3 Dragons players to watch in Week 6
SEATTLE -- The Dragons are back at home this weekend after two consecutive road games. The battles with St. Louis and Houston were close, but unfortunately, the Dragons did not walk away with a win in either matchup. It’s been a tough stretch since their last win in Week 2 against Tampa Bay, but this team doesn’t seem to have any quit in it.
“I think once we get back and look at the film, we will see that if a couple things go another way, we win this game and this is one of the top teams in the league,” running back Kenneth Farrow said after the loss to Houston. “So there’s no down spirits. There’s no negativity or anything like that going on in the locker room. We play both teams that we lost to again so, let’s just get back to work when we get back to Seattle and come out with a win.”
Here are some players to watch for as the Dragons get back to work against the L.A. Wildcats (2-3) on Sunday (4 p.m. PT, ESPN2).
1. S Jordan Martin
The 6-4, 204-pound safety transferred to Syracuse from Toledo as a graduate student his senior year. He started in 19 games between the two schools, playing both cornerback and safety and totaled 99 tackles and 14 pass breakups.
Martin spent time with the San Diego Fleet and the Minnesota Vikings before signing with the Seattle Dragons. He had his biggest game of the season Saturday, with eight tackles, two passes defended and one jaw dropping interception of Roughnecks quarterback P.J. Walker. Did he realize at the time that he had made such an incredibly athletic play?
“In the moment it just felt like a regular play,” Martin said after Wednesday’s practice. “The ball was in the air for a pretty long time and I just take pride in myself that if it’s up there for a long time I’ve got to grab it. I didn’t notice until I saw it on the screen and I was like, 'Oh wow, that was pretty sweet.'”
Another area where Martin shines is with his gameday fashion, but so does his fellow ‘player to watch,’ Jacquies Smith. So, who wins best dressed?
“Of course I’ve got to give it to myself,” Martin said. “Jacquies, he’s swaggy though. I’m excited to see him every Saturday or Sunday when we get on the plane, but I think I’ve been edging him out so far.”
2. DE Jacquies Smith
This 6-3, 253-pound defensive end standout from Missouri saw some significant playing time in the NFL, starting 18 games during his time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He recorded 13.5 sacks, 43 tackles and four forced fumbles during his NFL tenure.
He suffered an Achilles injury in Nov. 2018 while with the Oakland Raiders and was drafted by the Dragons less than a year later. Smith made things hard on Walker in Saturday’s game, with a strip sack (which he recovered), two tackles and a quarterback hit. When coach Jim Zorn was asked about the pressure Smith was able to get against a quarterback that has been very elusive so far this season, he was excited about it.
“He played really well,” Zorn said. “I think we have pretty good book end defensive ends. He’s smart, he’s intense, he likes to play and he really came in and did a great job. Stansly Maponga did also. He got an early hit, but Jacquies was there as well. I think they complement each other.”
Smith wasn’t available after practice Wednesday, so we will have to wait for his response to Martin naming himself the best-dressed player on gameday.
3. WR John Santiago
The 5-9, 170-pound Dragons wide receiver accepted the only Division I offer he had and attended UND for college, where he proved to be a well-rounded offensive weapon. As a running back and return specialist, he racked up 6,567 all-purpose yards and 32 touchdowns.
Santiago attended rookie minicamps with the Falcons and Vikings, but ended up heading to the CFL to sign with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Now, he is back to excelling as a returner for the Dragons. He leads the XFL in total return yards with 440 at the halfway mark of the season.
Zorn likes what he's seen from Santiago in the return game so far. “
You can feel the grit and intensity in the effort that he’s putting on the field,” Zorn said. “He’s a pretty reliable kid, and I’m trying to get him more active within our offense as well. I love what’s he’s doing. He wants to be better and I think each and every day he comes out here and tries to be better.”
Maura Dooley is the Dragons Insider and sideline reporter for 710 ESPN Seattle and she contributes to a weekly Dragons podcast.