|02-15-2007, 11:22 AM||#1|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
House and the Predators
NFL veterans hope to help Preds
Dwayne Carswell and Greg Jefferson bring 17 seasons of NFL experience to Orlando.
SoCals link: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sport...orts-headlines
Greg Jefferson and Dwayne Carswell left football against their will.
Jefferson suffered a serious knee injury in 2000, just before his sixth season with the Philadelphia Eagles. He returned for training camp the following year, only to be one of the last players cut.
In 2005, Carswell was in the middle of his 12th season with the Denver Broncos when a car accident ruptured his spleen and gave him other internal injuries. Last year, the Broncos released him at the end of training camp.
Now, Jefferson and Carswell are trying to make comebacks with the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators. It's not necessarily an easy transition, trying to learn a quicker game, play on a smaller field and adjust to different rules. But it's still football and, perhaps, their last opportunity to return to the NFL.
"I still feel like I've got something left," Jefferson said Tuesday. "I can't say exactly why, but I just felt it was time [to return]."
Jefferson and Carswell were two of the Predators' highest-profile signings this offseason, but the team also added six other NFL veterans with no indoor football league experience: defensive lineman Eddie Freeman, receiver Charles Lee, fullback/linebacker Lance Mitchell, defensive backs Rayshun Reed and Ernest Shazor and defensive lineman Andrew Williams. (Shazor, however, hasn't reported to camp yet -- with no explanation given, a team official said.)
On paper, the signings look like a massive infusion of talent, but Predators Coach Jay Gruden knows that guys with NFL experience aren't always a good fit. It's easy -- in some cases, too easy -- to think of the AFL as a secondary, or minor, league.
"Some of 'em make it, some of 'em don't," Gruden said. "It's a matter of how they pick up the game and if they want to pick up the game and if they're mentally excited to be here. Some of 'em feel like they're better or should be in the NFL. If they want to be here and make this team better, then I'm sure they'll pick it up."
There are major differences, obviously.
NFL players travel to road games in chartered jets. AFL players typically take commercial flights, and sometimes those flights involve stopovers in other cities.
And the training table? Monday's post-practice lunch for the Predators -- served in the Citrus Bowl's press box -- consisted of elbow macaroni with meat sauce, salad and rolls. Not bad, but not exactly an extravagant smorgasbord, either.
For Carswell and Jefferson, who are both 35, it would've been easy to get used to the NFL.
Carswell -- a guard, offensive tackle and tight end in the NFL -- appeared in 163 games and one Pro Bowl and won two Super Bowls with Denver. He's the longest-tenured NFL player in Predators history.
"It's kind of laid-back here," Carswell said. "It's football, but it's two different types of games."
Carswell is followed by Jefferson, a UCF alumnus and defensive end who played in 57 games for the Eagles, and it wasn't easy for him to see many of his former teammates reach Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville.
In the past several years, Jefferson worked in the Orange County school system, most recently teaching American history at Evans High in Orlando.
Now, he's the guy who has to study. He has to learn the AFL game.
"It seems like it's a lot faster," Jefferson said. "The field seems a lot smaller. It seems like you're in a little box, like you're in a telephone booth. It's different seeing three guys on the line."
Predators lineman Charles Hill went through the same adjustment recently. He played in all of the Houston Texans' 16 regular-season games as a rookie in 2002, then bounced around the NFL a little bit before joining the AFL last year.
"It's still a professional league," Hill said. "It's not like you're dropping or you're going against semi-pro guys or anything. More and more people from the NFL are coming to play here.
You can't come out here thinking you're just going to dominate, because you're playing against people who might've played a few years in the league also."
Orlando Predators have seven players in camp who have played in an NFL regular-season game and also are new to professional indoor football.
TE Dwayne Carswell
NFL background: Played in 163 regular-season games for the Denver Broncos, won two Super Bowls and was selected to the 2001 Pro Bowl.
The buzz: No player in Preds history has logged more NFL time.
DL Eddie Freeman
NFL background: A former 2nd round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2002, he appeared in 20 games, all with the Chiefs.
The buzz: A natural pass-rusher, Freeman said the biggest adjustment to the AFL is getting used to quarterbacks' quick drops and fast releases.
DL Greg Jefferson
NFL background: The UCF alumnus played in 57 games for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1995-1999, starting in 41 of them.
The buzz: Now six years out from his last NFL camp with the Eagles, Jefferson most recently taught American history at Evans High.
WR Charles Lee
NFL background: The former seventh-round pick of the Green Bay Packers played in 44 games with the Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals.
The buzz: At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, the UCF alumnus will give the Preds a big target at receiver.
FB/LB Lance Mitchell
NFL background: A fifth-round pick in 2005, Mitchell played in 12 games as a rookie for the Arizona Cardinals, making 14 special-teams tackles.
The buzz: Mitchell starred as a running back and a defensive player in high school in California.
DB Rayshun Reed
NFL background: Played in seven games with the San Francisco 49ers in 2004 and 2005, starting one game, and had five tackles and one forced fumble.
The buzz: Reed played in NFL Europe last year.
DL Andrew Williams
NFL background: Played in 10 games for the San Francisco 49ers in 2003-2004, starting three of them at defensive end.
The buzz: The University of Miami alumnus made 16 tackles in the NFL.
|02-15-2007, 12:34 PM||#2|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Oct 2002
Okay, have to admit when I first read this thread title I thought what the heck is Carswell going to do for the Nashville hockey team??!!
|02-15-2007, 12:39 PM||#3|
It is what it Is.
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: in a bunker
Is there a story here, something about a house? Must have missed it.
|02-15-2007, 01:06 PM||#5|
Draft Defense Early&Often
Join Date: Oct 2004
|02-15-2007, 01:36 PM||#6|
The Dude abides.
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: SLC, UT
The Fax Machine
I went to a House and the Predators concert a few years ago. They were actually opening up for The Monkees reunion tour, but they were the best band playing that night.
|02-15-2007, 01:50 PM||#7|
Broncos Fan in Florida
Join Date: Jul 2006
In all seriousness, the Preds games are a blast to go to. Back in the late 90's, there was a 2-season stretch where the cameras would find the hottest and nastiest chicks to show on the jumbo-tron. The girls would kindly respond by lifting their shirts up for a little peek-a-boo action. The crowd would go nuts and by the end of the game, the crowd would start chanting, "Show your t!ts" to every girl they put on the big screen. It was awesome.
Then NBC had to go and screw everything up by televising the games and started catering to families. The Orlando Arena must have released a memo to the camera men to knock it off.