Derrick Summers’ job isn’t easy.
And we aren’t referring to the 40-50 head-on collisions between the Spokane Shock Mac linebacker and the opposing fullback in every game.
Summers has taken on the rather large task of replacing Beau Bell, who left the Shock after last season to sign with the first-year L.A. Kiss, which plays home games at the Honda Center in Anaheim, roughly 8 miles from Bell’s hometown of Tustin.
Summers and the Shock face Bell and the Kiss on Sunday in Anaheim, so let the comparisons begin. Comparisons in sports are inevitable, though often misguided, but Summers and Bell seem to have a lot in common.
Their numbers are similar. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Bell leads the Arena Football League in sacks with nine. The 6-1, 260-pound Summers, coming off a three-sack effort against Tampa Bay, is fifth with five. Bell is first in tackles-for-loss, Summers ranks third.
Their approaches are similar. Intensity, effort and preparation, put on display on the field.
“My teammates would say I’m quiet, I look angry all the time but that’s not it really,” said Summers, who was named AFL defensive player of the week. “I’m just focused and hard work usually pays off. Some people would say we’re similar because we’re always thinking football. If you ask my roommate (defensive back Sam Pope), if you come into our apartment I’m on the laptop looking at film.”
Jack linebacker Terence Moore was asked if Summers and Bell share similarities.
“You don’t hear much from (Summers) outside of football, but in the game they’re both vocal, communicate a lot and they both do that well,” Moore said. “I’m really learning how good Derrick is right now.”
Summers plays like he has something to prove but he already has a solid resumé. He was second-team All-AFL in 2011 for Jacksonville, which beat Arizona in the ArenaBowl. He’s had stints with Hamilton and Toronto in the CFL.
His highlight tape from Jacksonville shows him dragging down Spokane’s Adron Tennell for a loss on a sweep and sacking quarterback Erik Meyer.
Summers played linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle during his four seasons at Toledo. He was primarily a defensive end with Jacksonville.
“We weren’t certain if he would be the Mac, but we knew we wanted him to be a pass rusher,” head coach Andy Olson said. “He’s still learning the Mac and he’s only going to get better. It was the same with Beau a couple years ago. It took him a couple years for him to develop at that spot.”
Summers, James Ruffin (6.5 sacks) and Terrance Taylor (4.5) are part of a unit that leads the league in sacks (19). L.A. is second with 15.
“From watching them when I was with Jacksonville and hearing from others who played for Spokane, I couldn’t have found a better fit,” said Summers, who has a two-year contract.
With Spokane facing a road game Sunday and a home date with Pittsburgh five days later, Olson has adjusted practice this week to alleviate wear and tear on the players. The team had a pool workout Monday and Tuesday was designated for weight-lifting and conditioning drills.
Additionally, several players weren’t able to return from Tampa to Spokane until Monday night because of flight revisions.
“We’re just trying to monitor their bodies coming into two games with a short turnaround,” Olson said.
Spokane (4-2) moved up one spot to No. 3 in the latest coaches’ poll. Arizona (6-0) remains No. 1, followed by Cleveland (6-0). Those teams handed Spokane its only losses. … Taylor (groin) is expected to return after missing the Tampa Bay game. … Meyer needs four touchdown passes to move into first on the Shock career list. Kyle Rowley is No. 1 with 178. Meyer needs five rushing touchdowns to break the single-season mark he set last year with 15. … Spokane traded wide receiver Hank Edwards to Pittsburgh for future considerations. Edwards had eight catches for 62 yards in four games.