William Mulder’s phone rang just before the start of Spokane Shock training camp. General manager Ryan Rigmaiden was on the line.
“I’m thinking, ‘He wants me to come play again,’ ” said Mulder, a Shock defensive back in 2010 who spent the last two seasons with the Utah Blaze. “I got kind of excited.”
Mulder stayed in shape and was hoping for another opportunity. The one offered by Rigmaiden would put Mulder back on the field, but with a whistle in his mouth and a coaching shirt on his back.
Mulder eventually accepted an offer to replace defensive backs coach Stanley Franks, who took a job at Idaho State University. For Mulder, who is married to a woman from Spokane and has lived in town the last two offseasons, the decision made sense on several levels.
“I talked it over with my wife and we both agreed this would be a good step,” Mulder said. “I always wanted to coach and this was a good start.”
Speaking of good starts, the Shock defense came up with several stops in a 67-41 season-opening win over Cleveland.
“They played really well, they communicated, they were physical and tackled well,” Mulder said of the secondary. “As far as making checks, all their checks were right.”
Mulder had 82 tackles, three interceptions and three fumble recoveries for the Shock’s AFL championship team in 2010. He played for Utah the next two seasons, tearing his ACL against Spokane in the fifth game of the 2011 season.
“I heard nothing but great things about him from (defensive coordinator Travis) Crusenberry and ‘Rigs,’ who had worked with him before,” coach Andy Olson said. “He was the smartest DB out there and did all the right things.”
Defensive back Terrance Sanders has played two seasons for Spokane. Patrick Stoudamire and Paul Stephens played for the Shock last season.
“They’re very talented, very smart,” Mulder said. “I want to put them in the right positions. I always tell them it starts with being in the right position and carries over to making the tackle or getting the interception or breaking up the pass.”
Passing first test
Quarterback Erik Meyer’s return to the field was a success, as he tossed eight touchdown passes and ran for another score against Cleveland. Meyer suffered a concussion in the 2012 opener and missed the remainder of the season.
“It was just fun getting out there,” Meyer said. “The mental part of getting hit, I didn’t worry about that. My main goal was to have fun and let it fly.”
Olson even called a naked bootleg that resulted in Meyer’s 3-yard touchdown run.
“I was hoping it was so wide open I could get in the end zone and do a little dance,” Meyer joked.
Olson said Meyer absorbed several hard hits and “he popped right back up and it didn’t faze him.”
On the road again
The toughest part of opening weekend might have been Spokane’s return trip from Cleveland. The first flight was delayed by mechanical problems. About half of the players returned to Spokane late Monday while the other half stayed the night in Denver.
“We lost a day and each day you can prepare for a team is important,” linebacker Terence Moore said. “With the group of guys we have, everybody took it upon themselves to watch (video) cut-ups on the other team.”
Spokane visits Chicago on Sunday. The Shock will remain in the Midwest to prepare for an April 5 contest at Iowa.