Week 3: Defenders at Wildcats
The DC Defenders (2-0) hit the road for the very first time, traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Wildcats (0-2) in Week 3 on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. ET (FS1).
Just one of two remaining unbeaten teams, along with the Houston Roughnecks, the DC Defenders will look to continue their defensive dominance after a shutout performance against the New York Guardians (27-0) in Week 2. That victory saw the Defenders score their second defensive touchdown in as many games, thanks to a Jameer Thurman pick-six in the third quarter.
The Wildcats enter Week 3 still looking for their first victory. Their offense looked much improved in Week 2 thanks to the return of longtime NFL journeyman Josh Johnson.
Defense tends to travel more than offense, and DC has made its living on defense thus far. The Defenders will need to produce at least one turnover in California if they want to return home 3-0.
MORE: Defenders Bar Network
DEFENDERS VS. WILDCATS PREVIEW
Matchup: DC Defenders (2-0) vs. LA Wildcats (0-2)
Game Location: Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, Calif. (27,000)
Date & Time: Sunday, February 23 at 6 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FS1
TV Broadcasters: Curt Menafee (Play-by-Play), Greg Olsen (Color Commentary), Jenny Taft (Reporter)
Live Stream: FOX Sports Go (Live Stream)
Radio Station: 106.7 FM The Fan (Live Stream)
Radio Broadcasters: Grant Paulsen (play-by-play), Logan Paulsen (Analyst)
WHAT TO WATCH
1. Going Back to 'Cali
Looking for scintillating storylines? Look no further. Both Anthony Johnson and Rashad Ross will face the Wildcats for the first time since being traded from Los Angeles to DC. Ross was traded during training camp, while Johnson was traded to the Defenders just 24 hours before their Week 2 game.
Both players have made instant impacts in DC, and both players still have bitter tastes in their mouths from their time with the Wildcats.
2. Defensive Hat Trick?
The Defenders have registered a defensive touchdown in each of the first two weeks of the XFL season, the only team to do so. In Week 1, Bradley Sylve, who was traded from D.C. to Los Angeles before Week 2, returned an interception 69 yards for a touchdown. In Week 2, Jameer Thurman picked off Matt McGloin and returned the interception 47 yards for a touchdown. Can the Defenders do it again in Week 3? Wildcats quarterback Josh Johnson has yet to turn the ball over, but the Defenders have made a living doing just that.
3. Road Warriors
Through the first two weeks of the 2020 XFL season, road teams are just 2-8. The St. Louis BattleHawks defeated the Dallas Renegades, 15-9, in Week 1, and the Renegades won at LA, 25-18. While the Wildcats have yet to win a game, the Defenders will have to deal with the distractions of a 2,500-mile trip and time zone change, not to mention the pressure of having a target on their back.
4. Pac-12 Speed
Two of the marquee players in Week 3 are speed-burning wide receivers from the Pac-12. Wildcats WR Nelson Spruce, a former two-time All-Pac-12 Second Team member from Colorado, currently leads the XFL with 192 receiving yards on 17 receptions and two TDs. Just one spot below Spruce is Defenders WR Ross, an Arizona State product who has hauled in six receptions for 147 yards and one touchdown. Spruce and Ross aren't just the two most explosive players in the game, but probably the two most explosive players in the league, and they both are products of "The Conference of Champions."
Passing: Cardale Jones -- 39-for-63, 511 yards, 4 passing TDs, 9 carries for 42 yards
Rushing: Jhurell Presssley -- 23 carries for 63 yards; long of 17; 27 average
Receiving: Rashad Ross -- 6 receptions for 147 yards on 7 targets; long of 40; 1 TD
Defense: Jameer Thurman -- 12 combined tackles, 8 solo tackles. 1 tackle for loss, 1 INT, 1 Def. TD
DC DEFENDERS: PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
QB: #12 Cardale Jones, #3 Tyree Jackson
RB: #24 Donnel Pumphrey, #26 Jhurell Pressley, #32 Khalid Abdullah, #31 Nick Brosette
WR: #19 Malachi Dupre, #1 DeAndre Thompkins, #10 Simmie Cobbs
WR: #15 Rashad Ross, #16 Tyler Palka
WR: #4 Eli Rogers
TE: #86 Khari Lee, #85 Derrick Haward, #80 Donnie Ernsberger
LT: #79 De'Ondre Welsey
LG: 74 Rishard Cook
C: #64 Jon Toth, #77 James O'Hagan
RG: #78 Malcolm Bunche, #75 Chris Brown
RT: #69 Cole Boozer
DE: #93 Tracy Sprinkle, #91 Tavaris Barnes, #90 Peli Anau
DT: #96 Jay Bromley, #95 Kenny Bigelow Jr.
