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New York Guardians Training Camp Recap: Standing on guard for the upcoming season

It’s been a long road to get to this point. The regular season is almost upon us.

The New York Guardians have completed training camp in Houston. The team will be heading back home today.

Training camp officially ended on Tuesday for the Guardians’, with a live scrimmage against their week one opponent, the Tampa Bay Vipers. New York will host this rematch at MetLife Stadium in each team’s 2020 season opener on Sunday, Feb. 9 (2 p.m. ET, FOX).

Guardians Vipers Test Game

Credit: XFL.com

GUARDIANS-VIPERS SCRIMMAGE

New York and Tampa ended training camp together. They will also be starting and ending the regular season against each other, in weeks one and ten. To quote T.S. Eliot, “In my end is my beginning.”

It’s not standard practice in football for week one opponents to practice against each other before their first game. Both team staffs were put in a unique position, having to get their teams ready for the opener without putting all their cards on the table. Tuesday’s scrimmage was a dry run for both sides, and a dress rehearsal for Fox and the referees.

The final score of the Guardians’ scrimmage was New York 27 Tampa 15. The outcome itself wasn’t that important. For New York, training camp has been a mixed bag. The Guardians’ defense has been ahead of the game thus far. New York’s offense has had its struggles, and there have been quite a few changes to the roster since mini-camp ended back in late December. (More on that later).

The performance of New York’s QB1 in the scrimmage, Matt McGloin, was reflective of training-camp for the Guardians offense. McGloin threw for three touchdowns but also turned the ball over twice with two interceptions. After the game, McGloin admitted that the Guardians are still working through issues of consistency on offense. The clock is ticking with the season fast approaching.

There are three New York receivers, that figure to be key cogs in the passing game. DeAngelo Yancey, Mekale McKay, and Tanner Gentry. The competition behind those three has been wide-open.

Two wideouts who have emerged in recent weeks, shined in Tuesday’s scrimmage. Teo Redding and Colby Pearson. Both players made a strong case for significant roles come Sunday, Feb. 9. Redding, the former Bowling Green standout, had several big catches against Tampa. A 36-yard touchdown and a one-point conversion in the first half. BYU’s Colby Pearson had an unconventional 76-yard touchdown grab. Pearson made a big catch down the field, landed inside the 30, then realizing that he wasn’t touched, rose to his feet and raced to the end-zone. Another receiver that is making his case for a spot is Justice Liggins. He made a great 30-yard contested-catch during the scrimmage. Another late transplant on the Guardians roster, Austin Duke scored on a Marquise Williams touchdown pass. The New York staff has some tough roster decisions to make at receiver.

The Guardians’ defense stood out again in Houston. LSU’s Terrence Alexander has been one of the stars of New York’s camp. The player that LSU’s Ed Orgeron called one of the smartest players, he has ever been around, completed camp in Houston, with another stellar performance during this scrimmage. Alexander has been all over the field making plays all January, from the safety, nickel and outside corner position.

Guardians Dragons Test Game

Credit: Justin Kelm

TRANSACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
(VOLUME THREE)

Two weeks ago, New York jettisoned three receivers off their roster and brought three new ones in to replace them. Last week, New York traded for two offensive linemen from St. Louis in Avery Young and Dejon Allen.

On Sunday, the Guardians traded Charles ‘Chad’ Kanoff to Los Angeles for Luis Perez. The trade raised a lot of eyebrows in XFL circles. Kanoff was running fourth at Quarterback for New York in camp. Luis Perez was LA’s assigned QB back in October. The situation for Perez in LA changed a month later when Josh Johnson made his way from the NFL to the Wildcats.

The trade has people questioning the motivations of both parties involved. On the New York side of things, Is the team hedging their bets on their projected starter McGloin, or their projected backup Marquise Williams?  Perez is coming on board with New York, late in the process of season preparation. Head Coach Kevin Gilbride has a history of crowded quarterback rooms. How he and the New York staff handle the position in the coming weeks should be fascinating to watch.

The New York Guardians pulled off another trade on Monday night. This time, they were partaking in a unique three-team trade. The DC Defenders added Guard Kahlil McKenzie to their active list and then shipped him to Los Angeles. The Wildcats sent Guard Damien Mama to New York. To complete the trade, Safety Shamarko Thomas, who the Guardians had the rights to, was sent to DC.

