It’s that point of the season.
Spokane has played 11 straight weeks and doesn’t have a bye week until later this month. The season-long aches and strains are adding up, which calls for flexible practice schedules.
Spokane (8-3) went through 90 minutes of conditioning Tuesday instead of putting on helmets and shoulder pads. Numerous players then lifted weights at the team’s practice facility.
“It’s exactly what we did last Tuesday, we’re kind of sticking to the schedule,” head coach Andy Olson said. “Just getting everybody loose, getting them sweating. We’re at that point of the season where the ground and pound doesn’t do us much good anymore. We’ll get after it tomorrow.”
Several players, including Mac linebacker Beau Bell and receiver Adron Tennell, have limited participation during the week so they’re able to perform on game day. Bell has played with a high ankle sprain, in part because of limited practice reps during the week.
“I’ve been banged up for a while,” said Bell, who has 41 tackles, six sacks and five quarterback hurries. “The coaches are helping me out a lot. They trust that with them giving me a couple plays here or there or taking a day off in practice that I’ll go out Friday or Saturday night and do my job.”
Asked the last day he felt 100 percent healthy, Bell smiled and said, “When was the first day of training camp?” Bell added that playing on artificial turf at the practice facility and at the Arena can be tough on players’ bodies.
“Once the game starts going, my adrenaline starts kicking up and I don’t feel it (ankle) until after the game,” Bell said. “Adrenaline is really the pain-killer for me.”
Tennell, who leads the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns, rode a stationary bike near the end of practice.
“It doesn’t make any sense to try to push through in practice and hurt themselves,” Olson said. “They do work out and stay in shape as much as possible without hitting.”
Spokane is in the toughest portion of its schedule. The next five games are against teams with a combined 37-17 record, and that includes division rival Utah (4-6). It begins with Saturday’s home game against Jacksonville (8-3), followed by Arizona (10-1), Utah, Tampa Bay (7-4) and a trip to Jacksonville.
“I prefer to play the good teams,” Olson said. “I hate playing down to our competition. It seems like the guys are more focused when we play the really good teams.”
Spokane’s losses are to Tampa Bay, Utah and Orlando (2-8).
“The only breather we get is our bye week,” Bell said. “When you lose sight of what’s in front of you, that’s when you get punched in the mouth.”
Spokane was planning on retiring Raul Vijil’s No. 15 jersey on Saturday but he told team officials he wasn’t quite ready to file retirement papers with the AFL. Vijil didn’t return a phone message. … Receiver Kamar Jorden missed practice to attend a tryout with the Minnesota Vikings. He’s expected to return to Shock practice as early as today. Jorden, who has 60 catches for 716 yards, was in Vikings’ training camp in 2012 and attended the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie minicamp last month.
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