Vipers Training Camp: Day 5
HOUSTON -- The clock was ticking at Vipers training camp Thursday, and that's not just a metaphor.
The big red 25-second play clock was counting down during the team's full practice, helping the players and coaches get adjusted to the XFL's fast-paced brand of football.
With the season opener on Feb. 9th -- exactly one month away -- the players are doing everything to make sure they keep pace. That means not only running faster, but communicating faster.
"We gotta make sure everybody's aligned... that's the biggest thing," Tight end Nick Truesdell said. "If somebody's way down the field and they've got to run back, we gotta be aware of that because we've got a short amount of time."
Truesdell says the coach-to-player communication devices will be a big help. The XFL announced that these devices will be in the helmets of all offensive skill position players.
"The equipment is new for all the perimeter guys," Truesdell said. "We're not getting in the huddle so we got make sure we hear everything and get lined up quick."
The time crunch is also putting added pressure on the coaches.
"There's no doubt that the play clock is a concern," Offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo said. "You have to, as a playcaller, go through a number of different scenarios -- where the ball's at, the down and distance, we're in field goal range -- and all those things have to be processed rather quickly. You have to be two or three steps ahead of the game."
"You have to be two or three steps ahead of the game."
The faster clock isn't the only change Elizondo is facing.
The league announced that teams have three options for points-after touchdowns -- a 1-point conversion from the 2-yard line, a 2-point conversion from the 5-yard line, and 3-point conversion from the 10-yard line.
That means the offense needs to draw up three different sets of plays for conversions instead of one.
"It's really like a pyramid," Elizondo said. "You have a little bit more options on the two, fewer options on the five, and you're package has to be tighter on the ten. The plus side of being on the ten is that you have more room to work with."
That proved true Thursday when quarterback Aaron Murray connected with tight end Colin Thompson on a strike right outside the goalline and then Thompson ran it in for three points before capping off the moment with a triumphant spike.
"It's definitely unique," Thompson said about the new conversion system. "It's going to create some trick plays, some fun plays for the offense, because offensive coordinators and all these great players in the league are going to be able to display their abilities in a different way than they have before."
Again, we are now only a month and counting from seeing those plays in action when the Vipers take on the Guardians in New York on February 9th.
Until then, we will continue to bring you Vipers coverage as they prepare for their historic first season.