The San Antonio Commanders hit the practice field Saturday morning with two weeks left until the season opener.
The Commanders open Saturday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. against the San Diego Fleet at the Alamodome.
“It was pretty smooth as far as everybody just kind of getting assignments, getting plays called,” Commanders coach Mike Riley said.
The team’s sessions on Sunday and Monday are not open to the public.
“We’re still kind of in training camp mode,” Riley said. “We have a preseason game coming up which will be good for us. But we are really just still trying to do what we need to do for camp.”
Wide receiver Alonzo Moore, who played for Riley at Nebraska, took part in his first practice since being signed by the Commanders. The team had a roster spot open after offensive lineman Jared Machorro was waived (injured) on Thursday.
Ra’Zahn Howard brings the experience of a college career in a big conference to playing a big man’s position at the professional level.
The 315-pound nose tackle from Purdue expects the lessons he learned in the Big 10 to pay off with the San Antonio Commanders.
“It’s awesome. Every Saturday playing in the Big 10 you’re going against NFL caliber linemen – Wisconsin and Michigan State back to back” Howard said. “It kind of makes the transition a lot easier.
“The competition, you’re used to it playing against guys from different conferences and all over the world. Big 10 and SEC are notorious for producing some of the best linemen. I would say it’s definitely an advantage from that point of view.”
Howard spent three seasons at Purdue, playing in 11 games as a junior in 2015. He signed with the Houston Texans as a free agent in the summer of 2016.
He likes what he has seen so far in his defensive teammates at Commanders training camp at Central Catholic High School.
“I’ve seen a group of crazed animals, I like to describe our defense,” Howard said. “Relentless, fast to the ball, guys that are excited to be out here and excited to learn. We’re playing fast. We’ve got chemistry. We’ve got a great coaching staff, a great defensive coordinator.
“Our defensive line coach, coach Mac (Jeff McInerney) does a real good job of working with us with details. He’s always coaching details because at the end of the day we’ve all got talent and ability, but if you’re not detailed, you can’t put it together.”
The Alliance of American Football (AAF), which includes the Commanders, has been looked at as a place for pro football players to get a second chance – and sometimes a last chance.
“I feel like you got a bunch of guys out here with nothing to lose,” Howard said. “They say a man with nothing to lose is dangerous. You’ve got guys flying around on both sides of the ball. It’s excitement. You can feel the tension and energy every day you come out here. It’s a blessing, definitely.”