I attended part of the Spokane Shock's first training-camp practice today, conducted by new head coach Rob Keefe (pictured above). You can read my unedited article below that will run in Tuesday's S-R.
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Rob Keefe has always been high energy on the football field as a player and an assistant coach. You didn’t expect him to change now that he’s the head coach of the Spokane Shock?
Keefe conducted his first training-camp practice Monday at team headquarters in
It was Keefe’s first on-field glance at roughly 40 players that will be trimmed to 23 in less than two weeks.
Keefe bounced around the periphery of the drills, jotting down notes and barking out instructions, primarily to receivers and defensive backs.
“Today was Christmas, it really was, like opening up a whole bunch of presents,” he said. “I haven’t felt this way in a very long time. I miss playing a lot but I’m so happy to be a coach.”
A few Shock players were teammates of Keefe’s on
“He’s fired up, man,” McCombs said. “It’s easy to play for a guy that really wants to win and has fun doing it.”
There were five players absent, including high-profile additions Jeremy Unertl, Jamarr Ward, ex-Washington Husky Juan Garcia, and Brigham Harwell, who played in the UFL last season. They are fielding calls from UFL and CFL teams before deciding whether to join the Shock. Bryan Save was released and is expected to join a UFL team.
“You always have to be prepared that 5-6 guys in camp might be going to go somewhere else, which is good,” Keefe said. “It’s the same thing with (ex-Shock receiver) Charles Dillon (who recently signed with the Green Bay Packers). Of course I wanted him here but that’s the goal.”
Keefe liked what he saw on opening day.
“In 6, 7 months we truly put together an AFL team, a top tier team is what we believe we are,” he said.
There’s an interesting mix among the 40 players. Ed Ta’amu played for
“Coming from the AFL, I wasn’t expecting much because in my mind this was still the ‘deuce’ (af2) and all they did was buy the name,” Ta’amu said. “But with the talent they’ve put together, they have a chance to make a run for the championship. … Yes, I was on the 2006 team and yes, I know the coaches and owners and some of the front-office people, but my chances of making the team are just like the next guy’s.”
“Your timing and anticipation has to be on point, especially with the guy in motion,” said Meyer, who joins ex-EWU teammates Raul Vijil and Harrison Nikolao on the Shock roster. “You can’t be late in this game or it’s incomplete or an interception.”
Receiver Huey Whittaker was All-AFL in 2008 with
“When there’s a resume of a winner, it’s hard to overlook that,” Whittaker said of choosing