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 receiver Carl Whitley: training camp photo gallery

San Antonio Commanders wide receiver Carl Whitley goes through drills during the first week of training camp. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders wide receiver Carl Whitley goes through drills during the first week of training camp. – photo by Joe Alexander
Carl Whitley is a firm believer San Antonio is ready for a pro football team.

He hears the talk since the Alliance of American Football announced it was coming to town.

“They love it. When you walk around now, everybody talks about it,” Whitley said last week. “They can’t wait to see the team.”

The former Roosevelt High School wide receiver is part of the building process of the new San Antonio Commanders, as he tries to continue his football career.

“That’s why I’m happy I’m on the team and I’m from here,” Whitley said. “I’ve got a community behind me. Family and friends. They just want to see this team. We’ve been waiting for a team for the longest. Now we’ve got one. Whole San Antonio is ready to rise. Everybody sees how we are with the Spurs. It’s going to be great.”

Whitley has been with the Commanders through mini-camp in December and now training camp, which just completed its first week.

“One thing I gained is I’m familiar with the playbook now,” Whitley said of the carry-over from mini-camp to training camp. “We got started early. I feel like I’ve got a little edge on. I’m ready to get in. I’m a little ahead of my time.

“When you go into certain camps you’re not really ready. This camp we’re ready. We’ve got plays together.”

After Roosevelt, Whitley played two seasons of junior college football at Cisco College.

Whitley spent three years at Abilene Christian. He sat out the 2016 season after suffering a knee injury late in the 2015 season. In 2015, he played in 10 games and had 10 catches for 374 yards with two touchdowns. In 2017, he played in 11 games and made 31 catches for 307 yards with five touchdowns.

Even in high school, Whitley never played in the Alamodome. He got to spend some time on the field there last week in a team meet-and-greet event for season ticket holders.

“I’ve never played in the Alamodome in all my time playing here,” Whitley said. “It’s been good walking down on that field. Actually being able to play on that field is crazy to me.”

Photo note: Photos of Whitley are from the first six days of training camp. Whitley was limited in practice on Saturday do to what a team official called a toe issue.

Whitley’s Abilene Christian bio page:
ACUsports.com

NFL draft preview interview:
thegridironcrew.com

Whitley’s winning touchdown catch at Roosevelt High School:
mySanAntonio.com

Video of Whitley’s senior season highlights at Roosevelt:
hudl.com

Commanders running back Aaron Green: training camp photo gallery

Former Madison High School and TCU running back Aaron Green goes through drills at San Antonio Commanders training camp on Monday, Jan. 7, 2018. - photo by Joe Alexander
Former Madison High School and TCU running back Aaron Green goes through drills at San Antonio Commanders training camp on Monday, Jan. 7, 2018. – photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders running back Aaron Green is in familiar territory.

He grew up in the city and was a star at Madison High School.

He played three collegiate seasons at TCU. As a senior, he rushed for 1,272 yards (seventh best in TCU history) and 11 touchdowns. In his final college game at the Alamodome, the Commanders’ home field, he ran for 101 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries as TCU beat Oregon in the Alamobowl.

Green is currently part of the Commanders’ 75-man training camp roster. The 5-foot-10, 203-pounder is competing for a spot on the 52-man regular-season roster and a starting spot.

The Commanders open the first Alliance of American Football (AAF) season with a home game at the Alamodome against the San Diego Fleet on Feb. 9.

Commanders RB Aaron Green meets the media:
210football.com

Aaron Green at Commanders mini-camp photo gallery:
210football.com

TCU bio page”
GoFrogs.com

Aaron Green heading to the NFL
KENS5.com

Nick Rose goes from Commanders to NFL playoffs

Nick Rose kicks a field goal on Tuesday San Antonio Commanders training camp. - photo by Joe Alexander
Nick Rose kicks a field goal on Tuesday at San Antonio Commanders training camp. – photo by Joe Alexander
The reason many football players flocked to the Alliance of American Football (AAF) was to get another chance of reaching the NFL.

For San Antonio Commanders kicker Nick Rose, the road back to the NFL was a short one. Earlier this week, Rose was at Commanders training camp.

Now Rose is with the Los Angeles Chargers – who picked up the former University of Texas kicker to handle the kickoff duties during the playoffs. The Chargers play the New England Patriots in the AFC divisional playoffs on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. Central time.

This is the note that appeared in the Commanders’ training camp news release Thursday:

“In transactions, kicker Nick Rose (Texas) was placed on the Reserve/Other League List. Contract terminated per authorized alternative league release.”

