starter will be going on until before the first game of the season. Julian Allen also has played well at tight end and should be able to find some playing time in the rotation.

Offensive Line – Pace Murphy, Alex Balducci, Maurquice Shakir, Justin Evans, Willie Beavers, Josh Allen, Salesi Uhatafe, Darius James, John Keenoy

Cuts – Derrick Puni, Oni Omoile, Patrick Lawrence

Pace Murphy and Alex Balducci has been in the starting lineups and have been great in pass protection. Maurquice Shakir and Justin Evans have also shown great blocking ability as we have seen the guards play well in camp. The strength of this offensive line is their athleticism and versatility in run blocking.

Defense:

Defensive Line – Frank Alexander, Winston Craig, Gelen Robinson, Tony Guerad, Tomasi Laulile

Cuts – Omarius Bryant, Richard Ash, Gerald Rivers, Deon Simon, Tyrell Thompson

Frank Alexander was an early favorite to make the team and start with his experience in the defense and his NFL experience. He should start and be one of the best pass rushers in the XFL. Winston Craig is another great pass rusher who should be the other starter along with Gelen Robinson providing good depth at defensive end. Tony Guerad and Tomasi Laulile are both big men who can shut down the the running game in the middle.

Linebackers – Ray Ray Davison, Greer Martini, Johnathan Calvin, Tre Watson, Asantay Brown, James Folston, Reshard Cliett, Tobenna Okeke, Tegray Scales, Hau’oli Kikaha, Christian Kuntz

Cuts – Jonathan Massaquoi (Waiver Assignment to DC)

This linebacker core is deep and has a ton of speed at outside linebacker. Johnathan Calvin had a great scrimmage against the BattleHawks where he provided a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks and recorded an interception. Ray Ray Davison and Greer Martini have impressed defensive coordinator Chris Woods with their speed on the outside and coverage skills. Tre Watson has also played up to par and should get some playing time.

Cornerbacks – Josh Hawkins, Dashaun Phillips, Treston Decoud, Donatello Brown, Josh Thornton

Cuts – Jamal Peters

Josh Hawkins has the most experience from the NFL and has done well to be a shut down receivers in camp. Dashaun Phillips has also been impressive in camp as well in coverage skills and should get playing time. Treston Decoud and Donatello Brown played well enough that they will get playing time as well.

Safeties – Derron Smith, Micah Abernathy, Tenny Adewusi, Doyin Jibowu

Cuts – Marwin Evans, Ryan Moeller

It was a surprise to see Marwin Evans and Ryan Moeller get cut from the team, but the deep safety position made it hard for them to make the team. Derron Smith will be one of the leaders on the team and is considered one of the best hawking safeties in the XFL. Micah Abernathy possesses great tackling skills and should be key in using him in blitzing situations.

Special Teams:

(K) Austin MacGinnis, (P) Drew Galitz, (LS) Christian Kuntz

Austin MacGinnis has a strong leg and showed pin point accuracy on his field goals at training camp. Drew Galitz is accurate with where he positions the ball and will have to continue that success with the rule changes to punting. Owen Gilbert was cut in favor of Christian Kuntz to take over the position as he has long snapper experience.

Final Thoughts

The offensive coaching staff made some tough decisions at receiver, but found guys that will make big plays with Ferguson and Badet. Jones should have plenty of weapons at receiver and running back to open up the offense. The offensive line is athletic and will be tasked with protecting pocket passer Jones to prevent anymore injuries.

The Renegades showed the importance of having linebackers for not only on the outside, but find tacklers that can help out in special teams in kickoff coverage. Derron Smith will have to lead the secondary and provide great coverage as the league has shown to have playmaking receivers. Led by Frank Alexander, the defensive line, while light on players, should be able to pressure the quarterback and the tackles will be able to plug the middle of the line to force runners to the outside.

