Commanders’ Greg Ward Jr. named special teams player of the week

Commanders receiver Greg Ward Jr., returning a punt in practice Tuesday at the Alamodome, was named the AAF special teams player of the week. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders receiver Greg Ward Jr., returning a punt in practice Tuesday at the Alamodome, was named the AAF special teams player of the week. – photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders wide receiver Greg Ward Jr. scored on a league-record 79-yard punt return Sunday. The explosive play came in a 37-6 road victory over the Atlanta Legends.

Ward was named the Alliance of American Football special teams player of the week.

Here are the other players of the week from an AAF news release:

Offensive player of the week:
Birmingham WR L’Damian Washington.

Washington had four receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns in The Iron’s 32-29 week six win. The performance marks team single-game records in receiving yards and touchdown catches, while Washington became the first player in Alliance history with at least 125 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in the same game.

Defensive player of the week:
Salt Lake DE Karter Schult.

Schult tallied five total tackles, two sacks and four QB hits in The Stallions’ 22-9 victory last week. Schult, who leads The Alliance with seven sacks this season, anchored a Salt Lake defense that held Memphis to nine points and 239 total yards while racking up seven team sacks in the win.

Commanders waive rights to Johnny Manziel, who goes to Memphis Express

The Alliance of American Football announced Saturday night that former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel signed with the league and was claimed by the Memphis Express.

The Express were hit with an injury at that position earlier in the day. Memphis starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger suffered a sprained ankle in a 22-9 loss to the Salt Lake Stallions.

When Manziel signed with the AAF, the San Antonio Commanders had the first shot at him due to his ties with Texas A&M. The Commanders waived their rights, making Manziel available to other teams in the league.

The Commanders sent out a news release with the following statement from San Antonio general manager Daryl Johnston:

“We have decided not to exercise our rights to sign Johnny Manziel as a San Antonio Commander.

“When I took this job as general manager of the Commanders there were foundational experiences from my career as a player and as a broadcaster that I would not deviate from. There were also things that I would have to learn from my experience on the job. One of the most important things I have already learned is when there is an opportunity to get better … you get better. The challenge is finding the balance in what I know and what I have learned and finding the best solution to get better as a team. I truly believe that the moves necessary to add Johnny to our roster do not make us better at this time.

“I wish Johnny all the best with the Alliance of American Football and we look forward to competing against him in the future.”

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Commanders’ Logan Woodside named offensive player of the week

Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside has completed 38-of-75 passes for 478 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in the first two games. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside, shown at practice at Central Catholic High School, is the offensive player of the week. – photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside AAF earned offensive player of the week honors after San Antonio’s 29-25 road victory over the Arizona Hotshots on Sunday.

Woodside threw two touchdowns and completed 21 of 27 passes for 290 yards. He had one interception. In the first half he completed 12 of 13 passes for 192 yards and both of his touchdowns.

From the AAF news release:

Defensive player of the week:
San Diego DB Kameron Kelly

Kelly set an Alliance single-game record with three interceptions in The Fleet’s 27-25 win last week. Kelly, who returned one of his three interceptions for a 22-yard touchdown, also had four passes defensed and tied for second on the team with six tackles.

Special teams player of the week:
Atlanta K Younghoe Koo

Koo converted all three of his field goal attempts, including makes from 25, 35 and 38 yards, in leading Atlanta to a 23-20 victory in week five. With the score tied at 20 late in the fourth quarter, Koo made a game-winning 35-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining in regulation. The South Korean-born Koo is a perfect 11-for-11 on the season.

Commanders’ Kenneth Farrow II named AAF offensive player of the week

San Antonio Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II played in high school at Bell High School in Hurst just outside of Fort Worth. - photo by Joe Alexander
Kenneth Farrow II, shown in training camp, earned AAF offensive player of the week honors. – photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II was named offensive player of the week by the Alliance of American Football for Week 4.

Farrow rushed for an AAF single-game record 142 yards in a 12-11 victory over the Birmingham Iron on Sunday. Farrow had 30 carries and averaged 4.7 yards per carry against one of the league’s best defenses.

Memphis linebacker Drew Jackson was named defensive player of the week.

Memphis kicker Austin MacGinnis was named special teams player of the week.

Commanders GM Daryl Johnston on Johnny Manziel, Jason Witten

Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston talks to the defensive front at practice Tuesday at Farris Stadium. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston, shown at practice during training camp in San Antonio, shared his thoughts on former Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel and Dallas Cowboys legend Jason Witten.
San Antonio Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston talked to the media on Thursday following the team’s practice.