Rose had played for the Chargers in the past. Here is the USA Today story:
USAtoday.com

Commanders a blessing for Andrew McDonald

San Antonio Commanders offensive lineman Andrew McDonald is back in pro football for the first time since being cut by the Houston Texans in 2016. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders offensive lineman Andrew McDonald is back in pro football for the first time since being cut by the Houston Texans in 2016. – photo by Joe Alexander
Andrew McDonald’s pro football record shows more teams than games played. From 2012 to 2016 he was signed by the Dolphins, Panthers, Seahawks, Colts, Browns, Chargers and Texans. During that stretch his only playing time came in two games with Seattle in 2014.

Houston cut McDonald in 2016 and he hasn’t been on a roster since.

But that’s just the football part of his life. He was diagnosed with cancer – and beat it. He spent two years and ministry school in Indiana and might go back and finish that when his football career is over for good.

For the moment, McDonald’s life is focused on football again, specifically on San Antonio Commanders training camp.

“First week goes by quick,” said McDonald, a 6-foot-5, 314-pound offensive lineman. “Man, it’s so good to get back into it. It’s been awhile. Two years since I’ve been back. But man so good.

“All the camaraderie of the teammates, actually putting on pads, hitting people. It’s a good feeling. I feel like we’ve really bonded together.”

McDonald started every game at left tackle for Indiana University his junior and senior seasons – 2010 and 2011.

With the Commanders, he is currently seeing more time right tackle but also working some at the other positions on the offensive line. As part of a new team, he is part of a group that is trying to come together quickly.

“Everybody is new so we’ve all got to really learn each other, find what kind of people we are,” McDonald said. “You’ve got to be able to trust the teammate next to you, especially offensive line.

“It’s working out. Everybody here on the offensive line, I love them. We’re a pretty tight knit group. Obviously you’ve got to take steps, but it’s coming along pretty well.”

McDonald’s college bio page:
iuhoosiers.com

McDonald comes back from cancer:
indystar.com

Jason Minnix of ESPN San Antonio, who will handle radio play-by-play of Commanders games, checks out an official AAF ball. - photo by Joe Alexander
Jason Minnix of ESPN San Antonio, who will handle radio play-by-play of Commanders games, checks out an official AAF ball.
Training camp report: Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019

It was a sunny day in the low 60s. Players were in full pads.

There is no practice scheduled Friday – the first day off since training camp workouts started Saturday.

Photo gallery: today’s catches

Commanders practice in full pads for first time

Commanders cornerback Zack Sanchez comes off the field Wednesday, the first day the team practiced in full pads. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders cornerback Zack Sanchez comes off the field Wednesday, the first day the team practiced in full pads. – photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders training camp was a little noisier on Wednesday.

The Commanders practiced in full pads – helmets, shoulder pads, thigh pads, hip pads – and did a little more hitting as they took one step closer to putting things together with the AAF season opener a month away.

“It felt great man,” said Zack Sanchez, a cornerback from Oklahoma. “I know for most of the guys it’s been awhile since you felt that thud so I’m glad we got to get out here, get that feel again, get that excitement back.”

Sanchez went to high school in Keller, north of Fort Worth, and played in 36 games over three seasons at Oklahoma. As a junior in 2015, his final season with the Sooners, he intercepted seven passes. The next spring he was drafted in the fifth round by the Carolina Panthers.

Sanchez saw action with the Panthers during the 2016 season, playing in three games and starting one. He had a workout with the New York Giants in August, 2018.

“Once you’re out of that loop it’s hard to get back in. It’s real hard,” Sanchez said. “This is the best thing to happen, better than the CFL. There’s other leagues that are trying it.

“There’s a lot of home-grown talent here and a lot of guys who don’t get the look they may need. It’s a blessing to be here and I’m excited for it.”

Training camp report: Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2018

There was more contact with the full pads on than in the previous four days of training camp, but still no full tackling.

Commanders head coach Mike Riley could sense the energy in practice. The Commanders open the season Feb. 9 against the San Diego Fleet.

“Now it’s the real deal, one month away,” Riley said. “It feels good. I think our guys have made some real progress considering the short amount of time we’ve been together. There’s a million things left to do but I’ve really enjoyed working with these guys and it’s certainly real now.”

Cooled off

The weather cooled off and it felt a little more like winter, at least by Texas standards. After four straight days in the 70s, it never got above the 60s today.

Commanders add defensive back

The Commanders announced they signed De’Vante Bausby, a defensive back from Pittsburg State of Kansas. Bausby played six games with the Chicago Bears in 2016, was on the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad in 2017 and played in six games with the Eagles this season.

Brandon Shed, a wide receiver from Hobart, makes a sideline catch at the end of practice Wednesday at Commanders training camp. - photo by Joe Alexander
Brandon Shed, a wide receiver from Hobart, makes a sideline catch at the end of practice Wednesday at Commanders training camp.

