Minicamp Recap: Dallas Renegades
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The trailer has been packed and sent to Houston. The players and coaches have started their journeys home for the holiday break. Construction crews are working around the clock at Globe Life Park in anticipation of the Dallas Renegades' home opener on Feb. 9 against the St. Louis BattleHawks.
With XFL training camp two weeks away, now is as good a time as ever to recap everything that happened at minicamp in Arlington, and see where the team currently stands before the pads get put on and the real football work begins.
Minicamp opened with 70 players from all over the country, all of them hand-picked by head coach Bob Stoops, Director of Player Personnel Daryl Johnston and the Renegades' coaching staff. It closed with a few roster moves, the team's first trade and a perfect final practice.
Quarterbacks: Landry Jones has completely looked the part of franchise QB in minicamp, directing the offense with expert efficiency and showing every bit of leadership expected from his elevated status. Philip Nelson has been a strong backup, and Jones has been pleased with the work he's putting in. The team doesn't officially have a third quarterback, but it should come as no surprise that Jerrod Heard, who played the position in high school and college, has kept his arm loose and thrown a few routes in multiple practices.
Running Backs: Position coach Bobby Blizzard has been open about how deep this group is. Cameron Artis-Payne and and H-back Dimitri Flowers both have a level of physicality that will be rare at this level. Lance Dunbar is versatile and experienced, and Marquis Young and Darnell Holland both have low centers of gravity and great bursts.
Wide Receivers: Speed. Speed. Speed. The Dallas XFL draft strategy became clear quickly in the Phase 1 portion of the draft as pick after pick came with their own jetpacks. Jeff Badet, the team's top selection, is not just blazing fast, but incredibly agile. His ability to cut tight turns around defenders was on display the last two weeks. Floyd Allen and Stacy Coley are right there with Badet. You'd be hard pressed to count the number of drops by Flynn Nagel and Heard on more than one hand, and Jones has nice outside targets in Jazz Ferguson, Joshua Crockett, Carl Whitley and Simmie Cobbs Jr.
Tight Ends: Dallas boasts one of the tallest players in the league in 6-foot-8-inch Donald Parham, and he's proving to be a useful target at the back of the endzone and over the top of coverage in 7-on-7 drills. Sean Price caught 76 passes during his college career at South Florida, and Romello Brooker caught 33 passes in his senior season at Houston. Both have produced some acrobatic grabs around boundary lines during practices.
Offensive Line: Perhaps no offensive unit is harder to get a feel for without full contact, but Willie Beavers and Pace Murphy look like imposing bookends at the tackle position. They've got similarly monolithic company in Darius James and Patrick Lawrence. Alex Balducci has been a center by trade, but he's been getting reps at guard along with Maea Teuhema, Josh Allen, Justin Evans, and Salesi Uhatafe. Maurquice Shakir and Oni Omoile have seen time at center.
Defensive Line: It's a battle between the defensive line and the defensive backs for the most animated units on the field, but with characters like Nick James, we're leaning slightly toward the big guys. The range of talent and experience in this group is impressive, with veteran and former Oklahoma standout Frank Alexander, Richard Ash, Tyrell Thompson, Winston Craig and Gelen Robinson at defensive end. On the interior, James is joined by Izaah Burks Sr., Tony Guerad and Deon Simon as defensive tackles.
Outside Linebackers: There's an interesting mix of size and speed in this group. Hau'oli Kikaha, Jonathan Massaquoi, and Johnathan Calvin all come in at around 250 pounds or heavier, while James Folston, Tobenna Okeke and Gerald Rivers are a little lighter in the 230-249 pound range.
Inside Linebackers: Tre Watson, Tegray Scales, Greer Martini, Asantay Brown and Ray Ray Davison make up this quick, strong group, and the Renegades added Markus Jones in a trade for receiver Keith Mumphery with St. Louis at the conclusion of minicamp.
Cornerbacks: Treston Decoud and Josh Hawkins have been standouts, but this is a competitive and animated group with Josh Thornton, Jamal Peters, Donatello Brown and Dashaun Phillips.
Safeties: Derron Smith was a priority pick for the Renegades in the XFL draft, and he leads a very smart, aggressive group. Tenny Adewusi, Micah Abernathy, Marwin Evans, Ryan Moeller and Doyin Jibowu have all had big moments in camp.
Special Teams: Longsnapper Owen Gilbert was a late addition to camp, but he joins punter Drew Galitz and kicker Austin MacGinnis, who have made nice adjustments to the new XFL rules the team has been testing out in practice.
Catch the highlights from every minicamp: