Daryl Johnston on why Logan Woodside became Commanders’ starting QB

San Antonio quarterbacks Logan Woodside (right) and Marquise Williams this week as the Commanders prepared for Sunday's game against the Orlando Apollos. - photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio quarterbacks Logan Woodside (right) and Marquise Williams this week as the Commanders prepared for Sunday’s game against the Orlando Apollos. – photo by Joe Alexander
The San Antonio Commanders scored their only touchdown of the season opener on a 3-yard run.

That scoring run, however, was set up by the Commanders’ longest offensive play of the game – a 46-yard pass from Logan Woodside to Alonzo Moore.

The long pass was an example of why Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston said Woodside earned the starting quarterback position.

“When you have the opportunity to have explosive plays like we did to Alonzo Moore down to the goal line, that makes the offense’s job that much easier,” Johnston said. “So to have that faith, that trust to turn that ball loose and to know your wide receiver is going to go up and make a play or keep that defense from making a play, that’s a big step. We felt that’s where Logan had made strides toward the end of training camp.”

Johnston won three Super Bowl as a fullback with the Dallas Cowboys. His outlook on offense was influenced by former Cowboys offensive coordinator Norv Turner and the part long passes played in Turner’s approach. Commanders coach Mike Riley, while a big proponent of a strong running game, also includes long pass plays in his game plan.

“I love the way Mike constructs the vertical elements in this passing game,” Johnston said. “Logan is the one guy, and this is a phrase Norv always talked about, turn the ball loose. When you get one-on-one, we should win that. Logan is the one quarterback, and Marquise (Williams) is getting a little better at it, of trusting our guys in one-on-one situations – that they’re going to make a play and that nothing negative is going to happen.”

For the game, Woodside completed 18-of-36 passes for 255 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions and was sacked three times.

Woodside also completed a 37-yard pass to Greg Ward Jr. and a 22-yard pass to Mekale McKay.

“We consider one-on-one vs. our guys a win for us,” Johnston said. “Logan is the one guy who has really kind of bought into that. We’re starting to see Marquise do it a little bit more. And it’s the area we’re going to try to push Dustin (Vaughan) to, because I still really feel that Dustin throws the best football out here.

“When we’re in skelaton and we’re throwing on air, Dustin is outstanding. When we get into the team elements I’d like to see Dustin stretch the field a little bit more and be a more aggressive. We felt that was something Logan was doing that was going to benefit us.”

Commanders QB Dustin Vaughan honing in on season opener

Former West Texas A&M and Calallen High School quarterback Dustin Vaughan is one of three QBs on the Commanders' roster heading into the season opener. - photo by Joe Alexander
Former West Texas A&M and Calallen High School quarterback Dustin Vaughan is one of three QBs on the Commanders’ roster heading into the season opener. – photo by Joe Alexander
The hours are ticking down until Saturday night.

It’s finally closing in on game day for former Calallen and West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan, who arrived in San Antonio in mid-December for Commanders mini-camp.

He and 74 teammates returned to town in the beginning of January for training camp.

At long last it’s game week for Vaughan and the rest of the players on the Commanders’ 52-man regular-season roster. The Commanders open the season Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Alamodome against the San Diego Fleet.

“I feel like we’re definitely preparing for it like we’re supposed to,” Vaughan said. “We’ve got a whole week here to get prepared, but we’re ready to start playing games. I know everyone is excited about this upcoming game on Saturday. We’re using this week to prepare for that and we’re definitely ready.

“It feels good just as a player because you can focus on game preparation, you’re not necessarily worried about am I going to make it, am I not going to make it. Getting through that point in time, obviously that point in time is important, and training camp and preparation of the installs of the offense and defense and that sort of thing.”

Because it is the first season of the Alliance of American Football (AAF), and because the Commanders will be in their first game, some details haven’t been settled. As of the end of Tuesday’s practice at Central Catholic High School, the team hadn’t publicly released a depth chart. Commanders coach Mike Riley hadn’t officially named a starting quarterback between Vaughan, Marquise Williams and Logan Woodside.

