Cam Clear a big part of Commanders’ passing game against Legends

Commanders tight end Cam Clear (85), cornerback Jordan Thomas (23) and linebacker Nick Temple (55) at practice Tuesday at the Alamodome. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders tight end Cam Clear (85), cornerback Jordan Thomas (23) and linebacker Nick Temple (55) at practice Tuesday at the Alamodome. – photo by Joe Alexander
Former Texas A&M tight end Cam Clear is an easy guy to pick out on the football field.

At 6-foot-5 and listed at 278 pounds, he is the San Antonio Commanders’ biggest pass catcher.

Coming into the AAF season, there was an image of him as a strong blocking tight end. So far he has lived up to that.

But in Sunday’s victory over the Atlanta Legends, Clear also led the Commanders in catches.

“He’s found his little niche in the offense of how to get open in the intermediate game,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “He’s doing a great job and continues to get better every day in practice. I think he’s one of the most improved players on this team. We know how good he is blocking as a tight end. So it’s good to get him the ball and he made some shake after he caught the ball too.”

Clear finished the game with five catches for 45 yards.

“Five targets, five catches. That was great,” Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston said. “He’s such a big body. As a defense, when Cam Clear is on the field the one thing you’ve got to worry about is running on the edges. You’re kind of geared towards that. Now all of a sudden he becomes very effective running over the middle of the field.

“And those catches he had for us in the game were big because they were second-and-long situations. We had not performed well on first down. We had an incomplete on first down. We had second-and-10 and second-and-9. Cam makes the makes the catch and we’re back to third-and-1, third-and-2. So we’re right back on schedule with the chains. These were big plays during the course of the game.”

Commanders GM Daryl Johnston says team’s decision on Johnny Manziel was all about winning

Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston talks with linebacker Darnell Leslie at the end of practice Tuesday at the Alamodome. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston talks with linebacker Darnell Leslie at the end of practice Tuesday at the Alamodome. – photo by Joe Alexander
Three days after former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became available to AAF teams, Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston discussed why the team stuck with it’s current group of quarterbacks.

“It’s a winning decision, what gives us the best opportunity to win. This game is all about winning,” Johnson said at Tuesday’s practice at the Alamodome. “I think when we talked to everyone in the organization. We felt the decision that we made gave us the best opportunity to win. It’s not about putting people in the seats. It’s not about all these different things people have brought up.

“For us it’s about winning. That’s what this game is. That’s why these coaches are here. That’s why these players are here. Our job is to do everything that we can possibly do to put them in the best position to win the game. That’s the sole reason for all the decisions that we make.”

The Commanders are coming off their third straight road victory. They lead the AAF West with a 4-2 record and play their next game at the Alamodome on Saturday night against the Salt Lake Stallions.

Logan Woodside has started every game at quarterback for the Commanders this season. Last week he was the AAF offensive player of the week. Marquise Williams and Dustin Vaughan are the other two quarterbacks on the Commanders’ roster.

“I think a lot of people don’t understand that they way system is set up, if we’re going to add someone to the roster we’re going to have to take somebody off,” Johnston said. “That was part of the combination of everything that we looked at.”

The Commanders had the AAF’s first rights rights to Manziel because he played at Texas A&M. Manziel signed with the league on Saturday. When the Commanders decided not to take him, the Memphis Express claimed Manziel on Saturday night. The Express had lost their starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger to an ankle injury on Saturday afternoon. Memphis has put Mettenberger on the injured list.

“Memphis is in a completely different situation than we are right now,” Johnston said. “I think it was adventageous for Johnny. I think he gets his best opportunity to have success. That’s the whole timing thing.

“Is it going to be good for him to come into a situation where you’re seven weeks into a 10-week season? You’ve got to learn the playbook. Learn the vocabulary. Establish a rapport with all the skill players. Can you get it done quickly enough to have success? I think Memphis gives him a really good opportunity and I don’t think we were going to provide that.”

