TAMPA — Good news for Joe Hills. Bad news for the Storm and its fans.
Hills, one of the Arena Football League's top receivers, was invited Thursday to the Carolina Panthers' rookie minicamp, meaning his days with the Storm could be over.
"I'm happy for Joe," Storm coach Dave Ewart said. "You never want to lose a player like him, but it's part of the gig."
Hills, in his second season with the Storm, has been outstanding. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder from Tennessee State leads the league in receiving yards (769), is second in touchdown catches (17) and third in catches (48).
The Storm placed Hills, who was cut by the NFL's Titans at the end of training camp in 2011, on the Other League Exempt list Thursday. That allows Tampa Bay to retain Hills' rights should he not stick with the Panthers, whose minicamp is May 10-12.
"He could be back after that," Ewart said. "We'll just have to wait and see."
Taking Hills' place on the roster is Jason Chery, who was cut during training camp. Chris Davis, a standout at Florida State and St. Petersburg Catholic, is expected to take Hills' spot in the starting lineup tonight against New Orleans.
"We preach next man up," Ewart said, "so it's someone's turn to step up."
Awards: For the second time this season, QB Adrian McPherson was named AFL offensive player of the week. He accounted for 10 touchdowns (seven passing, three rushing) in a 70-62 win at previously unbeaten Spokane on April 27. He also was 21-of-26 for 310 yards and rushed for 50 yards.
The former FSU standout also was named the league's pulse player of the week, an award recognizing work in the community.
McPherson volunteers at the Boys & Girls Clubs in his hometown of Bradenton, recently began working with quarterbacks at Sarasota's Out-of-Door Academy and is in the process of starting a foundation to raise funding and awareness for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).
"Every time I come home, I'm always at the Boys & Girls Clubs. That's where I grew up," said McPherson, whose 1,548 passing yards are fourth in the league and 233 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns first.
"Fortunately for me, my father has always been there and my parents are still married, so I had that guidance and that father figure. But a lot of my friends and cousins made some decisions that they wouldn't have made had there been a positive male influence in their life."
Camay in again: For the second week in a row, Craig Camay will handle kicking duties. He was signed prior to the Spokane game and made all 10 of his extra points (the Storm didn't attempt a field goal.) Juan Bongarra went to the hospital with chest pains during the third quarter against Orlando on April 20. His return remains unknown.
Late game: The Storm plays its lone 9 p.m. home game of the season tonight. Beginning at 7 on the Thunder Alley Stage, there will be margarita specials while local band Point 6 plays. On the East Plaza, there will be craft beer tasting from 7 to 9.
Schedule change: The game at San Jose has been moved from May 11 to May 10 (still 10:30) to accommodate a possible Game 6 of the Sharks-Canucks NHL playoff series.