“We have a good idea how we’re going to do it,” Riley said. “We have let these guys play with even turns all the way through and I expect all these guys to be ready to play. Then we’ll see exactly how that will work as the season goes.”

For the moment, Vaughan and the Commanders have shifted their primary focus from just learning the team’s system and making the team to getting ready for the Fleet.

“This is game preparation. We’re actually preparing to play against another opponent as part of a regular season,” Vaughan said. “It feels good to be out here preparing with the 51 other guys that we’ve got on this team.”

Injury update

San Antonio Commanders report the following players did not participate in practice today:
RB Trey Williams (Foot)
CB Jordan Thomas (Thigh)
S Derron Smith (Foot)

San Diego Fleet report the following players were limited in practice today:
41 Travis Feeney (Elbow)
28 Curtis Mikell (Ankle)
81 Nelson Spruce (Calf)

Commanders move from training camp to regular-season mode as opener looms

Commanders coach Mike Riley talks with receiver De'Marcus Ayers during Thursday's practice at Central Catholic High School. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders coach Mike Riley talks with receiver De’Marcus Ayers during Thursday’s practice at Central Catholic High School. – photo by Joe Alexander
For the first time since the roster was cut down to 52 players, the San Antonio Commanders hit the practice field at Central Catholic High School on Thursday morning.

The season opener Feb. 9 at the Alamodome against the San Diego Fleet is just over a week away. The Commanders braintrust is transitioning from deciding who will make the team to who will be the starters.

“It’s interesting. All of a sudden there’s a lot less bodies out there,” Commanders head coach Mike Riley said. “But it is, like a told them today, it’s like a new beginning.

“We had a great training camp. We’ve received great hospitality here in San Antonio. It’s a great to have this as our home city. We love that part of it. This feels and is a new beginning heading into the regular season.”

Riley said the coaches have seen enough to have a good idea of who the key players will be. That will be settled in the very near future.

“We’re close. We could actually do it right now today,” Riley said of deciding the starters. “But we don’t need to yet. We’ll probably have that pretty well set starting our game week next week.”

The most visually obvious change at Thursday’s practice was that the number of bright yellow jerseys – worn by the quarterbacks – was down from four to three. Dustin Vaughan, Marquise Williams and Logan Woodside took an equal number of reps in practice. Dalton Sturm, the fourth quarterback in training camp, is not on the 52-man roster.

Although Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston said on Thursday that Vaughan is currently the team’s No. 1 quarterback, Riley hasn’t named a starter yet.

“That position is certainly a key element in what anybody does in football,” Riley said. “We are fortunate to have three guys. We really had four. Dalton was a really tough cut. I think he’s a good player. I hope he resurfaces with the Commanders some day. But we’re in good hands I think with our quarterbacking.

“We haven’t named a No. 1 quarterback yet. We’ve let them all play almost equally as we’ve gone. (Vaughan) was the first pick and he probably got the first reps all through camp and into the (practice) game the other day.”

Commanders GM Daryl Johnston on cuts, 52-man roster

Commanders GM Daryl Johnston discusses the roster cutdown to 52 players for the regular season. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders GM Daryl Johnston discusses the roster cutdown to 52 players for the regular season. – photo by Joe Alexander
San Antonio Commanders general manager Daryl Johnston has lived through player cuts as a college and NFL player.

The former Dallas Cowboys fullback was on the other side of that on Wednesday when Alliance of American Football (AAF) teams announced their 52-man rosters, down from 75 in training camp.

“Today was one of the more challenging days I’ve been a part of,” Johnston said. “We started this journey several months ago. We’ve gone from 85 down into the 60s back up to 75 and now today we had to come down to 52. There were some really hard decisions we had to make. We think we picked a very competitive 52, but time will tell.

“They’re great guys. That was the thing that made it the hardest. We had good players but we had great guys.”

