Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Storm

Tampa Bay Storm starts playoff push with tough test

TAMPA — Storm coach Dave Ewart dismissed any talk of the playoffs after Saturday's 71-56 home loss to San Antonio.

"I ain't worried about the playoffs," he said. "We've got to worry about winning a game."

Tampa Bay, losers of three straight, can take a step in the right direction tonight when it hosts Philadelphia, the Arena Football League's top team.

"We've got to get some momentum back," Ewart said.

The two division winners and two wild cards in each conference make the playoffs. Philadelphia (12-3) has clinched the East, and Jacksonville (7-7) leads the South. With four games left, the Storm (6-8) is tied with Cleveland, a half-game behind Georgia (7-8) and a game behind New Orleans (7-7).

Tampa Bay split two games each with Cleveland and Georgia. It lost to New Orleans on April 6 and faces it again July 14.

Brotherly love? The Soul blasted the Storm 83-48 on April 20 in Philadelphia in a game not as close as the score indicated. The Soul led 48-14 at halftime and if it hadn't taken its foot off the gas in the second half, it could have eclipsed the league record of 99 points.

"We have to slow the game down," Ewart said. "(Last time), we tried to get out and run with them. We have to shorten things up."

Missing Williams: When the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League signed WR/KR Chandler Williams two weeks ago, it was unclear how his absence would affect the Storm. After losing two games, Ewart had no problem assessing the damage.

"He was the best football player on this team, period," he said. "Huge loss."

Williams was second on the team in catches (83) and receiving yards (994) and third in touchdowns (17). Williams also had emerged as the main kickoff returner with 839 yards and three touchdowns.

"He was explosive in the return game," Ewart said. "That's hard to replace."

Roster moves: The team will get some help in the kickoff return game tonight after activating Michael Lindsey from injured reserve. Lindsey, the primary kick returner last year, filled the role for seven games before sustaining what the team called only a leg injury. He has 31 returns this season for 562 yards. To make room, DL Richard Jones, who had 15½ tackles in 12 games, was released. … DB Roderick Jenrette, a standout at Tampa's Chamberlain High, signed. He replaces DB Erick McIntosh. The Storm's leading tackler with 72½ went on injured reserve with what was called a lower-body injury.