Johnston was asked if the Commanders considered signing Manziel in order to have his rights for next season.

“We’ve got three healthy quarterbacks who have been great for us throughout this whole process,” Johnston said. “You talk to Matt Troxel (Commanders offensive coordinator), you talk to Mike Riley, both of them love the quarterback room. That’s what we’re trying to create here. That’s the big thing. Playing for 2020, how much to do we hurt our chances in 2019? That’s part of that balancing act that you have to do.”

Johnston was also asked if AAF officials tried to influence the Commanders in a way that would benefit attendance.

“There was never any pressure from the Alliance to do something we weren’t comfortable with doing,” Johnston said. “So I give them a lot of credit for that. They let each franchise make those decisions. In a situation like that probably the biggest one here so far through this entire journey they stayed true to the way they’ve set things up from day one. They did not force us at all to make a decision.”

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 wrap up road stretch with victory over Legends

image from Twitter.com @aafcommanders

Editor’s note: This story was updated Sunday night after the Birmingham Iron beat the San Diego Fleet 32-29

The San Antonio Commanders wrapped up the dreaded four-game road stretch of their schedule with their third straight victory and return home at the top of the standings.

The Commanders defense came up with a series of big plays for the second week in a row as they knocked off the Atlanta Legends 37-6 on Sunday at Georgia State Stadium.

The Commanders (4-2) went 3-1 on the road stretch of the schedule. They play at the Alamodome on Sunday at 7 p.m. (Central) against the Salt Lake Stallions (2-4). The Commanders have sole possession of first place in the AAF West. San Diego and Salt Lake are both 3-3.

“We just finished 3-1 on the road on a four-game road trip, which I think is pretty impressive for us,” Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside said. “We’ve got a chance to go back and play a really good Salt Lake team back in San Antonio. We’re excited about going back and playing in the Dome.”

Commanders defensive backs De’Vante Bausby, Zack Sanchez and Derron Smith all came up with interceptions. Smith had an interception return for a touchdown for a second straight week. Duke Thomas added a first-half fumble recovery.

The Commanders scored touchdowns after their first three takeaways.

“We’ve got some good players and they made plays today,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said. “They’re athletic and they’re savvy. Derron Smith is a very unique football player.
(Zack) Sanchez made another interception. Those guys, if you make a mistake around them, they’re going to make you pay. They play with a lot of confidence.

“Getting turnovers is one thing. Being able to capitalize with points, that was really the game today. We got the ball in some good situations for our offense. We did take advantage of it and made it count got a good early lead because of it.”

Greg Ward Jr. gave the Commanders a special teams score when he returned a punt for a league-record 79-yard touchdown. The Commanders’ offense did not have any turnovers.

“I was really proud of our team today,” Riley said. “I think we kind of stayed on top of it. It was fun to see basically all the parts of our team, offense, defense, and special teams all contribute to winning the game. It was definitely a team win, a team effort.”

Woodside completed 17 of 23 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

“I think it’s just another week with this offense and these guys,” said Woodside, who was the AAF offensive player of the week last week. “I just tried to take it personal to study more and try to do everything I can in practice to make myself better. Obviously with the defense we have it have makes it tough on us in practice. So it always good to to go against those guys every week.”

Wide receiver Mekale McKay and tight end Evan Rodriguez had the Commanders’ touchdown catches. Tight end Cam Clear led the team in receptions with five for 45 yards.

“What we hoped to do is run the ball OK. We didn’t really run the ball as well as we wanted to today,” Riley said. “But we ran. We like to run.

“Then we like to have play-action passes that go down the field. Then we need some ball-control passes. One of the best things about our game at least early in the game, we hit some consistent ball-control routes that got some first downs for us. We kept the ball for a long time in the first half.”

Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow scored the first touchdown of the game to make it 6-0 in the first quarter. That was set up by Thomas’ fumble recovery.

