TAMPA — It has been a quiet week around the Tampa Bay Times Forum with the Storm on a bye week. According to the collective bargaining agreement, teams are given a full week off from practice and workouts.
And with the Storm mired in a season-worst three-game losing streak, the break couldn't have come at a better time.
"I do like playing 'Team Bye,' " coach Dave Ewart said. "They can never seem to win a game."
The Storm (7-7) seemed primed for one of the four playoff spots in the American Conference three weeks ago, but with four weeks remaining in the regular season that appears tenuous. The division winners from the South and East make the postseason, joined by the next two best records regardless of division.
"After playing 14 straight games, these guys need a break," Ewart said. "Hopefully we can get some guys healed up and ready to go."
Tampa Bay trails division-leading Jacksonville (9-5) by two games but would qualify if the season ended today. Orlando is 5-8 while Pittsburgh and New Orleans are 3-10.
The Storm hosts the Power on July 20 before wrapping up the regular season at Jacksonville the following week.
Instant Replay: Tampa Bay was on the unfortunate end of an odd Arena Football League instant replay rule last week against Chicago.
The Rush went for a two-point conversion on an untimed down and was successful when Reggie Gray caught the ball in the left flat and dived toward the end zone. Ewart, who was positioned on the field and about 10 yards away from Gray when it happened, wanted to challenge but couldn't because the Storm was out of timeouts.
Here's the quirky part. The call could have been reviewable in the final minute by the upstairs official, a rule that applies only when the game is on national television.
Ellingson Makes Team: Former Storm WR Greg Ellingson has made the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats roster.
Ellingson, who starred at Robinson High School, was off to a fantastic start in his first season for the Storm before being signed by Hamilton. He ranked seventh in the AFL with 71 catches and fifth in receiving yards with 987 before heading north.
McPherson Set To Return: QB Adrian McPherson is likely to return under center when the Storm hosts Spokane on July 6.
The former Florida State standout hyperextended his knee in a June 15 loss at New Orleans and did not play last week against Chicago. Randy Hippeard, making his first career start with Tampa Bay, went 25-of-38 for 315 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions against the Rush.
"I anticipate he will be out there (against Spokane)," Ewart said. "Adrian's a competitor and nobody wants to get Wally Pipp-ed."
Ewart said he also expects DBs Vance Cuff and De'Audra Dix to return as well but wasn't sure on the status of C Brad Serini, who left with a knee injury on the first play of the Chicago game and did not return.