Impact of Antonio Callaway Injury for Vipers

Wide Receiver Antonio Callaway working out for Tampa Bay Vipers during practice (Octavio Jones/Tampa Bay Times).

The Tampa Bay Vipers got some tough news when it was announced that wide receiver Antonio Callaway got injured in practice. Callaway suffered what is being called a lower leg injury in practice Wednesday. He was carted off the field after he suffered the injury. Callaway was placed on injured reserve with his timetable to return unknown.

“The doctors haven’t looked at him yet, so we’re going to hold off on any injury report,” Tampa Bay Vipers head coach Marc Trestman said following Wednesday’s practice.

Despite getting a late start to learning the offense, Callaway made an impression on the team quickly. His speed and big-play ability made him one of their most dangerous weapons on offense. Callaway was known for making big plays at the University of Florida. It was his off the field issues that made him drop in the draft.

Callaway struggled with the Cleveland Browns in terms of staying out of trouble. He was suspended for violating the substance abuse policy in 2019. Callaway was also facing suspension during the beginning of the 2020 NFL season. He was cut for that as well as being late to meetings and practices. That hasn’t been the case since he joined the Vipers.

“I think everybody knows he’s a talented guy as a returner, as a receiver,” Trestman said. “He comes in here humble, focused. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him, and we’re hopeful he’s going to be healthy and have a chance to move forward and get his time in.”

What now for the Vipers?

Callaway getting hurt no doubt hurts the offense and what they will do, but there is still plenty of talent on offense. Running back De’Veon Smith played well in the AAF with the Orlando Apollos where he was one of the leading rushers in the league. Mack Brown provides a tough runner to slam the middle of the line. Trestman should run the ball often.

The receivers are still talented despite losing Callaway. Daniel Williams impressed in the scrimmage against the New York Guardians. His big body frame should make him an easy goal-line target. Stacy Coley was traded from the Dallas Renegades to give the Vipers more speed at receiver. Seantavius Jones is another big receiver who can make the tough catches.

Callaways’ future in the XFL and NFL?

It’s a tough break for a young man who seemed to be back on the right track. Callaway has too much talent to not play football. Fans will be seeing more of Callaway whether that’s in the XFL or back in the NFL. The extent of his injury is still unknown so we will see if he returns this season or if he is ready to play on an NFL team during training camp.

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