Training Camp: The Joy in Different Colors
HOUSTON -- Two teams, one practice.
A lot done.
After a week of team training camps, the Dallas Renegades and Seattle Dragons held a joint practice Saturday at Darrell Tully Stadium.
The skies were overcast, with a chilly wind ripping across the field. For the coaches, the sun was shining and all was right with the world.
“I thought it was outstanding,” Dragons coach Jim Zorn said. “I thought both teams did a wonderful job of playing hard and keeping the tempo up, the pace up and protecting each other. It was live and without a tackle.
“It was fun to work with Bob in our first scrimmage. We were both on the same page about what we wanted to accomplish and how we wanted it to be. We did what we needed to do.”
Renegades coach Bob Stoops welcomed seeing Seattle’s uniforms. More so, what the guys wearing those uniforms did against his squad.
“After six, seven days of working against your own guys all the time, it’s exciting for everybody to go out and go against somebody else, see some different schemes and different players,” he said. “It was great. Both teams really did a good job of keeping each other healthy and not having a bunch of foolish fights, and got a lot of good work in.”
The scripted practice used the entire field, as different units and situations were executed. The teams worked on kickoff and punt returns under the XFL rules unveiled earlier this week. Opposing offensive and defensive lines did drills together.
There were also 7-on-7 sessions before full-team work that included referees. The 25-second play clock was in use, giving the coaching staffs and players a true game simulation of the sped-up pace of play.
“It’s one of the major things that gets accomplished in one of these,” Zorn said. “You get to go against an opponent and see somebody else, and you have to stay with your technique and fundamentals, or it could be a disaster. You had to concentrate. We forced everyone to concentrate based on the design of the practice and they did an outstanding job.”
“It’s one of the major things that gets accomplished in one of these. You get to go against an opponent and see somebody else, and you have to stay with your technique and fundamentals, or it could be a disaster. You had to concentrate."
Zorn took particular interest in the quarterback play, which considering his background makes sense.
“All four quarterbacks -- a two on our side, two on their side -- did well,” the former Seattle Seahawks QB said. “They read and threw well.”
Brandon Silvers and B.J. Daniels are engaged a healthy competition to be the Dragons starting quarterback.
The Renegades temporarily lost starting quarterback Landry Jones (knee) earlier this week. Philip Nelson and recently signed Eric Dungey are handling the position until Jones returns.
“They’re doing good,” Stoops said. “Nelson’s doing really well. Eric Dungey’s come in and in just a few days is really picking things up fast. I feel really good about what they’re doing.”
All eight teams conducted joint practices Saturday across Houston, with the XFL filming the four sessions to share across the league for scouting purposes. In addition to Dallas and Seattle, the other three joint practices included DC/LA (Rice Stadium), Houston/Tampa Bay (TDECU Stadium) and New York/St. Louis (Houston Baptist). Up until this point, the teams were largely flying blind with respect to their opponents.
“Now we’ll be able to go back and look at all this video and get better,” Zorn said. “That’s what we need to do.”
In addition to joint practices, the Opening Weekend matchups (Feb. 8-9) will be played on Jan. 20-21 at TDECU Stadium in lieu of preseason games. There will be plenty of video for the coaches to break down, at least up to a point.
“It’ll all be shared so we’ll have an idea and I’m sure everybody will play it close to the best, but that’s OK,” Stoops said. “Everybody’s got a background and what they like to do."