Spokane Shock coach Andy Olson turned up the heat on kicker Taylor Rowan at the end of Wednesday’s practice.
Rowan needed to make a certain number of PATs in a row or the entire team had to run. He connected on most of his kicks but a few misses meant grousing players ran some extra down-and-back sprints.
“It’s frustrating to me,” Rowan said, “but at the same time it’s one of those things you get in that mode where you’re working and doing this on the side and you have to snap into reality that this is a full-time job.
“As much as it upset me and as much as I hate hearing guys tell me, ‘C’mon,’ this is my job. It’s what I’m supposed to do. I need to be able to get my head 100 percent into what I need to be doing.”
Rowan, perhaps more than any other Shock player, can have a great day and/or a tough day at the offices. A few players hold part-time jobs. Rowan works full-time for Frencken America engineering in Liberty Lake as a project manager. It’s not an easy combination, but there are several reasons it works for Rowan.
He kicked for the Shock in 2010-11 prior to joining the Pittsburgh Power. However, the team owner fired his players hours before the 2012 season opener during the Arena Football League’s labor unrest.
Rowan had been dating Jamie, a Spokane resident, so he returned to the area. They eventually married, bought a house in Greenacres and Rowan was working for the engineering company owned by his father-in-law.
He puts in 40-hour weeks, but they became more complicated when the opportunity to kick for Spokane came up earlier this month. Road trips are a challenge. He has to adjust his schedule for Friday games. Saturday home games aren’t a problem.
The advantage of being a kicker is that “it’s a unique position,” Rowan explained. “If your confidence is up and you’re doing what you need to do, it’s an easy position to be able to (juggle both jobs). You come in and kick one or two days with the team and go from there. If you’re not doing well, you’re kind of mixing work and it gets a little bit tough.”
In two games, Rowan is 15 of 18 on PATs (83 percent) and made his only field-goal attempt. Kenny Spencer, who made PATs at a 94.5-percent clip in his record-setting 2012 season, was at 83 percent and 1 of 4 on FGs.
“We just haven’t been consistent in that area,” head coach Andy Olson said. “We were 11th out of 14 in PAT (percentage), we struggled in the first game hitting the net (on kickoffs) and we struggled in the third game missing four PATs. The last two games we lost you could easily say because of a PAT and a chip-shot field goal.”
Rowan’s two paychecks aren’t comparable (AFL veterans make $830 per game). For the most part, kickers, much like offensive linemen, long-snappers and officials, know they won’t receive much attention unless something goes wrong.
So why is Rowan tackling two sizable challenges?
“I’m still pursuing the dream of being able to make it back to the NFL,” said the 26-year-old, who worked out recently for a Philadelphia Eagles scout and was in minicamps with Atlanta last year. “It’s a great group of guys, you’re having fun with the team and I just love this game.”
Spokane (7-3) moved up one spot to No. 3 in the coaches’ poll. Arizona (9-1) remained No. 1 and San Jose (7-2), Spokane’s opponent Saturday night at the Arena, is No. 2. … The AFL made an in-season adjustment to the injured reserve rule. Teams are allowed to bring two players off IR instead of one. Spokane activated offensive lineman Chris Pino from IR a few weeks ago. … Defensive back Paul Stephens (hamstring) will likely miss his second straight game. Linebacker Terence Moore has returned from a one-game suspension.