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Tampa Bay Storm's young players get a taste of game day from preseason loss

TAMPA — Little went right Monday night in Tampa Bay's preseason opener as the Storm barely resembled a team that reached the ArenaBowl, losing to Jacksonville 56-19.

The good news? It didn't count.

Tampa Bay looked sluggish on offense, turning the ball over four times. Tampa Bay also took a pair of safeties and turned the ball over once on downs. Although the score appeared lopsided, the majority of starters with secured positions played only a possession or two.

"We had a lot of young guys running around out there, and we kept the playbook pretty simple for them," first-year coach Dave Ewart said.

With 26 rookies currently in camp, the game provided the coaching staff a chance to evaluate players getting their first Arena League snaps.

"It's a totally different game when the bullets start flying," Ewart said. "It's not like (outdoor) football where the fans are way back. It's a high-pressure, high-intensity environment with the fans right on top of you that these guys have to get used to."

Ewart said he "isn't the kind of guy who takes positives from a loss," but he did point out the offensive line played well.

"I can promise you one thing," he said. "We are going to get better."

Kaleita Returns: The Storm bolstered its offensive line this week with the signing of OL Tom Kaleita, who is coming off an All-Arena season. He surrendered one sack in 19 games last year and also caught a pair of touchdowns.

"Obviously, Tom returning is big," Ewart said. "He's only going to make that group up front better."

The Storm also added OL Ryan McDonald, who spent time on the San Diego Chargers practice squad in 2009-10, and former Florida International DB/WR Markihe Anderson. To make room on the roster, DB Ken Heatly and DL Cedrick Fisher were placed on the physically unable to perform list and WR/DB Pat Clark was released.

Still Looking: Although there are a number of positions up for grabs, perhaps the shakiest is kicker. Massimo Scaccia was brought in before the Jacksonville game but was released Tuesday. The team signed former Clearwater High kicker Kyle Chilton on Wednesday in advance of tonight's game against Orlando.

"Kyle will have every opportunity to win the job," Ewart said.

Cheap Date: The Storm hosts Orlando at 7:30 tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum in the final preseason game. Admission is free, doors open at 6:30, and all food and drinks are half price.

Tampa Bay Storm's young players get a taste of game day from preseason loss 03/02/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 9:36pm]
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