NT: #92 Elijah Qualls, #94 Kalani Vakameilalo
SLB: #55 Antwione Williams, #54 Jonathan Massaquoi
MLB: #59 A.J. Tarpley, #58 Scooby Wright
WLB: #53 Jameer Thurman, #52 Jonathan Celestin
EDGE: #97 Anthony Johnson, #56 KeShun Freeman, #99 Sam Montgomery
CB: #28 Elijah Campbell, #21 Doran Grant
CB: #25 Desmond Lawrence
S: #22 Matt Elam, #29 Tyree Kinnel, #45 Rahim Moore
S: #20 Carlos Merritt, #38 Shamarko Thomas
Special Teams: #2 Tyler Rausa (K), #7 Hunter Niswander (P), #42 Brian Khoury (LS)
DC DEFENDERS: INJURY REPORT
Injured Reserve: WR Frank Brown, CB Deion Harris, WR Deion Holliman, CB Jaylen Myrick
Injury Report: DT Tavaris Barnes (thigh, questionable), WR Malachi Dupre (shoulder, questionable), LB A.J. Tarpley (hand, probable), DT Kalani Vakameilalo (ankle, probable), LB Scooby Wright (knee, probable)
LOS ANGELES WILDCATS: STAT LEADERS
Passing: Josh Johnson -- 18 of 34 for 196 yards, 2 TDs.
Rushing: Elijah Hood -- 22 carries for 74 yards; long of 13.
Receiving: Nelson Spruce -- 17 receptions for 192 yards and 2 TDs on 24 targets; long of 44 yards
Defense: Ahmad Dixon -- 12 combo tackles, 9 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss
LOS ANGELES WILDCATS: PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
QB: #8 Josh Johnson, #2 Jalen McClendon, #4 Marcus McDade
RB: #34 Elijah Hood, #26 DuJuan Jarris, #24 Larry Rose, #28 Martez Carter
WR: #11 Nelson Spruce, #17 Jalen Greene, #10 Kermit Whitfield
WR: #18 Adonis Jennings, #80 Saeed Blacknall
WR: #84 Jordan Smallwood, #15 Tre McBride
TE: #82 Brandon Barnes, #88 De'Quan Hampton
LT: #72 Storm Norton, #74 Tyler Roemer
LG: #59 Fred Lauina
C: #66 Patrick Vahe
RG: #56 Nico Siragusa, #62 Dwayne Wallace
RT: #73 Jaelin Robinson, #75 Lene Maiava
LDE: #91 Boogie Roberts, #98 Devin Taylor
NT: #90 Roderick Henderson, #93 Trevon Sanders
RDE: #99 Latarius Brady
ROLB: #94 Cedric Reed
LOLB: #77 Shawn Oakman
MLB: #52 Tre' Williams, #54 Taiwan Jones
RLB: #57 Will Smith, #5 Quentin Gause
CB: #20 Jaylen Dunlap, #23 Mike Stevens
CB: #33 Arrion Springs, #25 Roman Tatum
S: #29 Jack Tocho, #32 Ladarius Wiley
S: #36 Ahmad Dixon, #21 Mar'Sean Diggs
Special Teams: #7 Shane Tripuika (P), #9 Nick Novak (K), #45 Ryan Navarro (LS)
LOS ANGELES WILDCATS: INJURY REPORT
Injured Reserve: RB Winston Dimel, OG Toa Lobendahn, P Colton Schmidt
On Weekly Injury Report: TE Brandon Barnes (knee, probable), WR Saeed Blacknall (thigh, probable), DB Jerome Couplin (ankle, probable), DB Jaylen Dunlap (thigh, questionable), RB DuJuan Harris (ankle, probable), RB Elijah Hood (ankle, probable), QB Josh Johnson (thigh, questionable), QB Chad Kanoff (head, out), LB Willie Mays (neck, out), WR Tre McBride (thigh, questionable), C Kahlil McKenzie (ankle, out), DB Harlan Miller (thigh, out), LB Will Smith (shoulder, probable), DB Jack Tocho (hip, probable).