The San Antonio Commanders hit the field for their first practice on Thursday with 85 players on their mini-camp roster.
By lunch time on Saturday, they had completed five practices at Benson Stadium at the University of the Incarnate Word – and mini-camp workouts were over. Based on that experience, Commanders head coach Mike Riley and his staff have to cut 10 players.
“We have to do that. I’m not sure exactly when it is, but in a few days,” Riley said. “By league mandate we’ll have to go down to 75.”
Alliance of American Football (AAF) teams will hold their training camps in San Antonio in January with 75-man rosters. That means that some players are likely to learn just before Christmas that their shot at making the team is done. That could also mean their road to the NFL us over.
“This is not ideal or easy. But it is part of the deal,” Riley said. “So it’s something we end up having to do.”
For the remaining 75 players, they are a few weeks away from competing for spots on the 52-man regular-season roster as well as for starting positions. For those who do well, the AAF season ends in time for players to be picked up for NFL training camps.
“The dreams are still alive,” said Riley, who coached in a similar situation with the San Antonio Riders of the World League in 1991. “What I found in the league like this back in the day is there were two kinds of players. Most all of them wanted to continue the dream and get another shot at the NFL. Some of them weren’t NFL players and they knew it. They liked football and wanted to keep playing.
“Whatever the motivation is, it’s good to have these guys. They like it. They like football. They want to keep pursuing their dream. So they’re pretty conscientious. Because any glitch, in the blink of an eye they could ruin that dream.”