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Dallas presents early powerhouse challenge for Storm
By the time Tom Briggs landed in Dallas in 2002, he was well aware of the whimsical nature of the Arena Football League.
By DAVID MURPHY
Published March 8, 2007
By the time Tom Briggs landed in Dallas in 2002, he was well aware of the whimsical nature of the Arena Football League. In 2000, the third-year lineman and his original AFL team were uprooted and moved from Portland to Oklahoma City.
Two years later, the franchise folded.
But when Briggs signed with the expansion Dallas Desperados, whom the Storm faces Saturday, he joined a team that seemed destined for success.
"When I was there the first couple of years," said Briggs, now a pass-rushing defensive end for the Storm, "they were going in that direction."
Now, it appears, they have arrived.
With a 60-7 drubbing of New York last weekend that was one of the most lopsided games in league history, Dallas forced the rest of the league to ponder its first chicken-and-egg question of the 2007 season: Are the Desperados that good? Or are the Dragons that bad?
The consensus at Storm practice? A little of both.
New York, without starting quarterback Aaron Garcia, had five turnovers.
Still, nobody is underestimating Dallas, which tied an AFL record with 13 wins last season and is an ArenaBowl favorite.
"Right now," Storm coach Tim Marcum said, "the announcers have pretty much given them the ... trophy."
FINDING LAWRENCE: If the Storm is to have a chance against Dallas, it will probably have to make more use of receiver Lawrence Samuels, who caught just four passes for 30 yards against the Predators. At 6 feet 2, 210 pounds, the 14-year pro is a strong possession receiver who is a major asset in third-down and scoring situations.
Against the Predators, the Storm struggled inside the 10.
"If we don't get the ball to Lawrence down in the positive yards territory, then we're doing ourselves an injustice, because that's where he's good," Marcum said.
CHANGES COMING: Marcum said there would likely be some changes in the starting lineup. The offensive line, which struggled at times to protect quarterback John Kaleo, is one area that could be addressed.
STORM DEBRIS: Former Florida kicker Matt Leach practiced for the first time Tuesday, showing good distance on his kickoffs. Leach replaces Bill Gramatica, who was waived Tuesday. The last time Leach kicked in a game? The 2005 Gridiron Classic All-Star Game. ... Briggs says the ACL/MCL tear he suffered midway through last season while with the Austin Wranglers is healed.