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It's good kicks or goodbye for Gramatica

Bill Gramatica "better kick his a-- off" Sunday against Kansas City if he wants to keep his job with the Storm, coach Tim Marcum said Tuesday.

Gramatica, formerly of USF and younger brother of ex-Bucs kicker Martin Gramatica, missed an extra point and had three kickoffs, including an onside kick, go out of bounds during a 58-48 victory over league-leading Austin on Saturday.

Gramatica has made 3 of 10 field goals, including a long of 26 yards, and 31 of 35 extra points in five games. He has struggled on kickoffs, particularly onside kicks, during his first Arena League season.

Though the Storm (3-2) is talking with other kickers, Marcum said he expects Gramatica to play against the Brigade (1-4).

"As I see it right now, he probably will be kicking," Marcum said. "This will be his sixth game. We've got quite awhile with him. In the past, before I have mellowed, I probably would have made a change a little earlier."

Marcum typically has had little patience with kickers, rifling through eight during the 2003-04 seasons.

Matt George, the most consistent of the bunch, opted not to return after last season to devote attention to his job printing 70-mm film of Hollywood movies, including The Polar Express and Batman Begins. George worked in Los Angeles during the week and flew to games on weekends last season.

"Evidently, the kid didn't want to kick any more," Marcum said.

TWICE AS NICE: Shane Stafford was the league's and ArenaFan Online's offensive player of the week after he became the first quarterback in league history to pass for 400 yards in consecutive games. Stafford was 26-of-41 for 424 yards and seven touchdowns against Austin one week after he threw for 458 yards in a 67-64 overtime loss to Orlando. Wide receiver/linebacker Lawrence Samuels was ArenaFan Online's two-way player of the week. He had three receptions for 80 yards, a forced fumble and an interception.

GOT HIS BACK: Short kick returns have played a part, regularly forcing the Storm to start drives inside its 5-yard line, but the unsung hero behind Stafford's recent passing prowess is an offensive line that has improved significantly since the opener, a 52-34 loss to Philadelphia.

Centers A.J. Ricker and Rod Williams, guards Buck Gurley and Nyle Wiren and tight ends Ernest Certain and Ricky Hall allowed just four pressures and a sack against Austin. Mondre Dickerson suited up in place of Greg Taplin at the seventh lineman spot.

"We're protecting the (heck) out of me, and that's really showing, being able to get back there and make some throws," Stafford said.

WOUNDED WARRIOR: Marcum planned to call New York quarterback Aaron Garcia to offer his condolences after Garcia broke his right leg during a 55-35 victory over Orlando on Sunday. An offensive lineman rolled over Garcia's leg as he stepped into the pocket to throw during the third quarter. Garcia, the first pro player in any league to throw for 700 touchdowns, is out indefinitely.

"You hate to see a great warrior like that (get hurt), because he is a warrior," Marcum said. "We split his chin last year. I don't know how many stitches he took, but he just continued to stand up and throw touchdowns. He's a tough son of a gun."

NO SOLUTION: Jonathan Ordway will be back in the mix at kick returner after Lynaris Elpheage had trouble fielding the ball off the net Saturday. Elpheage replaced Ordway after special teams turnovers in three previous games led to touchdowns for opponents.

"I don't see why not," Marcum said. "He didn't fumble any more (than Elpheage)."

STORM FLURRIES: Offensive specialist Freddie Solomon (foot) and defensive specialist Tramain Jones (neck) are eligible to come off injured reserve, but Marcum said he won't know how soon either will be able to play until he sees them on the practice field today. The team was off Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

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