Commanders QB Logan Woodside photo gallery from training camp

Quarterback Logan Woodside goes through drills during the first week of Commanders training camp at Central Catholic High School. - photo by Joe Alexander
Quarterback Logan Woodside goes through drills during the first week of Commanders training camp at Central Catholic High School. – photo by Joe Alexander
Logan Woodside has been well traveled in the short time since his senior season as an award-winning quarterback at Toledo.

The 2017 MAC conference offensive player of the year was picked by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Woodside ended up spending time on the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad. He later got a look from the Buffalo Bills.

The 6-foot-1, 213-pound quarterback was the third-round selection of the Commanders on Nov. 27 in the Alliance of American Football (AAF) “pick or protect” quarterback draft.

In his senior season at Toledo, Woodside passed for 3,882 yards and 28 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. As a junior, he passed for 4,129 yards and 45 touchdowns with 9 interceptions.

More on Logan Woodside:

Evaluating Woodside as a Bengal’s draft pick:
CincyJungle.com

Woodside as an NFL draft prospect:
NFL.com

Bills take a look at Woodside
USAtoday.com

Photo gallery: Woodside at mini-camp
210football.com

Woodside talks to the media at mini-camp
210football.com

Woodside video of college highlights from Toledo
210football.com

Commanders QB Dustin Vaughan photo gallery

Former West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan was the Commanders' protected first-round selection in the Alliance of American Football QB draft. - photo by Joe Alexander
Former West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan was the Commanders’ protected first-round selection in the Alliance of American Football QB draft. – photo by Joe Alexander

Dustin Vaughn’s quest to become the San Antonio Commanders’ starting quarterback included only three days of work with his teammates in mini-camp before they all went their separate ways for the holidays.

For Vaughan, who was a South Texas high school football player at Calallen, time at home meant both family and work.

“It was Christmas and New Years. You wanted a break and to have fun with your family,” Vaughan said. “But it’s also business time. Leading up to training camp you want to make sure you’re ready to go. Eating right. Working out. Throwing a little.

“I think all of us have maintained the mindset of where we were in mini-camp. We’re going to maintain that through training camp.”

Mini-camp workouts were Dec. 13-15. The team resumed practice at training camp on Saturday. Vaughan sensed that the players’ previous time together, however brief, is paying off now.

“It’s great. It’s a good start getting used to guys, whether it’s receiver to quarterback, the offense, the defense, kind of what we’re running,” Vaughan said. “We were able to do some installs in mini-camp to be able to come out here and feel like we got a good start.”

Commanders QB Dalton Sturm says arm feels good

Commanders quarterback Dalton Sturm, talking to the media after Tuesday’s practice, says his arm feels good. – photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders quarterback Dalton Sturm, talking to the media after Tuesday’s practice, says his arm feels good. – photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders quarterback Dalton Sturm had recently taken time off from throwing due to an elbow issue.

That included watching as the team’s other three quarterbacks went through passing drills at mini-camp in December.

But the former UTSA starting quarterback has been throwing four straight days in training camp. Sturm reported after Tuesday’s practice at Central Catholic that he feels good passing the ball.

“It feels good. It’s not hurting me at all,” Sturm said. “I’m going out there, I’m able to make every throw I was before.”

A question mark was not only would Sturm be throwing when training camp started, but how he would feel the next morning after he tested his arm on Saturday.

“It was a little sore. I hadn’t thrown in about six weeks,” Sturm said. “That’s just normal. Coming out now, I’m feeling good and I’m ready to hit the ground running.”

Commanders head coach Mike Riley said on Monday he has been impressed with Sturm’s history and his performance so far in training camp.

“I love Dalton. Dalton’s got a good story behind him,” Riley said. “He walked on, won the spot, won games, has records at his school UTSA. I think he’s got a lot of self confidence and I think he understands the quarterback position.

“I’ve been impressed since we really didn’t get to see him at mini camp when all his arm issues were going on. Seeing him out here and watching it all take place, I think it’s very interesting that way. I think that we’ve been fortunate in the quarterbacks we got in this league.”

Commanders quarterbacks stretch at the beginning of Tuesday's training camp practice. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders quarterbacks stretch at the beginning of Tuesday’s training camp practice.
All four quarterbacks in camp – Sturm, Dustin Vaughan, Marquise Williams and Logan Woodside – seem to be enjoying the quarterback competition. On the field they look like the foursome is a friendly group.

“I really like it. I’ve known Logan (Woodside) for a long time, Dustin (Vaughan) is my roommate at camp so being able to compete with him out here is great,” Sturm said. “Marquise (Williams) is a really good dude so being able to compete with these guys each and every day is awesome.

“We’re all shooting for the same thing and we’re all trying to be the best quarterback we can be at the same time. Being able to try and earn that starting job alongside these guys, while working with them and learning with them is just a great opportunity.”