Dallas Renegades Training Camp Week Two Observations

Dallas Renegades

Saturday morning in Houston was gloomy, dark, rainy, and humid combined together. Some would say it’s a good day to stay indoors and enjoy the start of the weekend. For XFL teams, it was the perfect day to scrimmage each other and end the second full week of training camp on a high notes. The Dallas Renegades were looking to do the same from W.W. Throne Stadium against the St. Louis BattleHawks.

The Renegades have been in the headlines for the XFL with the major news involving quarterback Landry Jones, the trades they have been making, and the recent signing of quarterback Eric Dungey. They have been under the spotlight of training camp with the amount of big names within the franchise as they push for a West Division title and an XFL Title.

Eric Dungey Suffers Injury, Philip Nelson Leading Quarterback Battle

Eric Dungey made headlines when he joined the Renegades the day after the Landry Jones injury to serve as the backup quarterback to Philip Nelson. Things got interesting after Dungey’s first workout with the team in Houston. According to offensive coordinator Hal Mumme when speaking with XFL Board, Dungey pulled his hamstring after just one workout and has been working through the injury.

“He appears to be athletic and he’s got a strong arm in the little bit we have seen him I was impressed,” coach Mumme said. “We’ll have to get him well and be able to work with.”

During Saturday’s scrimmage practice with the BattleHawks, Dungey did not suit up only wearing his number seven red jersey. He did throw during seven-on-seven drills, but Nelson took all the snaps when the teams played full offense versus full defense. While spectators were not able to see his mobility, Dungey’s arm looked good. He had quite the rip on the ball as he displayed great velocity on his deep passes. There were times he overthrew his receivers, but that could have a lot to do with his hamstring and being limited on his movement. Nelson got off to a good start as he looked good on his deep passes and seems to be developing good chemistry with his receivers. Both coach Mumme and head coach Bob Stoops have been pleased with what they have saw out of the quarterback in Jones’ absence.

“I think he’s done great,” coach Mumme said. “He was like 90% for the day (Friday). He’s done a great job throwing competitions, keeping the game moving. He has gotten better and better each day in his leadership ability and stuff like that. He’s stepped up and I think the team has really rallied around him.”

“Philip’s (Nelson) has really done a great job. Especially in the last three-four practices, he’s really picked it up. You can tell he’s getting more and more comfortable with everything we’re doing and the added repetition, he’s continued to really improve. ”

Update on Landry Jones Injury

Landry Jones did not throw passes at camp on Saturday, but Bob Stoops told XFL Board that Jones has been making good progress in his rehab back onto the field.

“Seems to be healing fine,” coach Stoops said. “Still unsure how many more weeks it will be, but he’s feeling better and better everyday.”

In a post on Sunday by the Renegades team, Jones was seen on the field with the team throughout his time in Houston working with teammates and the quarterbacks helping them get accustomed to the air-raid offense. His leadership skills have been on display since he joined the team and continues to be the man running the show even if he is sidelined. No word yet as to whether the team expects him to start week one of the season against the BattleHawks.

Dallas running back Cameron Artis-Payne finds a crease against Los Angeles last Saturday.
Dallas running back Cameron Artis-Payne finds a crease against Los Angeles last Saturday. Credit: XFL.com

Running Back Competition is Fierce

One of the toughest battles to determine a winner of during training camp has been the running back competition as five running backs are going for the top spot. The battle is tight as the competition is between Cameron Artis-Payne, Lance Dunbar, Austin Walter, Marquis Young, and Darnell Holland. Renegades running back coach Bobby Blizzard and the rest of the coaching staff know they will have a difficult decision to make when all is said and done in Houston.

“They’re making it hard on me every day. I go to sleep thinking that if I lose any of these guys, I’ll be heartbroken,”coach Blizzard said to XFL.com in a recent interview. “Still, to this day and this moment, if it came down to cuts, I still wouldn’t know who to pick. I would need the whole staff to bounce ideas off them and see what they think of each kid.”

“It has truly been a competition,” coach Mumme told XFL Board. “You got two veterans guys in Lance Dunbar and Cam Artis-Payne who have really provided a lot of leadership. They play well, they know what to do. But they have helped bring along Marquis Young who really is a great competitor. Austin Walter has had a good camp. Darnell Holland is a guy who’s learning the running back position, but he played in an offense in college that was like a Flexbone deal as the wingback so he’s had to learn a lot of stuff, but has incredible speed. He’s really someone we’ve enjoyed working with.”

One thing that has been very apparent with the running backs has been their athletic abilities to catch the ball out of the backfield. Walter had a big day as he was able to catch a tough over the shoulder diving catch that wowed and fired up the sidelines. Young and Holland ran the ball hard as the three are all fighting for spots on the team. It seems as though Artis-Payne and Dunbar could find their ways onto the squad. It’s a matter of how many running backs will the team carry and which of them will make the cut.

Receivers Impressing the Coaching Staff

There has been a lot of movement at the receiver position, but there is no denying that there is a ton of speed and talent within the group. There have been several players that have stood out in the pack as the leaders. Jeff Badet has had a great training camp and that comes at no surprise with his knowledge of the offense and the strong chemistry he has been building with Landry Jones. The one player everyone has been talking about though: Jazz Ferguson. Ferguson is poised for big things this season as he has been known for making spectacular catches and being difficult to cover one-on-one. They have no doubt caught the attention of the offensive coaching staff along with the other receivers.

“Yeah there’s been some big play guys there definitely,” coach Stoops said. “Jazz is such a big target to make big plays. Jeff Badet has such speed to make big plays. A lot of others guys are really stepping up. Flynn Nagel inside is a really sure handed guy with great route running. It’s a good group.”

During Saturday’s camp, newcomer Freddie Martino is quickly making noise as he displayed some nice route running and great hands. Despite the fact that he is coming onto the team late after being traded, Martino has already shown that he is on his way to making the roster and could get playing time. The tough part as well for the coaches is the fact that several players have played well. Coach Mumme spoke very highly of the group and how they are performing.

“Overall, it’s been a task to try to sort out who’s going to make the club,” coach Mumme said. “Mainly because they’re all so even. Of course, we traded Stacy (Coley), brought in Freddie Martino who had a great day yesterday (Friday).”

Along with Badet, Ferguson, and Martino, we have seen several other receivers stepping up. Simmie Cobbs, Flynn Nagel, and Jerrod Heard had big days Saturday and have continued to play efficiently. Cobbs will provide some needed outside skills catching the ball while Nagel makes for a perfect Wes Welker-type in the slot. Not to mention Heard has proven to be a physical receiver who seem to have caught every ball thrown his way against the BattleHawks secondary. The coaching staff will have some tough decisions Wednesday when they start making cuts.

Defense Hitting Hard and Learning Harder

The defense had to have been excited once training camp started as they finally got to suit up and tackle for the first time since joining the XFL. Mini-camp for the defenders was learning the 3-4 system that defensive coordinator Chris Woods has implemented into the defense. A scheme that requires a lot of speed and a lot of thinking on their feet to react.

“They’re a smart group,” coach Woods told XFL Board. “The focus on this one was a little bit more of a technique and toughness and see who’s going to play ball the right way and learn the rules. You know you have a reimagined game and there are some things we have to work around defensively. That’s awesome. I think there’s some great, exciting additions, but it is a little bit how you coach it.”

Some of the rule changes that is more geared towards the offense includes the one foot inbounds, the double forward pass, and the new point after conversions. Despite the new changes, the challenge of a more offensive-friendly rules doesn’t seem to faze the defensive coaching staff.

“Our number one job is to be an extension of the offense and to keep us in the game,” coach Woods said. “We can’t control the rules. Wherever they spot the ball and whatever they tell us the rules are, we are going to try to go up and stop them. It’s more of just educating the guys. Certain things they are not used to from the NFL or going back to college.”

