XFL players have completed their first training camp in Houston after spending three weeks battling together to earn a spot on the roster. Coaches are now heading home to make some tough decisions as they have to go through their rosters and trim it down from 70 players to 52 by Monday, January 27th at 12:00 pm EST.
This first camp produced several interesting storylines that evolved after and before it started. Here is a recap of the biggest stories that the XFL had in three weeks of action.
Landry Jones Injured, Philip Nelson Takes Over
The first major news to come out of training camp was Dallas Renegades quarterback Landry Jones injuring his knee in the first week of camp. It was reported by the team that he would be out for 4-6 weeks as he rehabs the knee. Renegades Head Coach/General Manager Bob Stoops has told media outlets that it is unknown whether Jones will be ready for the opener against the St. Louis Battlehawks on February 9th.
Coming in to replace him: Philip Nelson. The former East Carolina and San Diego Fleet of the AAF star steps into the role as he is all familiar to coming in as the backup. Last season with the Fleet, he replaced Mike Bercovici after he struggled in their first game and started the rest of the season until the league folded. Nelson has shown a great understanding of the offense and an accurate deep ball in camp. Nelson should make fans feel at ease should he be forced into action week one.
Quarterback Battles Around the League
There have been several quarterback battles going on around the league as we saw one of them come to an end. The LA Wildcats decided to trade Luis Perez and all signs seem to point at NFL journeyman Josh Johnson to start. Despite this one being all but over, there are other quarterback jobs up for grabs.
St. Louis BattleHawks Quarterback Battle
The St. Louis BattleHawks have the most crowded position battle as three players fight for one spot as signal caller. Jordan Ta’Amu, Taylor Heinicke, and Brogan Roback all seem to be in the running for the job. While former Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was signed late in camp, it’s hard to believe he will be in the running as he is behind on the knowledge of the offense. Ta’Amu adds mobility to the job and displays a nice arm. Roback has been a great personality for the team and has come on of late to make the battle interesting. Heinicke is at his best in the pocket, but his six foot one inch frame is a concern. There’s no telling who will win job, but head coach/general manager Jonathan Hayes and his offensive staff will have a lot to discuss.
Seattle Dragons Quarterback Battle
The Seattle Dragons had built up quarterback Brandon Silvers to be the leader and star on the team. Former USF start quarterback B.J. Daniels has definitely made things interesting. Both quarterbacks have very different styles of play. Daniels is a great athlete who will be able to use his mobility to force defenses to put a spy on him with less in coverage. Silvers has great pocket presence with great accuracy on low to mid range passes. Head coach/general manager Jim Zorn is in a pickle to decide who to choose, but regardless of who starts, don’t be surprised if Daniels still gets into the game with the double forward pass in the rulebook.
Houston Roughnecks Quarterback Battle
While training camp was in Houston, their Roughnecks were putting quarterbacks Phillip Walker and Connor Cook to the test. Both quarterbacks seem to be neck-to-neck in the competition as both have great arms. Cooks displays great accuracy and Walker doesn’t always show it, he can use his legs. News from camp has been Walker has been impressing the coaching staff. This is making it harder for the coaches to decide, but this will be a decision they can’t make yet. More practice time the next two weeks should help give them time to make a decision.
Suspended NFL Receiver Antonio Callaway Joins Tampa Bay
Character issues have been the story of Antonio Callaway’s young football career. Callaway was accused of allegedly sexually assaulting a woman at the University of Florida, but was cleared. Issues arose again in the NFL when Callaway was suspended for most of the 2019 and the beginning of the 2020 season for violating the substance abuse policy. The Cleveland Browns cut the former fourth round pick back in November.
The Tampa Bay Vipers signed him to potentially start at receiver for the team this season. He instantly becomes one of the biggest names and top potential talents in the league with his blazing speed. He will make for a nice deep threat for quarterback Aaron Murray in head coach/general manager Marc Trestman’s offense. The league hopes Callaway will work through his character issues this season.
Luis Perez Traded to New York Guardians
One of the biggest trades of the young season came towards the last week of training camp when the XFL announced that LA Wildcats Tier One quarterback Luis Perez was traded to the New York Guardians for quarterback Charles Kanoff. This came as a surprise to fans that figured he might be the starter for the Wildcats, but news had been circulating in XFL circles that former NFL veteran Josh Johnson had been running away with the job.
What does this mean for Perez in New York? Matt McGloin is likely start for the Guardians in week one, but this could be a chance for Perez to develop and improve his craft with an offensive minded coach in head coach/general manager Kevin Gilbride. He will also be insurance in the situation that McGloin struggles and have a quarterback who has started in the past year with the Birmingham Iron of the AAF.
Receiver Rashad Ross Traded to DC Defenders
A trade that surprised many XFL fans came in when the LA Wildcats decided to send Rashad Ross to DC for receiver Tre McBride. Both receivers are considered to be two of the top ten receivers in the XFL, but Ross is a difference maker. He is the most dangerous deep threat in the league and a different offense is what he needs. Ross going to DC makes more sense. DC quarterback Cardale Jones has a rocket arm and the Defenders were lacking a deep threat so the Jones-Ross combination should be a fun one to watch.
PFT Commenter Tries Out for Defenders
Fans saw this as a publicity stunt when Barstool’s PFT Commenter tried out for kicker for the Defenders. Maybe it was, but once he started making kicks, he silenced the critics a bit. PFT had to make five kicks at different spots in front of head coach/general manager Pep Hamilton. He was able to convert three of five field goals. He announced on Thursday that he didn’t make the team. Despite not making the team, a future in kicking could be seen for PFT.
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