The long-awaited XFL minicamps came and went in what seemed to be a blink of an eye. The New York Guardians had their camps starting on December 3rd until December 20th. With most of the hard work being done between the 4th and 19th.
This was an exciting time as it was the first time many of the coaches had actually met these players face to face. It was also exciting for the players, many of whom have not met each other before, while for others it was a reunion from prior teams. For this new team, it was truly a time to remember.
Like every other team, the first official day of camp featured the uniform reveal. The XFL uniforms were revealed to the players by Matt McGloin and Deangelo Yancey modeling them in the meeting room for the team. The uniforms were very well received by players and fans alike.
The second day of camp is when the real work began. It was the first time players did lifting and drills. The players really got to get a feel for the players in their position groups who they will really work with. Soon thereafter, the team started putting their actual playbook into motion.
Guardians Offensive Line
On the offensive side there as some sadness when Cyrus Kouandjo failed his physical and was not able to participate with the league and was let go. Arie Kouandjo, Cyrus’s brother, was later released by the team. Many thought these drafted players would be starters on the line and this puts the line into flex. Ian Silberman was not on the roster for most of the camp as he was with an NFL practice squad. He rejoined the roster near the very end of camp following his release from the NFL and he signed his contract.
The Guardians have also cut former NFL starter Zac Kerin and Adrien Bellard. High ceiling prospect Jordan Agasiva joined shortly after camp as did Brant Weiss. Due to all this turnover, the Offensive line will need to get a lot of work in when the main pre-season camp begins as there will be some starting spots on the line and they will need to get their team work together at the same time. The standouts who did make it through camp was Center Parker Collins, who was taking first-team reps most of the time. His quick footwork was quite impressive.
The Quarterbacks put forth the work that was expected of them. Matt McGloin, Marquis Williams leads the way with Garrett Fugate doing everything he could to keep himself with the team. Coach Kevin Gilbride stated he does not want to bring in too many QBs and also seemed very comfortable with the players he had. McGloin took the lead, as was hoped out of the projected starting QB, and made himself a clear leader and captain on the team.
The Wide Receiver is proving to be stacked. Deangelo Yancey, Mekale McCay, and Tanner Gentry, the top 3 WR selected proved to be worth their picks making strong plays in practice. EJ Bibbs the top tight end also showed his athleticism and receiving prowess when not showing off his gymnastic ability with backflips.
Colby Pearson and Damon Sheehy-Giuseppi also looked very strong from the wideout position, with the latter expected to be a special teams contributor also. 4 other receivers were just added to the roster after camp, which will make competition for a final couple of receiver spots very hot come January for what may be the best position group. After Bibbs, the remaining tight end spots are totally up for grabs and too close to call at this point.
The Running Backs also looked very strong. Justin Stockton showed very impressive speed and explosive ability, reminding everyone of his 4.3 forty runs. Tim Cook looks set to be the cowbell back for this team as he shows power coming out of the backfield. Darius Victor also looked strong out there, and not just in his videos of pulling vehicles for exercise.
The Defensive Backs were every bit as impressive as their WR counterparts and look like they will want to compete for the best defensive secondary in the league. This is highly important in a league that is expected to very pass-heavy. Jamar Summers and David Rivers looked very strong. Safety AJ Hendy probably did the most in terms of elevating his status from before camp began as he was all over the ball in practice with an impressive pick 6. Coaches also talked highly of Terrance Alexander’s football IQ when playing out there.
The Defensive Line looks very strong up the middle with Joey Mbu being very impressive and looking game ready. Victor Ochi looked strong on the edge. the Guardians are still looking for more speed on the edge though and to that end brought in Vanderbilt star, Charles Wright ager mini-camp ended.
The linebacker corps looks very strong. The team also has a number of safeties who are more LB/Safety hybrids who can also help out in the run-stuffing positions. Nick Deluca looked strong and was recognized for his effort. Ben Heeney is the clear leader of the group and is expected to be one of the guys with the defensive headset when the year begins.
Ryan Mueller, who is listed as an LB, has professional experience at FB and with no other FB on the roster, may need to switch to the offense to handle that job.
There was no big news out of the kicking game, which is a good thing as all the specialists seemed to practice and kick well enough for the coaches at this point.
In addition to the players, the team had some wonderful events during the mini-camp. This included the December 14th open practice that was held at West Point, in which fans had a wonderful time with many of the coaching staff and team shaking hands and taking photos with their season ticket holders who came out. The Meet your seat even on December 17th was also well attended, despite the poor weather that day.
The minicamp is in the books and it went as fast as it came. It is time for everyone to get ready for the work in January which will finally answer the question of who will make the final roster and how the offensive line and tight ends will shake out. One thing is for sure, all the players will be playing for the love of football.
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