XFL's final 2020 scrimmages on tap
HOUSTON -- Training camps across the XFL took a break on Sunday, as the eight teams prepared for a set of final scrimmages that will take place over Monday and Tuesday at TDECU Stadium.
The scrimmages will also serve as broadcast rehearsals for the league's television partners, ABC/ESPN and FOX.
The Monday matchups for ABC/ESPN are Seattle vs. DC and St. Louis vs. Dallas. Los Angeles vs. Houston and Tampa Bay vs. New York are Tuesday with FOX crews.
It’s also one last shot for players trying to make teams before final 52-man rosters are due Wednesday.
With minicamps in December and training camps across Houston this month, the evaluation period is quickly coming to a close.
While it may seem like an accelerated process compared to the NFL, every team is in the same boat.
“Coaching in the CFL for seven years, we had to make decisions quickly, so you had a formula and it was much quicker than this. We only had nine days in Canada,” Vipers coach Marc Trestman said. “This gave us a little more time.
“I think we have a good formula for picking our team and putting it together. I think we’re close. Over the next few days there’s going to be a half-dozen spots we’re going to have to discuss more. We’re closer to finding our team, but we won’t know until Tuesday night.”
The XFL rules, designed to generate “more ball and less stall,” will be in full effect Monday and Tuesday.
While this gives the teams a chance to test what they’ve worked on in true game conditions, the essence of football remains the same.
“Everyone is talking about the pace of the game; I still want our guys to be disciplined, I want them to be tough-minded, I want them to play the game with great fundamentals, solid tackling, great blocking, take care of the football,” BattleHawks coach Jonathan Hayes said. “Those things don’t change. I don’t care what kind of clock you put on it. Those things don’t ever change.
“Being accurate with the football, not having drops, that’s still football. The teams that do that the best are going to have the most success. The teams that are least penalized are going to have the most success. I think you have to be aware of it and make sure that your players have a good base so when things start to break down them, they don’t lose sight of what it is we’re trying to get done.”
Starting jobs are also on the line across the league. Though most depth charts have come into focus, time remains to make an impression and win a job.
“You’ve got to take care of yourself first,” Defenders safety Matt Elam said. “Do the small things right, work on your technique and control everything you can control. That will take care of things when you go out and play opponents. It starts with yourself.”
Video from this week’s scrimmages will also be made available to all eight teams, as was the case during joint team practices over the last two Saturdays.
Wildcats coach Winston Moss may be in the minority when it comes to his view on scouting. At least, his view for public consumption when asked how important it was to get a feel for LA’s future opponents.
“That ain’t gonna matter,” he said. “We worried about what we’re doing. We’re not giving a (expletive) about what anybody else is doing.”
What most coaches can agree is the level of commitment from players fighting to earn their way.
“My biggest takeaway is our players love football,” Defenders coach Pep Hamilton said. “They’re out here truly for the love of football. The energy has been great. I think without a doubt that these guys truly appreciate the opportunity they have to continue their football careers.”