TAMPA — There are no players more isolated — or vulnerable — than Arena Football League cornerbacks.
"You slip, and you're dead," Storm CB Vance Cuff said. "You stick out like a sore thumb."
In a league in which touchdowns are the norm and safeties and linebackers rarely help on coverage, cornerbacks have nothing on which to fall back.
"You mess up, and it's six points," Cuff said. "And no matter how well you do your job, you're going to get beat sometimes."
Those times have been few and far between of late for the Storm. After failing to record an interception in the season-opening loss to Jacksonville, the Storm has recorded one in six consecutive games and two in each of the past three entering tonight's game at San Jose.
"We got no pressure on the quarterback in that first game," Cuff said. "The D line came to us and said they were going to take care of that.
"And they have been working harder than anyone else to get it done."
Indeed, the Storm's recent surge in interceptions has come with an increase in quarterback pressure. Since the loss to Jacksonville, Tampa Bay has 11 sacks, including a season-high four in last week's 63-32 victory against South Division rival New Orleans.
Chris Smith leads the team with four interceptions. De'Audra Dix has three, and Cuff got his first last week against the VooDoo, taking it back 30 yards for a touchdown.
"(Defensive backs coach Doug Kay) is always telling us to play our game, use our talents and trust our abilities," Cuff said. "And he's putting us in the right positions to make those plays."
Last season, the Storm had a minus-10 turnover margin. This season it's plus-12. Coach Dave Ewart said bringing in Kay, who has been an assistant coach and head coach during his 16 seasons in the Arena League, has been a huge boost.
"I'm just honored to be around and coach with a guy like that," he said of Kay, the defensive coordinator for ArenaBowl champion Arizona in 1997. "He's the best of the best."
TRANSACTIONS: The Storm signed OL Abdul Kuyateh this week. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder started 26 games while at the University of Louisville, spent time with the Bucs in 2010 after going undrafted, and spent the past two seasons in other indoor leagues. To make room, OL Alfred McCullough went on the suspended list. Details were not disclosed.