3 Dragons players to watch in Week 5
SEATTLE -- The Dragons head to Houston this weekend in search of their first win since Week 2 against the Vipers. Currently sitting at 1-3, the team is looking at this as a must-win game.
“That’s what we’re all feeling,” linebacker Steven Johnson said. “I mean, that’s the energy around this organization. We’ve got to win. What more of an opportunity could we have than going against an undefeated Houston team? They do a lot of great things, but we’ve been working hard, we’ve been stressing our technique, so what better week to do it?”
Here are some players to watch for as the Dragons look to take down the undefeated Roughnecks on Saturday (11 a.m. PT, ABC).
1. RB TREY WILLIAMS
This weekend’s game will be a homecoming for the 5-foot-7, 200-pound running back, as the team travels to Houston.
“I’m excited, very excited,” Williams said after Wednesday’s practice. “Just to go back home and see my family, the people that motivate me the most and to be back in that circle.”
Williams was a standout at Dekaney High School in Houston and went on to play three years at Texas A&M, rushing for 1,343 yards and 18 touchdowns. Williams is so elusive, that his NFL draft profile by Lance Zierlein described him as having a “devastating jump-cut that torments defenders in space.”
He spent time with multiple NFL teams before landing with the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF along with fellow Dragons running back Kenneth Farrow. Now, they are again sharing a backfield along with Ja’Quan Gardner in what quarterback Brandon Silvers has referred to as the three-headed monster. The backs have split carries evenly so far, with Williams rushing for 94 yards and adding 44 receiving yards and a touchdown reception.
When asked if he’s excited to put on a show for his family and friends this weekend, he flashed a smile and responded, “Absolutely, love life.”
2. DL Anthony Johnson
This 6-foot-3, 294-pound Dragons defensive end played his college ball at Florida International. He made the switch from defensive end to defensive tackle his junior season, sparking a body transformation that landed him a nickname - “The Gut.”
“I went from maybe 250-260 to about 295 pounds in just a summer, so that’s kind of where the gut came from,” Johnson explained following practice Wednesday.
Was putting on that kind of weight a challenge for him?
“Yes and no,” Johnson said. “It came a lot from beer. It came from drinking a lot of Bud Light and all that stuff, but it wasn’t too hard for me. I think that’s something that coaches like about me and that makes me pretty versatile.”
Johnson has recorded eight tackles and a quarterback hit so far this season and is excited for the challenge of facing the No. 1 offense in the league.
“Their quarterback is versatile,” Johnson noted. “He’s small and shifty, and does a great job of getting out of the pocket and escaping when pressure comes, so we’ve just got to do a good job of collapsing the pocket and getting him off the spot.”
3. CB Channing Stribling
The 6-foot-2, 188-pound cornerback went to Michigan. He compiled 68 tackles, one sack and six interceptions in 47 games (18 starts) and was teammates with his current Dragons roommate Jeremy Clark. The pair are happy to have the chance to play together again.
“We haven’t played together since 2016,” Stribling explained. “He got hurt our senior year so we didn’t really get to finish the season, but it feels great to be back with a familiar face.”
Stribling and Clark also teamed up on an idea for a turnover celebration. Miami has the turnover chain, Oregon State has the turnover chain saw and the Seattle Dragons now have the turnover mask. We first saw the ski mask when Godwin Igwebuike intercepted Landry Jones in the second quarter of the Renegades game, but Stribling added an interception of his own on Dallas’ next offensive possession and it was broken out again.
“We originally wanted to do an umbrella,” Stribling said. “You know its Seattle, its wet so we just wanted to sit on the sidelines casual with an umbrella but he [Clark] kind of just thought that a ski mask would be a little bit different. It just symbolizes that it’s robbing season. We’ve got to take whatever’s ours. If the ball is in the air, it’s always an emphasis to get the ball back for the offense.”
Stribling has 13 tackles and an interception so far this season. He and his defensive teammates had forced six turnovers in the two games prior to last week’s loss to St. Louis, where they weren’t able to snag any. So, they have to be hoping to bring that turnover mask back out in this week in Houston.
Maura Dooley is the Dragons Insider and sideline reporter for 710 ESPN Seattle and she contributes to a weekly Dragons podcast.