The two biggest topics where Jason Witten, who announced he is returning to play for the Dallas Cowboys, and Johnny Manziel, who might be available to play in the Alliance of American Football after his CFL contract was terminated yesterday.

First a little background on a few points.

– Daryl Johnston spent his NFL career as a fullback for the Dallas Cowboys and won three Super Bowls before retiring and starting a TV career.

– Johnston makes a few references to Tom Dundon. Dundon is the investor who pumped $250 million into the AAF.

– Charlie Ebersol is the league founder.

– Stefan Charles is a former NFL player who signed with the San Antonio Commanders last week.

Daryl Johnston on whether the Commanders are trying to sign Johnny Manziel:

“Nothing with us right now. I think there has been some (talks) with Charlie Ebersol and Tom Dunden. But nothing with us directly here in San Antonio at this point.

“I had a conversation with Tom Dundon. He was the one who informed me yesterday of what happened and that Johnny Manziel was now available. He just said he belongs to you in San Antonio, so what are your thoughts? I said let’s just sit back and see what the league thinks and then we’ll move ahead from there. We’re kind of in a holding pattern right now here locally in San Antonio. We’ll see what the Alliance talks about.

“But it is different. And I asked Tom, I said what is the difference here with some of the other high profile players that have asked to come down? He said the big thing is they’re demanding different salaries. The one thing that Tom wants to make sure is that everybody in the Alliance is paid the same that first year, second year salary will be the same. That was the one big thing.

“It sounds as though Johnny Manziel is comfortable coming down here and playing for the salaries that have been established with us in the Alliance.”

Daryl Johnston on Johnny Manziel and other players coming to the AAF:

“Obviously with his connection to Texas A&M, he comes to San Antonio before he goes anywhere else. The one big thing about this league, and we’ve seen this now with the success of the first couple weeks and the ratings that we’ve got there’s been a lot of discussion. So there’s a lot of guys who are now interested in the Alliance. Obviously as we move through the season we’re going to continue adding players we think can help us win.

“Stefan Charles is one of those guys. Stefan was out there for the entire time through this process but until he really started to hear about it and really see what the Alliance was all about, he was a little bit hesitent to join. So he’s a classic example of one of those guys that you can add late because they’re just starting to hear about it and get their interest.

“The other thing, the Alliance is at the (NFL) combine right now. They’ve got a presence up there. They’re already starting to take a look at some of the guys who are going to be at the bottom of this year’s draft, those sixth-round players, potentially free-agent guys, the type of guys who typically come to us in the Alliance. That’s great.

We’re always looking to add some people as the season goes along. We’re starting to get a presence in some of the other parts of the football calendar.”

Daryl Johnston on Jason Witten returning to the Cowboys:

“I’m happy for him, I really am. I missed him as a player last year. I know the Dallas fans are going to be ecstatic. The one thing you forget about and what he’s done statistically is amazing throughout his career, but that leadership. That was so important during his time with the Dallas Cowboys. No. 1 they’ve got their leader back on the offensive side of the ball and throughout the team.

“I thought he was in a good place with his decision last year. Not a lot of people make that choice and go back, so it will be interesting to see what happens next year.”

Apollos’ Garrett, Reaser earn player of the week honors

Two members of the Orlando Apollos were named AAF players of the week after their performance against the San Antonio Commanders on Sunday.

From the AAF news release:

Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert. - photo by Joe Alexander
Apollos quarterback Garrett Gilbert. – photo by Joe Alexander
Offensive player of the week:
Orlando QB Garrett Gilbert.

Gilbert completed 19 of 28 pass attempts for 393 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 134.5 passer rating, leading the Apollos’ to a 37-29 come-from-behind win over the Commanders at the Alamodome.

Defensive player of the week:
Orlando CB Keith Reaser.

Reaser had two tackles, three passes defensed and a 38-yard interception return-touchdown with 7:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. Reaser’s late pick-six broke a 29-29 tie and proved to be the game-winning score.

Special teams player of the week:
Birmingham DB Jamar Summers.

Summers recorded three tackles and forced a fumble on punt coverage in the third quarter that was recovered in the end zone by LB Shaheed Salmon for the Iron’s first touchdown of the game, sparking a second-half comeback victory at Legion Field Stadium.

AAF Week 2: Hotshots, Iron stay undefeated; Fleet get first win

The Birmingham Iron and Arizona Hotshots, winners in the opening week of AAF action, both won close games over the weekend.

The Hotshots went scoreless in the first half before coming back to beat the Memphis Express 20-18. Arizona quarterback John Wolford completed 14-of-22 passes for 194 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Hotshots also used three running backs to pile up 209 yards rushing.

