San Antonio WR Riley Smith has been placed on the reserve/injured list.
SAN ANTONIO COMMANDERS
Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation Thurs. Participation
WR De’Marcus Ayers Lower Leg DNP LP
DL Ra’Zahn Howard Knee DNP DNP
TE Cole Hunt Lower Leg LP LP
WR Mekale McKay Ankle DNP DNP
CB Zack Sanchez Hamstring DNP DNP
S Orion Stewart Head DNP LP
DL Arthur Miley Hip — DNP
OL Mason Gentry Lower Back — DNP
SALT LAKE STALLIONS
Pos Player Injury Wed. Participation Thurs. Participation
DB Cody Brown Knee Full LP
LB Gionni Paul Ankle Full DNP
DL Mike Purcell Wrist Full LP
DL Karter Shult Rib — LP
Limited Participation (LP)=less than 100% of a player’s normal reps
Did Not Participate in Practice (DNP)
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.
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.
Two days into San Antonio Commanders training camp, quarterback Marquise Williams feels at home in the team’s offense.
“I love the scheme. It’s similar to the scheme that I ran in college and also at the Green Bay Packers,” Williams said Sunday. “It’s a great scheme and I love it. A lot of RPOs and gives me a ton of time to throw it down the field. I like this offense. It’s working pretty well for us.”
Williams, who played in college at North Carolina, was picked by the Commanders in the second round of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) protect or pick quarterback draft. He is part of a four-way competition at the quarterback position in training camp with Dustin Vaughan, Logan Woodside and Dalton Sturm.
“I thought they made a ton of good plays,” Commanders head coach Mike Riley said of the quarterback play on Sunday. “When we got in that first skeleton period I thought they made a lot of great throws. I like the quarterback situation here a lot. These guys are very very professional for younger ages but you can tell they’ve learned a lot and they’re very easy to work with.”
In addition to the eight AAF teams holding their training camps in San Antonio, the city is flooded with coaches. The American Football Coaches Association is holding its annual convention here.
Riley Smith update
Commanders receiver Riley Smith, who suffered a leg injury in practice on Saturday, confirmed on Twitter that he pulled his hamstring. Smith, who played in college at West Texas A&M, said Sunday he expects to stay with the Commanders while he rehabs.
Commanders add defensive lineman
The Commanders announced they added defensive lineman Richard Ash, who played three collegiate seasons at Michigan and his final season at Western Michigan. He spent two seasons in the NFL – 2015 with the Jacksonville Jaguars and 2016 with the Dallas Cowboys.
More good weather
The Commanders’ second day of training camp workouts was under mostly cloudy skies with a little sunshine. Practice finished with a temperature of 72 degrees.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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: