TAMPA — The Storm trimmed its roster to the league maximum 23 players this week with no major surprises but several tough decisions. Coach Tim Marcum said Wednesday after the Storm's walkthrough that the backup quarterback position — won by former Florida State player Drew Weatherford over B.J. Hall — was one of the most difficult.
"(The backup quarterback position) was a real tough one," Marcum said. "You have to look at the whole body of work during two-a-days, but Drew made several good throws on his last series (during last week's preseason game against Orlando) and that was a big part of the decision. I thought on that last series he looked like a quarterback."
Marcum emphasized the roster cuts were trickier because of the amount of practice time. The Storm had roughly three weeks of practice time and one exhibition game.
"The evaluation period is so short," Marcum said. "The NFL has five weeks and four preseason games to evaluate."
Ten rookies dot the roster, including local products K Garrett Rivas (Jesuit), CB Deonte Bolden (Lakewood) and Weatherford (Land O'Lakes). DL Jermaine Smith, 38, is the oldest player on the roster while WR/DB Anthony Ivy is the youngest at 24 years and four months.
Storm Ranked No. 2: The Arena Football League Writers Association placed the Storm second in the opening top eight poll, three points behind first-place Chicago. The Storm received one first-place vote and finished with 50 points compared with Chicago's 53. Dallas garnered the most first-place votes with four, but ranked third with 49 points. Tulsa, the Storm's opponent in the opener Saturday, didn't make the top eight but did lead all teams receiving votes.
Moving on up: Tulsa makes its AFL debut against the Storm after a decade in the defunct AFL2. The Talons are the winningest team in AFL2 history and captured Arena Cup championships in 2003 and 2007. During their AFL2 run, the Talons won eight straight division championships, two conference titles and appeared in all 10 playoffs.
AFL meets NFL: NFL Network personalities Paul Burmeister and Solomon Wilcots will serve as the announcers for the debut of the AFL "Game of the Week" on the NFL Network at 8 Friday night between Chicago and Iowa. The network will air 18 prime-time games throughout the season. The Storm will be featured five times, including games against Jacksonville (May 7), Orlando (May 28), Bossier City-Shreveport (June 25), Chicago (July 2) and Dallas (July 9).
Did You Know? Talons coach Mitch Allner is the only person to have won an AFL2 championship as a player and a coach. Allner coached the Talons to the Arena Cup in 2007 and played wide receiver for five seasons, including three with the Talons.