Damien Mama is the third offensive lineman that New York has added in less than a week. Seven offensive linemen that the Guardians drafted in October are no longer on the teams’ active roster. Three of the team’s top five selections in Phase 2 of the O-Line draft are out. (Cyrus Koandjio, Parker Collins and Zac Kerin). Offensive Tackle Jarron Jones seems locked into a starting job. He was New York’s top pick. Center Ian Silberman has returned from injury to solidify the pivot. The other three starting spots are all up for grabs.

ROSTER CUTS/PROJECTIONS

The Guardians will be paring down their roster from 70 to 52 over the course of the next few days. The official 52 player list will not be made public until Monday.

There will be so many moving parts, between now and the start of the season. At this point, you can’t rule out more trades or even new acquisitions. All eight XFL teams are fine-tuning their teams even with the regular-season looming on the horizon.

At the risk of looking foolish, I am going to project the Guardians 52 player roster. Similar to NFL cutdown day, there will be surprise cuts. The waiver process could produce new players that are not currently on the New York roster.

Offense: (25)

Quarterbacks: Matt McGloin, Marquise Williams, and Luis Perez (3)

  • I wouldn’t rule out a trade. The Guardians have three capable starters in house. Garrett Fugate has had some excellent moments during camp and has a live arm. He’s a candidate for Team-Nine if he doesn’t sneak on the roster.

Running Backs: Tim Cook, Darius Victor, Justin Stockton, and Matthew Colburn (4)

  • Cook and Victor are two bowling ball type bruisers. Colburn can do a little bit of everything. Stockton is fast and provides an excellent contrast to the power runners on the team.

Wide Receivers: DeAngelo Yancey, Mekale McKay, Tanner Gentry,
Teo Redding, Colby Pearson, Bernard Reedy, and Justice Liggins (7)

  • The Guardians could keep eight receivers. They recently added Austin Duke and Darius Prince. New York also traded for Joe Horn Jr. Reedy is the most accomplished returner at the receiver position, but if New York’s staff feels that one of their younger receivers can handle the role. Reedy could be out.

Tight Ends: EJ Bibbs, Jake Powell, and Jake Sutherland. (3)

  • The lack of a traditional fullback could see New York retain four at this position. It would come at the expense of another area.

Offensive Line: Jarron Jones, Ian Silberman, John Kling, Avery Young, Damien Mama, Dejon Allen, Anthony Coyle, and Garrett Brumfield (8)

  • The ability to play multiple positions could aid a few players in sticking to the roster and help the coaching staff in activating players on game day.

Defense: (24)

Defensive Line: TJ Barnes, Joey Mbu, Bunmi Rotini, Jarrell Owens, Victor Ochi, Rykeem Yates, and Cavon Walker (7)

  • There will be some good players left off this roster. Rotini and Owens have star potential as edge rushers. Yates and Walker are tweener DE/DT’s. Barnes and Mbu are big-time space eaters inside.

Linebackers: Ben Heeney, D’Juan Hines, Nick DeLuca, Frank Ginda, Ryan Mueller, Darnell Leslie, and Jawaun Johnson (7)

  • The XFL rules may dictate that defenses play more nickel and dime sets in the XFL. As a result, the Guardians may decide to keep fewer linebackers on their roster.

Defensive Backs: Jamar Summers, Terrence Alexander, Dravon Askew-Henry, Demetrious Cox, DeJuan Neal, Bryce Jones, Andrew Soroh,
AJ Hendy, Ranthony Texada, and Tre Mathis (10)

  • You could make the argument for all twelve Guardians defensive backs making the roster. The numbers game is a factor. Traditionally, a team will keep six corners and four safeties. New York’s front office knocked this position out of the park. Many of these players may not be household names, but they will be by seasons end.

Special Teams: (3)

Kicker: Matthew McCrane
Punter: Justin Vogel
Long Snapper: Scott Daly

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s been a long road to get to this point. The regular season is almost upon us. Sometimes, the most exciting things in life are the unknown. In a first-year league, you don’t have the luxury of years past, to define what a team is like. All eight XFL franchises are trying to forge brand new identities. The games themselves will determine each team’s personality. Two weeks from this Sunday, the New York Guardians’ football team is called on duty.

Guardians Training Camp

Credit: XFL.com

Mike Mitchell is a freelance sports writer, analyst, and a general lover of all football. Mike was one of the original XFLBoard.com Team Reporters in 2001, reporting on the New York/New Jersey Hitmen. We have welcomed him back to the XFLBoard and love his ongoing insightful contributions.

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