Training camp report: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019

It was a hazy but sunny day and the warmest of training camp yet, getting up to about 78 degrees at Central Catholic High School’s football stadium. That might be the hottest day for a while. San Antonio is forecast to see cooler weather the rest of the week.

No pads, no helmets

The players went through the first two training camp practices on Saturday and Sunday with helmets, but no pads. Monday they added shoulder pads. Tuesday they were down to only jerseys. The coaches used the non-contact practice to focus on teaching offensive and defensive schemes.

Sounds like coaching

There are certain things you hear at practice that stick out. A favorite is receivers coach Keith Williams calling one of his player a “rascal” after a good play or a “dirty rascal” after a great play.

Wisdom from head coach Mike Riley on Tuesday: “All the parts will fit in some day.”

 Commanders receiver Speedy Noil (16) and Riley Smith talk during drills at Tuesday's training camp practice. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders receiver Speedy Noil (16) and Riley Smith talk during drills at Tuesday’s training camp practice.
Looking like a coach

Commanders receiver Riley Smith, who suffered a hamstring injury on the first day of training camp, wasn’t dressed out Tuesday. He was still with is fellow receivers, wearing black shorts and t-shirt and a Commanders cap, and could have passed for an assistant coach.

Speaking of coaches

There continued to be a large number of college coaches surrounding the practice field. Coaches from around the country are in San Antonio for the American Football Coaches Association convention.

Commanders waive Hawkins

The Commanders terminated the rights of offensive lineman Donald Hawkins via the waiver system. Hawkins was a 6-foot-4, 310-pound guard from Texas and wore No. 77.

First day for fans

Fans are now welcome to sit in the stands and watch practice. Tuesday was the first day of the open-door policy for the fans at all of the AAF training camps. There were a few in the stands at Central Catholic. Commanders practices on Wednesday and Thursday are scheduled for 11:30 a.m.

Fans were allowed to sit in the stands at Central Catholic's football stadium to watch Commanders' practice for the first time Tuesday. - photo by Joe Alexander
Fans were allowed to sit in the stands at Central Catholic’s football stadium to watch Commanders’ practice for the first time Tuesday.

Commanders coach Mike Riley and the zen of bouncing back

San Antonio Commanders coach Mike Riley (right) works with players on holding for field goals. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders coach Mike Riley (right) works with players on holding for field goals. – photo by Joe Alexander
The talk of the football world on Sunday night was a missed field goal on the final play of the Philadelphia Eagles’ victory over the Chicago Bears.

San Antonio Commanders coach Mike Riley has been around long enough to have thoughts on working with players who shoulder the blame for tough losses.

“There’s a lot of mental parts that go into it,” Riley said. “The fact of the matter is that it was tough, it was a miss.

“What we coach is it’s a great opportunity to show that you can bounce back and that you’re-tough minded enough to do it and it’s a great chance to build a better you.”

Training camp update: Monday, Jan. 7, 2019

It was warmer and more humid than the first two days of practice, up to about 75 degrees when the players walked off the field. There were lots of visiting coaches on the sidelines, due largely to the American Football Coaches Association convention in San Antonio.

Cornerback Zack Sanchez and the rest of the players were in shoulder pads on Monday for the first time in training camp. - photo by Joe Alexander
Cornerback Zack Sanchez and the rest of the players were in shoulder pads on Monday for the first time in training camp.
Shoulder pads

The Commanders went through their first two practices on Saturday and Sunday with helmets but no pads. On Monday, they added shoulder pads. “It feels like real football,” one assistant coach said.

“If was given the choice I would go with shoulder pads on the very first day and still keep them up just because I think it provides them the protection when you’re running through the hole from the back,” Riley said. “I think it’s good. Frankly it wasn’t a lot different, except for the interaction in the line.”

Come watch practice

The Commanders’ daily news update includes the following:

“NEW ANNOUNCEMENT: All practices for teams of The Alliance of American Football are now open to the general public. Fans are required to sit in the stands.”

Roster addition

Henry Poggi, a fullback from Iowa State, is now No. 45 on the roster. He is listed at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds.

Mabry no longer on roster

Former UTSA defensive lineman Ashaad Mabry is no longer on the roster. He was listed as a defensive end at 6-foot-2, 312 pounds wearing No. 97. Mabry was at the first training camp practice on Saturday, but didn’t have a helmet on. He was with the team in mini-camp. The team announced he was placed on the reserved/injured list via the waiver system.

San Antonio Commanders kicker Sergio Castillo Jr. works with Joseph Zema doing the holding. Zema is a punter. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders kicker Sergio Castillo Jr. works with Joseph Zema doing the holding. Zema is a punter.