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Quinton Flowers inactive for Sunday’s Vipers game

USF product left team earlier this week and hasn’t returned
Tampa Bay Vipers quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) looks on during practice at Plant City Stadium in Plant City, Florida on Wednesday, January 29, 2020.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
Tampa Bay Vipers quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) looks on during practice at Plant City Stadium in Plant City, Florida on Wednesday, January 29, 2020. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]

TAMPA — Vipers quarterback Quinton Flowers is still away from the team for “personal reasons” and will not play in tonight’s prime-time XFL home game against the D.C. Defenders.

Flowers was among the Vipers’ pregame inactives on Sunday, though because he received a roster exemption designation, the team can fill his spot with another player for the game.

Coach Marc Trestman said Wednesday that Flowers, who expressed his frustration with his role in the offense following last week’s 34-27 home loss to the Houston Roughnecks, left the team but remained a possibility for this week.

On Friday’s final injury report, he was still away from the team for non-injury reasons and was listed as doubtful.

Flowers is a fan favorite from his days starring at USF, and there were boos from the crowd last week for Vipers starter Taylor Cornelius just two offensive series into the game. Flowers came in the following series and led the Vipers to their first offensive touchdown of the season, but he played just one more series before returning to the sideline for the remainder of the game.

Flowers, a dual-threat quarterback who left USF as the American Athletic Conference’s all-time total offense leader, is averaging nearly five yards a carry. And given the fact that the Vipers’ offensive strength has been the running game — they rank second in the league in rushing — Trestman’s decision to not play Flowers’ more often is a peculiar one.

Cornelius will start again tonight, with Aaron Murray ready to play off the bench, even though he’s not fully recovered from a foot injury that sidelined him the past two games.

Meanwhile, Flowers’ future with the Vipers is uncertain. If he doesn’t return to the team, the Vipers would still retain his rights, so he couldn’t play elsewhere unless he was traded or received his outright release.

Meanwhile, the crowd and stadium parking lots are a lot less full an hour before kickoff than during last week’s home opener. The fact that the Vipers are playing on a Sunday night could be a factor, or it could be that some fans have already become frustrated by the team’s 0-3 start and the controversy revolving around Flowers.

Veteran receiver S.J. Green, who starred in the CFL and won three Grey Cups under Trestman, is active this week. The Vipers acquired him in a trade two weeks ago.

Tight end Nick Truesdell will miss his second straight game with a knee injury.

The Vipers’ other inactives are quarterback Chase Litton (Wharton High), cornerback Jalen Collins, guard Daronte Bouldin, defensive tackle Kellen Soulek and defensive tackle Shane Bowman.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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