Antwan Marsh hasn’t played in a football game since 2006 and he’s never played in an official arena football game.
If that’s not challenging enough, Marsh also faces the task of replacing Kevin McCullough, the former Shock ‘Jack’ linebacker who was traded to Oklahoma City last week, when Spokane takes on Orlando on Saturday night.
While Marsh lacks arena experience, his athleticism suggests he can handle the job. Head coach Rob Keefe is counting on it after making the bold decision to deal McCullough during Spokane’s bye last week.
“The Jack position is more of a shuttle run, guys who can go sideline to sideline fast,” Keefe said. “He’s been in all my defensive back drills rotating between me and (defensive coordinator Alex) Sirianni’s drills at Jack and he’s even learning a little offense. This guy ran a 4.3 40 and played safety with the (Indianapolis) Colts. And the whole point he’s here is in case of an emergency he can play another position (defensive back).”
Since signing with Spokane on May 19, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Marsh has taken a crash course on indoor football that will continue until kickoff Saturday.
“I’m ready,” Marsh said. “My last game was in 2006 in an all-star game in Las Vegas. I’m eager to get back out there. I’m just going to try to play my game. I learned a lot from Kevin when he was here.”
Marsh was a three-year starter at Pikeville (Ky.) College. He was with the Colts in training camp, but suffered a sprained MCL and slightly torn patella tendon that haunted him for the next two years. He was signed by the New York Giants but failed the physical. He had a short stint with the AFL Georgia Force in 2008 before he aggravated his knee injury and was released.
“I hurt it in college and I didn’t go through the proper rehab,” Marsh said.
Marsh’s speed, quickness and length have been on display in practice, Sirianni said.
“When you’re replacing a veteran that’s been effective you have to be very careful, but I think we saw in that Bossier-Shreveport game when a defensive back went down and at one point we had two receivers (playing DB) how scary it could be,” Sirianni said. “Making a change to, yeah, a guy that doesn’t have much experience is a scary thing, but we picked the right guy. We’ve prepared him well and he’s prepared himself.”
Back to work
Fullback Clay Harrell, on injured-reserve the last four weeks, practiced Tuesday and he’s expected to play Saturday.
DB Rod Mosley, OL Rob McMackin and WR Markee White remain on I-R. Mosley is “still working out the kinks,” Keefe said. McMackin is probably 2-3 weeks from being activated while White (shoulder) could be out another 4-6 weeks.
With CFL training camps underway, some quality players could become available when teams make cuts in the next month.
“Probably about Week 12 or 13, we’re going to have to assess, do we want to make changes or is this the team to go with? I don’t think it’ll be universal changes where we put nine new guys on the field, but there might be one or two guys if it’s necessary to do it,” Keefe said.
Spokane retains the rights to three players (Jeremy Unertl, Chris Pino and Aaron Fairooz) on CFL rosters.
The second half of the AFL season figures to be tougher than the first for the Shock. Spokane’s first eight opponents had a combined record of 30-39. The last eight are 40-29 with just two sub-.500 teams (Cleveland and Iowa). Five of Spokane’s last eight games are on the road. … After making 13 transactions last week, Oklahoma City was at it again Monday, signing one player, activating another from injured-reserve and releasing two others, including ex-Shock lineman Rico Ochoa.