The Legends tried to get even on their next drive when they went for a deep pass. The Commanders’ Smith and Bausby were there to break it up.

Sanchez had his interception later in the first quarter. That set the stage for Woodside’s touchdown pass and two-point conversion pass both to McKay to make it 14-0. The Commanders kept that drive going when Woodside completed a fourth-down pass to Clear.

The Commanders defense came up with its third takeaway of the first half on Bausby’s interception. This time Woodside threw a touchdown pass to Evan Rodriguez and the Commanders led 20-0.

The Legends scored a touchdown late in the first half for what turned out to be their only points of the game.

Ward’s punt return for the touchdown extended the Commanders’ lead to 26-6 with 1:00 left in the half.

Nick Rose, who has not missed this season, kicked a field goal on the Commanders’ first possession of the second half to make it 29-6.

Both offenses were held in check the rest of the way. The final touchdown of the game came on Smith’s 87-yard interception return with 8:40 remaining.

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.”

Image from Twitter.com
@aafexpress

Commanders vs. Legends injury report for Friday

Commanders defensive backs Zack Sanchez, De'Vante Bausby and Orion Stewart at practice Friday at Central Catholic High School. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders defensive backs Zack Sanchez, De’Vante Bausby and Orion Stewart at practice Friday at Central Catholic High School. – photo by Joe Alexander
From a Commanders news release

SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation Thurs. Participation Fri. Participation Game Status
TE Cole Hunt Lower Leg DNP DNP DNP Out
DL Joey Mbu Ankle DNP Limited Full –
TE Evan Rodriguez Illness DNP Full –
DB Zack Sanchez Illness DNP Full –

ATLANTA LEGENDS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation Thurs. Participation Fri. Participation Game Status
DL Tavaris Barnes Shoulder DNP DNP DNP Out
RB Lawrence Pittman Ankle DNP DNP Limited Quesionable
S Ed Reynolds, Jr Groin Limited Limited Full –
QB Matt Simms Finger DNP Limited Full Questionable
DB Damian Swann Ankle DNP DNP DNP Out
WR Ervin Philips Groin Limited DNP DNP Out

Did Not Participate in Practice (DNP)

Commanders working on their passing game at practice: photo gallery

Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside at practice Thursday at Central Catholic High School as the team prepared for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Legends. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside at practice Thursday at Central Catholic High School as the team prepared for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Legends. – photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders quarterback Logan Woodside is currently No. 3 in the AAF in passing yards with 1,025 after five games – one yard behind No. 2 John Wolford of the Arizona Hotshots. The Orlando Apollos’ Garrett Gilbert is No. 1 at 1,357.

The Commanders’ Mekale McKay is No. 3 in the league in receiving yards at 317. Alonzo Moore is second on the team in receiving yards with 178 and De’Marcus Ayers is third with 165.

The Commanders are coming off a 29-25 road victory over the Arizona Hotshots that saw Woodside pass for 290 yards and two touchdown and earn AAF offensive player of the week honors.

“We had a good game plan going in,” Woodside said. “The receivers made plays. I think we’re just clicking as an offense in general. We stalled out some drives in the third quarter, which you can’t have three-and-outs. But the defense did a great job starting out, especially with Derron (Smith) on the pick six to start the game.

“We’ve just got to continue to get better. I think that as we continue to get to know each other, the more that we’re with each other, we going to continue to get better. We’ve just got to continue to work hard throughout the week and prepare because ultimately that’s the only way you can go have success.”

