Spokane Shock coach Andy Olson has every intention of playing his best lineup and winning a game that doesn’t mean diddly in the Arena Football League standings or playoffs.
The Shock (10-7) visit Portland (5-12) on Saturday to close the regular season. They’ve won four straight. They’re playing their best football of the season. They don’t want to interrupt their momentum, but they also want all hands on deck the following week for the playoff opener against San Jose.
“We’re in a good position right now. We have all the right pieces getting healthy,” Olson said. “I want us to play consistent football, I want to be aggressive and I want us to win the game.
“But we have a couple guys a little banged up so we need to be smart.”
Among the banged up are quarterback Erik Meyer, who was limping during a second-half series in Monday’s win; receiver Adron Tennell, who is working his way back from a foot injury; receiver Nichiren Flowers; and defensive back Paul Stephens.
Olson said he’ll see how practice goes the next few days before determining Meyer’s status for Portland. The coach added that he’s not sure if Portland will rest key players or go with its normal lineup.
“It’s a tough spot, but it’s a good spot knowing we’re in the playoffs,” Meyer said. “Even though this game doesn’t really mean anything on paper it does to us. We want to keep the train rolling and we want to compete and win this game.”
Linebacker Derrick Summers, who joins linebacker Terence Moore and defensive back Terrance Sanders as players who have started all 17 games, plans on making it 18 Saturday.
“Sometimes when you rest it can throw you off for the next game,” Summers said. “Keep doing what we’re doing. Keeping the momentum going into the playoffs is very important.”
Tennell saw extended time in Monday’s win over Tampa Bay, his first game action since May 9. He was sore Tuesday, but that was to be expected. Tennell took it easy at Wednesday’s practice.
A couple of weeks ago, Tennell was thinking his next game action might come in 2015.
“Just being in the training room every day twice a day, getting (physical therapy),” Tennell said. “We’ve got one of the best trainers in the world with Julie (Woolf). She’s getting me and the rest of guys back for this playoff run.”
Tennell expects to be on the field against the Thunder.
“No, no, I’m playing,” Tennell said when asked if he needs rest more than reps. “From the start of the game to the end of the game. This is building my confidence with my leg.”
Taylor Rowan has been on a roll of late with bar-ball kickoffs. He had five bar balls against San Antonio, which was stuck with lousy field position most of the game. The Shock recovered a bar-ball kick during its comeback victory against Arizona.
“I want him to aim down the middle at the slack net so if he misses left or right he’s hitting the bar,” Olson said. “It’s a huge game-changer when he’s able to do that.”
Spokane leads the league in kickoff coverage. Rowan has 43 touchbacks, tops in the league. He’s third in scoring with 124 points and seventh in PAT percentage (88.9).
Center Ryan Cave, who is back with the Shock after two stints in the CFL, didn’t play against Tampa Bay. Olson said Cave will definitely be in the mix against Portland. … Arizona’s run of 30 straight weeks at No. 1 is over. The Rattlers dropped to No. 2 behind Cleveland in the coaches’ poll. Spokane climbed from fifth to third. … James Ruffin’s sack total has been adjusted. He now has 14 sacks, two from equaling the AFL single-season record.