TAMPA — Sometimes even the boss has trouble keeping the names straight.
When asked what player Tampa Bay signed this week to fill an empty roster spot, coach Tim Marcum paused.
"Off the top of my head I don't know his name," he said. "I think I have old timer's disease."
Marcum may have been kidding about his memory, but keeping track of the Storm roster can be tricky.
"In Arena Football we can keep toying (with the roster) and plugging guys relatively easily because the playbooks aren't as thick as the NFL," Marcum said. "We can try a guy out during the week and have him ready to go with one or two practices."
Since the beginning of the season on April 3, the Storm has maintained an organic approach to its roster. Perpetually in motion, the roster has reflected Marcum's ever-changing idea of the team.
"You tinker and try to fill holes that pop up after games with injuries and things," Marcum said. "There's a bunch of guys on the streets who can play this game."
And the man in charge of keeping track of those players "on the streets" is assistant head coach Dave Ewart. Without the resources of a massive player personnel division such as the Bucs', Ewart relies on video, a hefty Rolodex and a long memory to help improve the Storm week by week.
"Dave is our point man," Marcum said. "He's got great player recall and tons of tape."
The Storm has signed nine players since the opener, with six still on the roster. Some were players the Storm gave a look in training camp while others have been cut by the NFL, Canadian Football League or the United Football League.
"It is a huge advantage in this league to be able to bring in guys for a series of two, once-a-day practices with the team," Ewart said.
Defensive back Erick McIntosh was one of those brought in for a tryout. McIntosh has been named defensive player of the game the past two weeks, in addition to being named AFL defensive player of the week against Alabama on June 11.
"It makes for a better, spirited practice," he said. "Think about if someone showed up at your job and the boss was giving him a tryout right in front of you."
Marcum said this in-your-face type of tryout allows him to better judge incoming players while putting his roster players on notice.
"Competition makes everything better," he said. "We want guys (nervous) a little at times."
Sometimes players come and go with few even noticing. With injuries to the offensive line and nothing jumping out at the Storm on the waiver wire, Marcum called his old friend Lincoln Kennedy to play in just one game, a 65-40 win at Utah. Kennedy, a three-time NFL Pro Bowl selection, suited up against the Blaze and was placed on the suspended list after the game.
Others, such as linebacker James Bear and offensive lineman Greg Hammond, have come and gone multiple times. Bear has been signed, cut, re-signed and recut since training camp. And the season is just past the halfway point.
"We want the best team on the field week in and week out," Marcum said. "And it can always get better."