The defense is filled with veterans and big play players from their days in the NFL and some of the Alliance of American Football including guys like Frank Alexander, Jonathan Massaquoi, Derron Smith, and Josh Hawkins. The team as a unit has been too good to point out one guy who has played well. Woods talked a lot about the linebackers like Greer Martini and Ray Ray Davison have played well along with the strong play from Smith and the rest of the secondary. They were on full display going up against the BattleHawks stacked offense and will have something to say when the season starts.

Special Teams is Pretty Special

One of the questions after the team waived long snapper Owen Gilbert was who the Renegades were going to turn to in regards to handling long snapping duties. It appears that linebacker Christian Kuntz will be taking over those duties. Kuntz was brought onto the team late last month and has done work in the past as a long snapper so the team will turn to him to handle those duties and looks to go into the season as the man in the middle of the line on field goals and punts.

Austin MacGinnis was one of the sharpest looking players at camp with his performance on field goals. He was perfect during his time on the field as he is displaying a strong leg and every kick he made looked like he was hitting them right in-between the uprights. While special teams seems to be under-appreciated especially since they have eliminated kicks on extra points, MacGinnis will have to make the most of his time on the field.

The kickoff coverage did take a hit as they get used to the new alignment as they saw a familiar foe get through the line of defense easily for a big return. Former Renegades wide receiver Keith Mumphrey seems to be making the most of his time with the BattleHawks as he returned a kickoff without being touched on the Renegades as he got a small sense of revenge in practice. Most fans know it’ll be an adjustment period for teams to get used to the new kickoff rules so Renegade fans should be happy it’s happening now and not in real action.

Notable Players Sidelined on Saturday

There were some notable players that did not workout with the team on the field on Saturday as they could be seen running on the sidelines working their way back onto the field. Noteworthy players included wide receiver Floyd Allen, running back Lance Dunbar, defensive end Frank Alexander, and defensive tackle Winston Craig. It’s a tough break for Dunbar as he has had a history of fighting through injuries and is expected to play a factor in the offense on passing downs. Allen is battling for a spot in the receiver rotation as it continues to get deeper and deeper in the position on the depth chart. Alexander is a veteran presence that the Renegades need and Craig was looked at to be apart of the rotation of defensive tackles, but with the additions of Drew Bailey and Omarius Bryant, it will make competition tougher for everyone at the position.

Four XFL Teams Engage in Wide Receiver Trades

The XFL announced more trades on their transaction page Sunday with all four teams involved swapping wide receivers. This is the first trades made since December 18th as it is the latest wave of roster moves being made by teams before training camp concludes on January 21st.

Dallas Renegades trade Wide Receiver Stacy Coley to the Tampa Bay Vipers for Wide Receiver Freddie Martino

Stacy Coley performed well at mini camp last month for the Renegades as they have one of the deepest wide receiver cores in the XFL making competition fierce at the position. Jazz Ferguson has emerged as a big play receiver on the outside for Dallas which could have played a role in Coley being traded to Tampa Bay. Vipers head coach Marc Trestman loves to sling the ball as he is known for being able to work well with quarterbacks. Coley should have plenty of time to prove himself during training camp. He will have to compete with a receiving core that should open up chances to start, but Coley have great speed and showed reliable hands for Dallas.

Freddie Martino will fit perfectly in Renegades offensive coordinator Hal Mumme’s offense as he also possesses great speed as he runs at around a 4.49 40-yard dash and has a chance to come in and play in the slot. Don’t be surprised if he gets a look at special teams as well as he could be looked at as a returner. He showed great potential in his last stop in the AAF with the Arizona Hotshots where he recorded 11 catches for 126 yards. He will have a lot of competition as Ferguson as well as Flynn Nagel have made things tougher with their play on the field.

