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:
247sports.com

Temple’s player bio from CFL
cfl.ca

Temple’s tryout with Bengals
cincinnati.com

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.

Commanders coach Mike Riley, GM Daryl Johnston talk about training camp opening

The San Antonio Commanders gathered at a downtown hotel for training camp, with practices beginning tomorrow. - photo by Joe Alexander
The San Antonio Commanders gathered at a downtown hotel for training camp, with practices beginning tomorrow. – photo by Joe Alexander
Daryl Johnston was sitting by himself Friday afternoon in a hotel conference room filled with helmets, shoulder pads and piles of paperwork.

The San Antonio Commanders general manager was working his cellphone as players and members of the media filtered in and out until head coach Mike Riley showed up.

Then Johnston and Riley stopped their preparations to talk about training camp workouts, which kick off tomorrow.

“Each step of the way it’s become a little clearer of getting started and having a real team and a brand new league,” said Riley, who leads the Commanders into their first season of the Alliance of American Football (AAF).

“All that stuff from the very beginning to getting the chance to go to mini-camp and now getting ready to start practicing with this group tomorrow,” Riley said. “It’s all become clearer and real and we’re excited.”

Commanders coach Mike Riley (left) and GM Daryl Johnston discuss the opening of training camp. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders coach Mike Riley (left) and GM Daryl Johnston discuss the opening of training camp.
Johnston’s part of the equation is to put together the Commanders’ roster.

AAF teams can have 75 players on their training camp roster. That number has to cut down to 52 by Sunday, Feb. 3 – six days before the Commanders’ opener at the Alamodome against the San Diego Fleet.

As Johnston was waiting for Friday afternoon’s news gathering to start, he was still looking for players. The Commanders announced both additions and subtractions to the roster on Friday.

“We’ll definitely continue to look,” Johnston said. “I’m actually getting ready to get one more right now. We unfortunately had a couple of guys with injuries that won’t be able to join us. So up until the last minute. We did the same thing in mini-camp.”

Johnston got a first-hand look at the level of talent it takes to reach the NFL during 11 seasons as a fullback for the Dallas Cowboys. He was part of three Super Bowl championship teams and made a name for himself as a smart, hard-nosed blocking back.

“There’s a lot of talented guys out there. But the one thing is you have to love the game of football,” Johnston said. “This is not an easy game. So it’s going to get difficult here in the next couple of days. We want guys who love the grind and embrace the challenge. That part of the football player, the desire and passion for the game, is just as important as the skills.

“If we’re doing our job right, we’re going to have a little bit of roster turnover. Hopefully some of our guys are going to have an opportunity to go to the NFL… That’s what we’re looking to do. We’re looking to provide them the opportunity.”

League notes: With all eight AAF franchises holding training camp in San Antonio, some of the teams will be looking to getting together with other teams in practice. The Commanders are planning to practice or scrimmage against the Atlanta Legends.

Johnston said teams can make trades within the league and some teams already have. His example was if a team had a player with talent, but who didn’t fit into that team’s system but might be a good fit with another AAF team.

San Antonio Commanders helmets are stocked and ready for players at training camp. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders helmets are stocked and ready for players at training camp.

Happy holidays and remember …

San Antonio Commanders players going through timed sprints during the first mini-camp workout on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders players going through timed sprints during the first mini-camp workout on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.
While most of us are enjoying the weekend and then the Christmas holiday, hundreds of football players across the country are using this time to get into peak shape for Alliance of American Football training camps.

For some of the players, a chance to make it with one of the eight AAF teams – including the San Antonio Commanders – is their last chance to keep alive their dream of being a professional football player.

Happy holidays and good luck in the new year.

– Joe Alexander

Commanders RB Aaron Green meets the media

San Antonio Commanders running back Aaron Green, a San Antonio native and former TCU player, talks to members of the local media on Wednesday as the  team's mini-camp. - photo by Joe AlexanderSan Antonio Commanders running back Aaron Green, a San Antonio native and former TCU player, talks to members of the local media on Wednesday at the team’s mini-camp.

“I was born and raised here. It’s been a long time coming. So it’s an awesome experience. It’s very exciting. Growing up I’ve been to millions of games in the Alamodome. Playing there has always been a dream of mine.”
– Aaron Green

Additions to Commanders roster: Dec. 7, 2018

San Antonio Commanders fans got their first chance to see the team's uniforms in person on Tuesday.The following players have recently been assigned to the San Antonio Commanders:

Winston Craig, DT, Richmond
Kenneth Farrow II, RB, Houston
Kennan Gilchrist, LB, Appalachian State
Jordan Holland, DB, Prairie View A&M
Cole Hunt, TE, TCU
Bryce Jones, DB, Akron
Austin Larkin, LB, Purdue
Justice Liggins, WR, Stephen F. Austin
Joey Mbu, DT, Houston
Kishawn McClain, DB, North Texas
Mekale McKay, WR, Cincinnati
Evan Rodriguez, TE, Temple
Orion Stewart, DB, Baylor
Duke Thomas, DB, Texas
Nick Thurman, DT, Houston

Updated list of Commanders players