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Shock still face uphill battle to playoffs

Spokane Shock. (Shock photo)
Spokane Shock. (Shock photo)

The Spokane Shock own wins over Philadelphia, which sports the best record in the Arena Football League, and division-leading San Antonio.

They’re clearly a team capable of making some noise in the postseason, if they can get there. That’s the hard part.

Spokane stayed in the playoff picture with a rout of division rival San Jose last week, but the Shock (8-6) still trail five National Conference teams – Arizona (11-3), San Antonio (11-3), Utah (10-5), Chicago (9-5) and San Jose (9-6) – in pursuit of four playoff spots. The two division winners, likely Arizona and San Antonio, will earn automatic berths.

“We feel like we can beat anybody in the league,” head coach Andy Olson said. “If we win Friday (over visiting Arizona) we will have proven that.”

Spokane is coming off its best performance of the season in San Jose, scoring a franchise-record 90 points. The defense forced seven turnovers and had nine stops.

“Our receivers are really starting to understand the game and it makes it so much easier for (quarterback) Kyle (Rowley) to read the field when the receivers are doing right thing,” Olson said.

The Shock’s next two games are against Arizona, ranked No. 1 last week, and at No. 2 Philadelphia.

“Everything is finally starting to click. We’re looking to make a strong push at the end,” offensive lineman Ryan Cave said. “We’re not afraid of anybody. We’re here to show everybody we’re a legitimate contender.”

Roster moves: Standout defensive lineman Jeremy Geathers is expected to rejoin the team for today’s practice. Geathers, who has a team-high 6.5 sacks despite playing in just seven games before leaving for the CFL, was recently released by the B.C. Lions. He had been on the refused to report list.

“He’s a fantastic player,” Olson said.

Spokane activated offensive lineman Palauni Ma Sun from injured reserve. Linebacker Beau Bell, released by B.C. nine days ago, suffered a strained abdominal muscle in his first game back with Shock. Bell and defensive lineman Jonathan Williams have been placed on IR.

Defensive back Terrance Sanders (wrist) is healing faster than anticipated and hopes to return in a couple of weeks. Rowley (illness) didn’t practice Tuesday.

New deal: AFL players are getting a healthy raise for the remainder of this season and the next five seasons.

Few details have been released on the five-year agreement reached by the AFL and the players union, mainly because the paperwork is still being finalized. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review obtained documents with the pertinent figures.

Players will earn $585 per game for the last four games this season, up from $400. Starting quarterbacks will continue making $1,675 per game this season, but their per-game bonus will drop from $1,090 for the remainder of this year to $250 per game next season and reach $350 by 2017.

Players will earn $830 per game in 2013 and eventually $925 in 2017. Beginning in 2013, teams will carry 20 active players (it’s currently 21) and four inactives (currently three).

Teams will also be able to offer multiyear contracts with roster bonuses of $750 per year for two years and $1,000 for three years.

“You’re able to have consistency,” Olson said.

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