LA Wildcats trade Wide Receiver Rashad Ross to the DC Defenders for Wide Receiver Tre McBride

Rashad Ross was a force in the AAF as he was regarded as one of the best receivers in the league. He is an absolute burner and can go one-on-one with any corner in the XFL. He had 36 catches for 583 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games with the Arizona Hotshots. It comes as a surprise that the Wildcats would let him go, but this can be seen as a major boast for the Defenders. Quarterback Cardale Jones will have a deep threat to throw it to and really makes the receiver position tough for the DC coaches to decide on with Malachi Dupree and Eli Rogers highlighting a deep group. It’s safe to say that DC improved with this move and now makes what is already a talented offense better and more dangerous.

Tre McBride ran a 4.37 40-yard dash if that speaks to what kind of receiver he is at 6 foot tall. He will make for a solid slot receiver in LA. There is talent at receiver for the Wildcats, but will need to find their number one target in the offense for either Luis Perez or Josh Johnson to throw to when the season starts. McBride will have to make his mark as a deep threat with his speed and could work his way into a returner role being one of the faster players on the active roster. Chow now has another piece to the offense to play with in regards to how to utilize his speed to deep routes or wide receiver reserve runs.

Overall Impression

It’s hard to say who won with these trades as all four of these receivers will have equal opportunity to make their teams and all have prior professional football experience which is a plus. They all have until January 21st to quickly learn the offenses and show off their skills quickly. Coley and Ross should play well enough to earn roster spots and even start for their teams in week one of the season. All these receivers are good roster fits with great speed which opens up special teams returner as options for each of them.

Dallas Renegades Training Camp Week One Recap

New rules for the upcoming XFL season dominated the news outlets this week as they brought many innovative ideas to the table, but the Dallas Renegades had an eventful week of their own that could have major implications to the start of the regular season.

Quarterback Landry Jones Injured

Besides the rule changes to the league, Landry Jones’ injury was one of the biggest stories of the new XFL season. During Monday’s practice, Jones suffered a knee injury that has resulted in him being off the field for 4-6 weeks. Some will see this as a major blow to the Renegades and the league in general as he was not only the first player to sign with the league, but he is considered one of the faces of the league. With this injury, it could result in him being inactive for the opening game of the season or even miss two to three games. It could also mean that he might bounce back before then and be ready to start with the team from game one. That decision will depend on how fast he can heal and how soon coach Bob Stoops wants to get him back into the lineup.

This leads to the team turning to backup QB Philip Nelson to be the next man up. He has shown great ability in both mini-camp and training camp that he has great deep ball accuracy and high football IQ with his extensive knowledge of offensive coordinator Hal Mumme’s offense. He’s been working closely with Jones on getting the terminology down so he can go out and play without overthinking it. He went into the season as one of the better backups in the league and he might have a chance to showcase it in the opener against the St. Louis BattleHawks. With the injury comes big concerns about the depth of the quarterback position, which resulted in the team acting quick and finding a new quarterback to fill in.

Eric Dungey Signed, Jerrod Heard Plays at QB

Former Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey was called upon to join the quarterback conversation as the Renegades brought him in to be the new backup quarterback. This week though, he has had more time just learning the offense and get comfortable with the play calls. Wide receiver and former Texas Longhorns quarterback Jerrod Heard was moved back into his old position as he took snaps at quarterback to help with depth until Dungey can get back up to speed. Stoops didn’t seem phased by his new quarterback situation though when discussing their play.

“[Philip Nelson] looks really strong, doing a great job with more reps that he’s getting,” Stoops said in an article on xfl.com. “Eric Dungey came in and filled in well today, and Jerrod Heard also is getting some snaps and he’s looked better the more reps he gets. So they’re all doing a good job.”

If Dungey is able to learn quickly and get in some reps, this could present a quarterback controversy that was not anticipated for training camp. Dungey displays good arm strength and accuracy along with his experience with spread offense. He’s comfortable in the pocket in shotgun formations and has pin point accuracy on short yardage passes. His only real big knock is his inability of staying healthy. In his first three seasons at Syracuse, he suffered injuries in all, but was able to make ever start in his senior season which is a plus. Week two will be a defining point in Dungey’s young XFL career to determine if he can take the job away from Nelson.

