TAMPA — Following the Storm's season-opening loss at Tulsa on April 3, coach Tim Marcum said he expected "to make a number of significant changes during the bye week."
Bringing in the most decorated receiver in Arena football history certainly qualifies.
Tampa Bay announced the signing of longtime Storm great and the Arena league's all-time leader in receptions (1,020), Lawrence Samuels, on Monday. This marks Samuels' 15th season with the Storm and 16th in the Arena league.
"It sure is real nice to see No. 22 on the practice field again," Marcum said. "Lawrence is a consummate professional, and we are glad to see him in the blue and gold."
Samuels, who turns 40 on May 1, also holds Arena league records for consecutive games with a reception (135), fumble recoveries (34), seasons played with one team (15) and games played by a skill position player (203). Samuels didn't participate in the Storm's training camp, but there were rumblings after the preseason game against Orlando that he would return.
"I am excited to be back," Samuels said. "My legs feel great, and I feel rejuvenated with the time off that we had."
Samuels is fourth in league history with eight interceptions returned for touchdowns, fifth in receiving yards (11,708) and adds versatility on defense.
Other Moves: The Storm also signed WR Cleannord Saintil and FB/LB James Bear. Saintil played for San Jose from 2007-08, catching 136 passes for 1,684 yards and 42 touchdowns in 21 games.
"Cleannord is a smooth route runner, and he provides us a lot of options on offense," Marcum said.
Bear spent training camp with the Storm and last season with arenafootball2's Florida Firecats.
"We are looking for a spark on the defensive side of the ball," Marcus said. "And we think Dusty can add that for us."
Familiar Faces: Fans expecting to see former Storm QB Shane Stafford are out of luck. Dallas placed Stafford on injured reserve this week and replaced him with B.J. Hall, who was cut by the Storm after training camp.
In five seasons in Tampa Bay, Stafford set franchise season records for completions (408), passing yards (4,793), touchdown passes (86) — all in 2006 — and career records for completions (1,357), passing yards (15,667) and touchdown passes (289).
Brett Dietz matched Stafford's 86 touchdowns in 2008.
Home Cooking: The Storm opens its home schedule at 7:30 p.m. Friday against the Dallas Vigilantes at the St. Pete Times Forum. Marcum was told to expect "10,000 to 12,000" fans.
"That would be an excellent number, but we want more," Marcum said. "We still have to get the word out that we're back."
Common Thread: The Storm and Dallas each lost their season opener to Tulsa. Dallas outgained the Talons 374-188 on April 10, but Tulsa overcame a 17-point second-half deficit to win 63-59.