TAMPA — What started as a most valuable player-type season ended with a thud as the Storm placed QB Adrian McPherson on season-ending injured reserve Thursday.
"Obviously, it's a big letdown because he was having a very good season," said Storm coach Dave Ewart, whose team has lost four in a row since a 7-4 start and has not clinched a playoff berth entering tonight's game at San Antonio.
"Injuries are a part of sports, but you hate to see it."
The Arena League allows teams to activate two players from injured reserve during the season. The Storm previously activated DB Rashad Barksdale and QB Shane Boyd.
"The guys understand that it's next man up," Ewart said. "You can't let injuries get you down."
McPherson, out since hyperextending his right knee June 15, put up historic stats during his first season with the Storm. The former Bradenton Southeast High and Florida State star set a league record for quarterbacks with 31 rushing touchdowns. That still leads the league overall. His 415 rushing yards are second, and he threw for 3,151 yards, 59 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Rookie Randy Hippeard, McPherson's replacement, has thrown for 759 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
"We lose a little in terms of athletic ability. But just like Adrian did, (Hippeard) is taking care of the ball," Ewart said. "And the more he plays, the better he gets."
Playoff Picture: To clinch its first berth since 2010, the Storm needs a win and a loss by either Orlando (home against Iowa tonight) or New Orleans (at Arizona tonight). A win and losses by both Orlando and New Orleans clinches the top wild-card berth. The Storm is two games ahead of both with three to play. Jacksonville clinched the South Division title last week.
New Faces: It was a busy week of transactions. Tampa Bay signed OLs Bruce McCaleb and Maurice Robinson. It also activated DBs Chris Smith and De'Audra Dix and DL Paul Griffin from inactive reserve. The team signed WR Justin Hilton and moved DL Pernell Phillips up from recallable reassignment. The club released FB Nick Torresso, placed DB Jerrell Gavins and DL Claude Davis on league suspension and moved FB Jeff Tow-Arnett to injured reserve.
Record Watch: WR Joe Hills needs two touchdown catches to break the team record of 37 set by Tampa Bay Tech graduate Tyrone Timmons in 2010.