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Week 1 Preview: Seattle Dragons at DC Defenders

DC Defenders quarterback Cardale Jones

Cardale Jones' DC Defenders host the Seattle Dragons in the XFL's first game of the 2020 season.

Seattle Dragons vs. DC Defenders

  • Sat. Feb. 8, 2 p.m. ET (ABC)
  • Audi Field (Washington, D.C.)

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Rosters: Seattle | DC

Depth Chart: Seattle | DC

Injury Report

Week 1: Dragons at Defenders

HEAD COACHES

Seattle: Jim Zorn

  • Twenty-five years of coaching experience (including 19 as a QB coach and 2 as NFL head coach)
  • Head coach, Washington Redskins (2008-2009)
  • Named AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year (1976) and second-team All-Pro (1978)

DC: Pep Hamilton

  • Twenty-one years of coaching experience, including NFL roles with the Baltimore Ravens (2002), New York Jets (2003-2005), San Francisco 49ers (2006), Chicago Bears (2007-2009), Indianapolis Colts (2013-2015) and Cleveland Browns (2016).
  • Assistant head coach: Browns (2016), University of Michigan (2017-2019)
  • Offensive coordinator: Stanford (2011-2012), Colts (2013-2015)

QUOTABLE

“A guy like that doesn’t necessarily have to scramble outside the pocket.  He’ll move around to find a soft spot.  He’ll buy time inside the pocket. His game is inside that pocket. Doesn’t mean he can’t run…but he’d probably rather play from inside and get the ball out.” 

Seattle Dragons head coach Jim Zorn on DC QB Cardale Jones

“We have a hardworking group and we feel like we have a talented group. But it's not until you get out and play a game as a unit that you truly find out what your identity is as a team, and that is what Saturday means to us.”

Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton

QUARTERBACKS

Dragons: Brandon Silvers

What You’ll See: A gunslinging, strong-armed quarterback, Brandon Silvers is an aggressive downfield and perimeter passer who, once he gets hot, can lead his offense with explosive upside. The live arm passer can be streaky, but his accuracy in the seam and vertically could lead to a stream of big plays.

Defenders: Cardale Jones

What You’ll See: Talent has never been an issue for Cardale Jones, as the 6-foot-5 strong-armed, athletic threat can create inside and outside the pocket. With a natural release and the ability to drive the ball all over the field, Jones can manage an offense downfield with quick, decisive throws, and then attack downfield at a moment’s notice to one of DC’s many vertical weapons.

MORE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Dragons

WR/KR Keenan Reynolds: The former Seahawk is right at home in Seattle. And as a former QB at Navy, the double-forward pass might be right up his alley.

LB Steven Johnson: What kind of athlete is he? Well, he lifts with the O-line and runs with the DBs. The one-time Bronco is already a defensive leader.

Defenders

WR Rashad Ross: Familiar with the nation’s capital after a stint with the Redskins. This deep threat terrorized AAF secondaries, leading the defunct league in TDs.

DT Tracy Sprinkle: Captain on Ohio State’s 2015 National Championship team made a couple of NFL stops before making a splash in the AAF with 5 sacks for Atlanta.

NEED TO KNOW

The Dragons and Defenders both sport quarterback-guru head coaches. Seattle’s Jim Zorn played the position before coaching it for years in the NFL. However, the Dragons may lean on the run … and would you blame them with a stable of backs that includes Ja’Quan Gardner, Trey Williams and Kenneth Farrow?

DC’s Pep Hamilton, who famously coached Andrew Luck in college and the NFL, takes on the challenge of Cardale Jones. The Defenders could also be more adept moving the ball on the ground with the varied backfield skillsets of AAF-leading rusher Jhurell Pressley, bruiser Nick Brossette and speedy Donnel Pumphrey.

-- Art Garcia, XFL.com