New Helmet Radio Communication

The XFL did announce new rules when it came down to how radio communication is handled with all skill players getting radios inserted into their helmets for the league to promote quicker play calls and more of a chance to not huddle up. The Dallas Renegades were the first ones to test it out earlier in the week to see how it would work. Hal Mumme spoke about how it was going learning how to adjust to the new communication system in the league.

“Speed is obviously the biggest difference because I can get the play out to six guys at a time,” Mumme said on an article on xfl.com. “I think it’s pretty cool. I always hated headsets until now.”

This radio system works perfectly with the style of offense that the Renegades are going to be running. The Air Raid offense is almost exclusively run in the shotgun which should help the quarterbacks make the calls easier and this should help all the skill players to line up correctly without any issues of misplacement in where they are on the field. It will be an adjustment for all eight of the XFL teams, but one that could benefit teams that might want to move up the tempo offensively and help avoid delay of game penalties with the new 25 second play clock.

Long Snapper Owen Gilbert Waived

The Renegades will be faced with an interesting situation in regards to what they will do at the long snapper position. Owen Gilbert was announced as being waived from the team on Thursday. His story was interesting in the fact that former Indianapolis Colts long snapper Matt Overton was originally offered a spot on the team as their long snapper, but he couldn’t commit to it. Instead, he recommended Gilbert to them and Dallas ended up signing him. Now the team may either look on their roster or somewhere in free agency for a new long snapper.

Camp Standouts: Jazz Ferguson & Josh Hawkins

Jazz Ferguson has to be looked at as a potential sleeper to make this team and probably get significant playing time. Time and time again on social media, we have witnessed Ferguson making some spectacular catches in the end zone. He has obviously proven to be a deep threat to this team and has gained the confidence of his quarterbacks. In a time where the team may not have their starting quarterback at the beginning of the season, having a player like Ferguson will give them more confidence to throw it up to him to make a big catch. I would not be surprised to see him in the starting lineup during training camp and possibly at the beginning of the season.

Josh Hawkins is one of many defensive backs on the team who stood out in week one of training camp. With the winds being strong and the weather being so-so in Houston, the secondary did an outstanding job in coverage and creating turnovers. They had the tough task of shutting down some of the fastest receivers in the league and all indications have been they were able to do that and more. Hawkins was one of those ballhawking corners to have an impressive week one. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as he has NFL experience from his time with the Green Bay Packers where he actually started three games in 2017 and recorded six pass deflections. He will play a key role in this defense as a veteran presence and could earn a spot in the starting lineup.

Dallas Renegades Quarterback Landry Jones Injured

A tough break for the XFL Dallas Renegades and quarterback Landry Jones as he suffered a left knee injury at training camp in Houston Monday.

It isn’t clear as to how he was injured, but the team released a statement Tuesday night giving an update on his injury. He is expected to miss about 4-6 weeks as the medical staff continue to evaluate his knee in the upcoming weeks. Head coach and general manager Bob Stoops released a statement regarding his injury:

“We are sorry to see Landry sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks and are hopeful he will heal quickly and be back on the field at our opener, if not just shortly after,” Stoops said. “Landry is the leader of our team and will continue to play that key role.”

The team will most likely turn to backup quarterback Philip Nelson who has prior starting experience when he started for the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football. As of Tuesday night, Nelson is the only other quarterback on the roster other than Jones which could mean Stoops and the Renegades will have to look for another quarterback to fill in. The team has not announced who they will sign to be the new backup.

Jones was the first XFL player signed, after having a successful career under Stoops at the University of Oklahoma, and spent seven seasons in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

While this is crushing news for the Renegades in the first week of training camp, Nelson proved in the AAF that he is more than capable of leading a new franchise. His experience in the AAF should help him as he might end up being the opening day starter for the Renegades if Jones cannot go.

