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Panic, at their age? No way
Storm try to remain upbeat despite poor start
By DAVID MURPHY
Published April 5, 2007
Throughout its winless start to this 2007 season, the mood among the 20 players on the Storm roster has remained surprisingly upbeat. The word "playoffs" still gets mentioned in conversations about the team's 0-5 record, and the finger-pointing and huffiness that often envelopes teams in turmoil is nowhere to be found. The reason, the Storm will tell you, is the number of experienced players on the team. Though some have criticized them for being over the hill, the veterans think they are better suited to deal with adversity.
"The Internet wants to bash us about being an old team, but that's the point. We all know how the game goes," said lineman Marcus Owen, a sixth-year player who signed in the offseason. "We know you can always go on a run, you can turn around and win seven in a row. It's experience."
Top to bottom, the Storm is the oldest team in the Southern Division, with an average age of 30. It also has the most combined years of Arena Football League experience with 94.
A few of the team's older players, namely offensive lineman Rod Williams and defensive lineman Nyle Wiren, have seen their roles diminish this season. Others such as Lawrence Samuels (39 catches, 367 yards, two touchdowns) have continued to produce.
"We're vets," Owen said. "We know how the game goes."
OLD GET OLDER: Former NFL All-Pro tackle Lincoln Kennedy has practiced twice this week, giving the Storm four players with at least three years of NFL experience. Defensive lineman Mark Word played three seasons with the Chiefs and Browns, recording eight sacks in 2002. Quarterback Stoney Case played six seasons for the Cardinals, Ravens and Lions. Wide receiver Karl Williams was a special teams fixture for the Bucs for eight years. But Kennedy trumps them all. Listed at 6 feet 7, 350 pounds, the mammoth tackle played 11 seasons with the Falcons and Raiders before retiring in 2004.
Kennedy had some trouble at practice Wednesday, sitting down for 15 minutes after feeling dizzy from the heat. But he returned at the end of practice, working on the right side of the first-team offensive line.
"It's a lot warmer than it's been for me in a number of years," said Kennedy, who has spent the past three years pursuing a career in television and radio.
Luckily, he'll be playing indoors.
STORM DEBRIS: Case drew a rave review from coach Tim Marcum for his performance in the loss to San Jose on Saturday, and he looked sharp in practice Wednesday, moving the first-team offense with precision. ... One area where the Storm has played well this season? The running game. It is second in the AFL with 14 rushing touchdowns, and ranks fifth with 29.0 yards per game. ... The beleaguered Storm secondary will get another test this week against New Orleans, which features longtime Arena League quarterback Andy Kelly, who has thrown 26 touchdowns against four interceptions and is completing nearly 66 percent of his passes.