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Defenders Training Camp: Day 7

Defenders RB Jhurell Pressley cuts back during joint practice with the Los Angeles Wildcats

HOUSTON -- A gloomy Saturday morning didn't deter the DC Defenders from bringing the intensity with them to Rice Stadium, as the team welcomed the Los Angeles Wildcats for the first joint practice of training camp.

After five practices of intrasquad contact, the Defenders were more than ready to finally hit somebody else, and they did not wait very long.

Every single player with a football helmet on had something to prove to themselves, their coaches or the opposition. There were no fights, but there were plenty of extracurricular activities. 

The physicality was there all practice and has us once again counting down the days to Week 1.


For what seems like the third straight day, one of the most interesting takeaways is just how impactful kickoff returns are going to be.

The return specialists get more room to operate and more clear running lanes thanks to the two teams lining up closer to each other. Rarely was a kick return stopped before the 35-yard line. 

The XFL has made incentivizing special teams a priority, and it is going to pay off in spades.


"Celebrate us. Celebrate us today. Don't forget what we are trying to do. We still have to get something out of this. We have to be fundamentally sound. We have to be violent with our hands. We have to keep our nose in our gaps, and we gotta have fun. More than anything else, we gotta have fun."

Defenders defensive line coach Napoleon Sykes to his players prior to joint practice.


  • WR DeAndre Thompkins: The former Penn State burner was virtually unguardable Saturday. He won nearly all his 1-on-1 battles and made a handful of catches in the full team drills. Wildcats defensive backs were draped all over Thompkins, but he consistently prevailed.
  • RB Nick Brossette: The former LSU tailback joined the team prior to training camp and spent the first week getting up to speed. On Saturday, he hit an extra gear, plowing through the Wildcats' defense on several occasions, including a jarring hit on the near sidelines, the biggest pop of the day.
  • RB Jhurell Pressley: Brossette wasn't the only running back to dish out violence. The hulking Delaware native mowed over his defender on more than one occassion and continues to make good work after the first point of contact.
  • LB Jonathan Celestin: The former Minnesota Golden Gopher has been a model of consistency throughout minicamp and training camp. On Saturday, everyone took notice. He did an excellent job in 1-on-1 skill drills and registered an interception during team drills.
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