The Commanders kept three quarterbacks – Dustin Vaughan, Marquise Williams and Logan Woodside. The fourth quarterback in camp, former UTSA starter Dalton Sturm, did not make the 52-man roster. Johnston said the league recommends having three quarterbacks on the roster and AAF rules call for three quarterbacks to be suited up on game day. Vaughan finished training camp as the team’s No. 1 quarterback.

Johnston said some of the toughest roster decisions were at receiver, linebacker and running back. The receiver position was complicated by some players suffering injuries in training camp and a few players joining the team late in camp.

The decision at running back was influenced by how the team performed in practice games on Sunday and Monday.

“We were prepared to go in with three running backs,” Johnston said. “We saw how well we ran the football. We saw our physical the runners were. We decided four would be better. Then Trey Williams came up with a turf toe coming out of the game.

“Aaron Green did a great job on Monday night. I’m really impressed with him not only as a runner, but special teams is something that I don’t know how much of a part of his background that was, and he’s done a really good job of embracing special teams.”

Kenneth Farrow II, David Cobb, Green and Williams are the four running backs on the roster.

Update: I just heard from wide receiver Riley Smith, who is not on the 52-man roster. Smith said he is on the injured list and expects to be activated when he is fully healthy.

Commanders quarterbacks at practice at the Alamodome

Commanders quarterbacks threw in the Alamodome on Saturday as the team practiced on its home field for the first time. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders quarterbacks threw in the Alamodome on Saturday as the team practiced on its home field for the first time. – photo by Joe Alexander
For three of the San Antonio Commanders’ four quarterbacks, Saturday’s practice at the Alamodome gave them their first chance to work out at their home stadium.

Dalton Sturm played in the Alamodome as his home college stadium with the UTSA Roadrunners.

Dustin Vaughan, Marquise Williams, Logan Woodside and Sturm are in a four-way competition to be the Commanders’ starting quarterback. They are also fighting for roster spots if the team keeps less than four quarterbacks.

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 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 quarterback Dalton Sturm at training camp: photo gallery

Commanders quarterback Dalton Sturm gets ready to cut loose a long pass to Josh Stewart on the final play of practice on Saturday. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders quarterback Dalton Sturm gets ready to cut loose a long pass to Josh Stewart on the final play of practice on Saturday. – photo by Joe Alexander
Former UTSA quarterback Dalton Sturm went through the first practice of San Antonio Commanders training camp on Saturday, taking part in the same drills as the other three quarterbacks on the roster.

That was important for Sturm, who didn’t throw during team mini-camp in December while he recovered by an elbow injury.

Sturm was part of a big connection on the final play of practice. Sturm completed a long sideline pass to wide receiver and former UTSA teammate Josh Stewart.

“There’s no doubt it’s a good sign,” Commanders head coach Mike Riley said. “It’s probably a comfort level for those guys to have somebody they’ve known for quite a while on the team so, one of the beautiful things to is as we’ve formed the team, these guys have are going to be getting closer and developing that relationship you need on a football team.”

The other quarterbacks in camp are Dustin Vaughan from West Texas A&M, Marquise Williams from North Carolina and Logan Woodside from Toledo. The four quarterbacks are competing to be the starter and probably for two or three roster spots.

“The best think about football is that it is a competition. No matter how you see it, it’s a competition with you vs. another quarterback or another receiver or whatever,” Vaughan said. “It’s also a competition when you build this team that you’re playing against somebody else, another team. We’re playing against San Diego on Feb. 9. We’re preparing for that.

“So in the midst of this there is always this competition but also too, we’re working toward a goal as a team. We’re looking forward to that.”

Commanders open training camp workouts; drop Marlon Smith; Riley Smith injured

Commanders quarterback Dustin Vaughan unleashes a pass Saturday during the team's first training camp workout. - photo by Joe Alexander
Commanders quarterback Dustin Vaughan unleashes a pass Saturday during the team’s first training camp workout. – photo by Joe Alexander

San Antonio Commanders training camp: Saturday, Jan. 5, 2018

Marlon Smith was not listed on the San Antonio Commanders’ updated training camp roster, which was handed out by the team at Saturday’s practice.