Commanders vs. Legends injury report for Thursday

Commanders coach Mike Riley works with the receivers at practice Thursday at Central Catholic High School. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders coach Mike Riley works with the receivers at practice Thursday at Central Catholic High School. – photo by Joe Alexander
From a Commanders news release

SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation Thurs. Participation
TE Cole Hunt Lower Leg DNP DNP
DL Joey Mbu Ankle DNP Limited
TE Evan Rodriguez Illness – DNP
DB Zack Sanchez Illness – DNP

ATLANTA LEGENDS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation Thurs. Participation
DL Tavaris Barnes Shoulder DNP DNP
RB Lawrence Pittman Ankle DNP DNP
S Ed Reynolds, Jr Groin Limited Limited
QB Matt Simms Finger DNP Limited
DB Damian Swann Ankle DNP DNP
WR Ervin Philips Groin Limited DNP

Did Not Participate in Practice (DNP)

Commanders vs. Legends injury report for Wednesday

San Antonio Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II (20) and linebacker Joel Lanning (57) on Wednesday at Central Catholic High School in the team's first practice since Sunday's road victory over the Arizona Hotshots. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow II (20) and linebacker Joel Lanning (57) on Wednesday at Central Catholic High School in the team’s first practice since Sunday’s road victory over the Arizona Hotshots. – photo by Joe Alexander

From Commanders news release

SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation
TE Cole Hunt Lower Leg DNP
DL Joey Mbu Ankle DNP

ATLANTA LEGENDS

Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation
DL Tavaris Barnes Shoulder DNP
RB Lawrence Pittman Ankle DNP
S Ed Reynolds, Jr Groin Limited
QB Matt Simms Finger DNP
DB Damian Swann Ankle DNP
WR Ervin Philips Groin Limited

Did Not Participate in Practice (DNP)

Mike Riley on the Commanders’ defense and interceptions

San Antonio Commanders coach Mike Riley (left) and general manager Daryl Johnston on Wednesday at Central Catholic High School in the team's first practice since Sunday's road victory over the Arizona Hotshots. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders coach Mike Riley (left) and general manager Daryl Johnston on Wednesday at Central Catholic High School in the team’s first practice since Sunday’s road victory over the Arizona Hotshots. – photo by Joe Alexander
The San Antonio Commanders’ first road game of the season resulted in a loss to the San Diego Fleet that saw the defense get burned for big plays.

In the last two games the Commanders defense has not only shown the ability to clamp down, but has been producing turnovers. In those two games, the Commanders came up with road victories including a 29-25 win over the Arizona Hotshots. The Commanders had three interceptions in the first half against Arizona. Strong safety Derron Smith had two of those, including one he returned for the first touchdown of the game.

“I think what everybody knows, sometimes you have to get burned a little bit to bring you back to earth,” Commanders head coach Mike Riley said. “While you want to in every way be aggressive, I coached the secondary for for a long time so I understand the mentality and I like it, but you have to be able to blend in that aggressiveness with really, really doing your job. If your job is the deep third, you have to play the deep third. If your job is man to man, you can’t give up the big one.

“So many times football is about what you can’t have happen. The secondary there is no better place to describe it than that.”

Four Commanders defensive backs have multiple interceptions on the season. Cornerback De’Vante Bausby is tied for the league lead with three and cornerback Zack Sanchez and safeties Orion Stewart and Smith have two each.

“I think there are some guys a lot of them with good instincts,” Riley said. “Everybody has the assignment. Like in the secondary everyone has a job like a man or an area. But there’s also a special guy called an interceptor. They don’t all have that quality. Sometimes you get a great cover guy who really doesn’t have many interceptions. A bump and run guy who is in their face and you don’t see the guy catch many balls but you don’t get many turnovers from him. So there is a tradeoff. And that’s a good tradeoff.

“But the other guy you can sometimes have some vision on the quarterback while he’s doing his job. That was a great example of Derron Smith the other day. He really was just playing an area. The quarterback extended. He had his eye on him the whole way and the quarterback obviously didn’t see him. Some guys have instincts. They’re opportunistic. They’re aggressive. A like all those parts.”

In the case of Smith, he not only made the interception on the Hotshots’ first drive, his 66-yard return produced the first points of the game. The Commanders took a lead even before their first possession and led the rest of the game.