Key Renegade Players to Watch for at XFL Training Camp

The XFL Dallas Renegades go into training camp as one of the favorites to win the league title with head coach Bob Stoops leading the way, and quarterback Landry Jones commanding the offense. The team has talent on both sides of the football and plenty of speed. With all the talent the team has assembled, training camp will be a time for Stoops and his staff to try to figure out who will be stars on the team and who will be their playmakers.

Here is a list of players Renegade fans should look out for at XFL training camp in Houston.

Landry Jones, Quarterback

This is kind of a no-brainer as he was the first XFL player to join the league, and is the leader of this team. He has had months to work with Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Hal Mumme to learn the offense, and help the others catch up and learn from him. He showed great sharpness in his play at minicamp and displayed strong arm strength when throwing it down the field. Players on the team will look at him to carry the team as they get used to the offensive system and Stoops will challenge him to take the next step in his development as a professional player. Jones should be an early preseason candidate for MVP and could take the league by storm, thanks to his high football IQ and his speedy wide receivers.

Lance Dunbar, Running Back

He’s been out of football for a few years after dealing with lingering injuries, but now he’s back in North Texas to become one of the team’s most important weapons. He’s known for being a strong third down back with great hands and enough speed to run outside the tackles. He won’t put up huge stats in the running game, but he could lead the team in total scrimmage yards with running the ball and catching. He’s a great weapon for Mumme to move around whether that be lining him up in the backfield or flexing him in the slot. He provides plenty of professional experience and skills to be used in the offense.

Jeff Badet, Wide Receiver

Badet is just one of the many, many receivers with plenty of speed, and has already built good chemistry with Landry Jones. Badet was shown playing in the slot plenty of times during mini camps and was able to call all the balls thrown his way. While the receiving group is talented, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the starting lineup from game one with his familiarity with Bob Stoops and what he is looking for in his offense.

Frank Alexander, Defensive End

Another former Bob Stoops player that should use his veteran leadership and experience to help the defense grow. Alexander was well known for his pass rushing skills in college, and with the Carolina Panthers. He displayed his skills of being able to fight off blocks and get to the quarterback. Defensive coordinator Chris Woods will ask Alexander to help the younger defensive linemen learn the defense and lead by example. Expect him to be either a starter on defense, or be a key factor in the defensive line rotation for this season.

Jonathan Massaquoi, Linebacker

His NFL experience helps make him a valuable asset to this defense. With Chris Woods running a 3-4 defense, Massaquoi had a chance to run in that defense with the Atlanta Falcons where he recorded six sacks and 70 tackles in his NFL career. He spent time with the Birmingham Iron where he sacked the quarterback three times in eight games. He has a lot of speed and will be a good pass rusher off the outside from a defensive end or linebacker position. Being one of the older players on the team, Massaquoi will be able to help this defense learn fast and go hard on defense.

Derron Smith, Safety

The hard-hitting, ball-hawking safety should be one of the most important parts of the defense. He displayed plenty of skills while playing for the San Antonio Commanders in the AAF last year after recording three interceptions. His coverage skills are strong and make him one of the best in the XFL. He will be looked at as one of the leaders on a talented secondary, and should help make the defense one of the best in the league.

Austin MacGinnis, Kicker

MacGinnis had a successful college career with knocking in 79% of his field goals at Kentucky. After not making the Chicago Bears and not getting signed to the Dallas Cowboys this past season, he found success with the Memphis Express of the AAF where he hit 9-11 field goals. He’s got good range from long distance and has been consistently accurate in his career. Another success run in a professional setting could help him take the next step.

Others to Watch

Cameron Artis-Payne (RB), Stacy Coley (WR), Treston Decoud (CB), Willie Beavers (OL), Alex Balducci (C), Greer Martini (LB)