Smith had been listed as a linebacker and No. 45. The former UTSA player was with the Commanders during mini-camp in December, but did not take part in drills at that time.

Sunny skies

The players hit the field on Saturday under bright sunshine and about 63 degrees. By the time they were packing up at the end of practice, the temperature was up to 73.

“We had a lot of fun today,” Commanders quarterback Dustin Vaughan said. “It was good. We’ve been waiting for this day to get started. First day of training camp. There’s been a lot of process that has got us to this point. Finally we start with a roster of 75. We’re able to kind of start building as a team leading to the regular season.

“It was fun. We’ve got a lot of work to do. One of the last things coach (Mike) Riley talked about is from here we just keep building. That’s what we’re going to keep doing.”

First injury

The one negative from the first practice of training camp was an injury to Riley Smith, a wide receiver from West Texas A&M. Smith, who had been with the Commanders during mini-camp in December, had to be helped from the field. It looked like he had ice on the back of his left leg when he was on the sidelines.

“It’s hard to see anybody go down. It’s definitely hard to see Riley go down,” said Vaughan, who also played at West Texas A&M. “I know how much work he’s put into it.

“I also know he has been here really since the beginning. He has developed relationships with guys on this team that I know this whole team really hurts for him. I really hope that the process of recovery starts really soon and he can make a full recovery.”

No contact

Words that were repeated over and over on Saturday were “no contact”. Players are going through the early training camp practices with helmets and jerseys but no pads. Hitting is not yet part of practice.

“This is what I remember about the San Antonio Riders,” said Commanders coach Mike Riley, who coached the San Antonio Riders of the World League in the early 1990s. “These guys are really fired up to continue their playing career. They’re good players and they want to make the team.

“We’re regulated by what they can wear right now and it’s smart to start them out without full gear. It’s easy to get them back into it this way. You just have to be careful and keep reminding them that they don’t have gear on. We have to be very smart when we practice against each other and you have to be a pro. You’ve got to learn how to practice in shorts so you can get some repetition without all the big hitting all the time.”

Riley stopped practice more than once to remind the players over and over not to be hitting. That goes against the instincts of the players in the defensive secondary.

“One of the hardest things when you practice like this is for the defensive backs,” Riley said. “It’s on them to avoid the collision.”

Last play, big play

The final play of practice featured a connection between two players who were teammates at UTSA. Quarterback Dalton Sturm completed a long pass to wide receiver Josh Stewart on the sideline. Stewart had shown good hands during mini-camp and his grab at the end of Saturday’s practice was an attention-getter.

Quarterback Dalton Sturm (1) and receiver Josh Stewart (far right) celebrate a long pass completion on the final play of practice. - photo by Joe Alexander
Quarterback Dalton Sturm (1) and receiver Josh Stewart (far right) celebrate a long pass completion on the final play of practice.

Troy Polamalu

Coincidentally, in a workout that made “no contact” a priority, one of the NFL’s legendary hitters was watching from the sidelines. Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, a four-time All-Pro, is the head of player relations for the Alliance of American Football (AAF).

Worth reading is this story where Polamalu talks about his concussions and head injuries in a 2012 ESPN story:

The official game ball of the Alliance of American Football (AAF). - photo by Joe Alexander
The official game ball of the Alliance of American Football (AAF).

Quarterback Dustin Vaughan at Commanders mini-camp

Former West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan goes through quarterback drills at San Antonio Commanders mini-camp at the University of the Incarnate Word's Benson Stadium. - photo by Joe AlexanderFormer West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan goes through drills at San Antonio Commanders mini-camp at the University of the Incarnate Word’s Benson Stadium.

The Commanders open the inaugural Alliance of American Football (AAF) season on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019 at home at the Alamodome against the San Diego Fleet.