The Iron came from behind in the second half to beat the Salt Lake Stallions 12-9. The Iron, who shut out Memphis in the season opener, blanked the Stallions in the second half in Week 2.

The San Diego Fleet, who lost to the Commanders in their opener in San Antonio, got 104 yards and two touchdowns rushing from Ja’Quan Gardner to beat the Atlanta Legends 24-12.

Videos from Twitter official accounts:

Orlando, Birmingham, Arizona win AAF season openers

While San Antonio’s eyes were on the Commanders on Saturday night at the Alamodome, three other teams won their AAF season openers this weekend.

The Arizona Hotshots beat the Salt Lake Stallions 38-22 in the highest scoring game of the weekend. The Hotshots, coached by former San Antonio Gunslingers quarterback Rick Neuheisel, got 275 passing yards and four touchdowns from former Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford.

The Orlando Apollos were the highest scoring team of Week 1, pounding the Atlanta Legends 40-6. The Apollos are led by venerable college coach Steve Spurrier. Orlando’s Garrett Gilbert, a former Texas and SMU quarterback, passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

The Birmingham Iron recorded the only shutout of the weekend with a 26-0 victory over the Memphis Express. Birmingham quarterback Luis Perez was originally assigned to the Commanders before being picked by the Iron in the AAF’s protect-or-pick draft. Perez passed for 252 yards. The Iron held the Express to 202 total yards.

Images from Twitter courtesy of:

Nick Temple trying to make big impression with Commanders

Former University of Cincinnati lineback Nick Temple at San Antonio Commanders training camp. - photo by Joe Alexander
Former University of Cincinnati lineback Nick Temple at San Antonio Commanders training camp. – photo by Joe Alexander
A first glance at Nick Temple doesn’t make you think linebacker.

He might more easily pass for a running back or a safety.

But the 5-foot-10, 216-pounder from the University of Cincinnati has made an impression at San Antonio Commanders camp.

“I like Nick. He brings a ton of energy,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “He’s got some unique skills as far as his quickness on the edge and his ability to see stuff happen and make plays.

“He’s a little bit shorter but he’s not small. He’s pretty well put together. He’s got a lot of compensating factors for not being 6-5.”

Since his college days, Temple had a look from the Cincinnati Bengals and spend time with two CFL teams.

With the Commanders, Temple is focusing on his tackling and making more plays.

“I’m not the biggest guy, but I do know how to work my strengths and I work on my weaknesses,” Temple said. “I work on my weaknesses more. It all equals out here on the field.”

Temple’s player bio at Cincinnati:

Temple’s player bio from CFL

Temple’s tryout with Bengals

Training camp report: Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019

After a day off from practice Friday, the team returned to the field at Central Catholic High School under clear blue skies and temperatures in the 60s.

Commanders quarterback Dustin Vaughan at training camp on Saturday. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders quarterback Dustin Vaughan at training camp on Saturday.
Quarterback competition

It looks like Dustin Vaughan is the leader in the four-way quarterback competition. Riley said not so fast. There is no depth chart yet and nobody has publicly been named the starter or first quarterback.

“At this point we’ve got a group of players, it’s a first-year team, a beautiful thing to see take place,” Riley said of the competition in training camp. “I just want to leave the door open so that all of these guys can think of it as an opportunity. The real depth chart doesn’t have to take place for a while.”

Former NFL coach Jeff Fisher was on the sidelines during Saturday's Commanders practice. - photo by Joe Alexander
Former NFL coach Jeff Fisher was on the sidelines during Saturday’s Commanders practice.
Faces on the sidelines

Alliance of American Football (AAF) co-founder Charlie Ebersol and former Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher visited Commanders training camp on Saturday.

Two new players

The Commanders have added offensive lineman Mason Gentry from SMU and wide receiver Greg Ward Jr. from Houston to the roster. The Commanders also terminated the rights of defensive back Tre Dickerson.

From the Commanders daily news release:

Mason Gentry

Appeared in 45 career games at Southern Methodist University along the defensive line … transitioned to
offensive line after college … made 107 tackles in college, including 8.0 for loss, 4.5 sacks and four passes
defended … undrafted in 2018 NFL Draft.

Greg Ward Jr.

Played in 49 career games at the University of Houston … played wide receiver and quarterback as a freshman
before switching to quarterback full time as a sophomore … amassed 11,080 yards and 93 total touchdowns at
Houston … 2015 Earl Campbell Award winner … ranked third in total yards, fourth in passing yards and 10 in
rushing yards at Houston … member of the Super Bowl LII champion Eagles’ practice squad in 2017 …
undrafted in 2017 NFL Draft.