The Spokane Shock shook up their roster Wednesday.
Change was coming to the secondary, regardless of the outcome last Friday against rival San Jose.
Middle defensive back Paul Stephens played in the last two Shock games with the understanding he would leave this week for training camp with the CFL’s B.C. Lions. Stephens was second in the Arena Football League with 20 pass break-ups.
“You can’t replace a guy like that,” coach Andy Olson said. “Somebody else has to step up, that’s just the game. This year is one of those years where we have a different roster every week and we have to adjust on the fly.
“It’s not easy, especially in the defensive backfield, but I expect us to be better Friday.”
Stephens intercepted 12 passes last season, including a single game-record five versus San Jose.
“Coach (Olson) did a good job of bringing in people that can help fill his shoes,” linebacker Terence Moore said. “I’m interested to see where this is going to go on the back end but I think we’re going to do a good job.”
Olson wasn’t happy with the secondary’s performance in a 52-34 loss to San Jose. Stephens, Terrance Sanders and Josh Pleasant started against the SaberCats. Olson opted to sit rookie Bryant Nnabuife.
“It was a wake-up call,” Olson said. “I didn’t think he played well at Arizona (the week before).”
Sanders has been a mainstay and Nnabuife figures to be back on the field against visiting Portland.
Spokane traded offensive lineman Duke Robinson to Philadelphia for Fred Shaw, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound defensive back. Shaw had 11 tackles in four games with the Soul.
“The best DBs in this league are the physical ones,” Olson said. “Covering is great and it’s nice to have guys that can cover but when you can disrupt a receiver at the line of scrimmage and you can make them uncomfortable from the first play to the last that’s really the key.
“We just have to be more consistent. That’s the biggest word we have with this team right now.”
The secondary isn’t the only position experiencing change this week. The offensive line will have at least two new starters with Robinson’s departure and Sam Tupua being placed on inactive reserve.
Wide receiver Brandon Thompkins, who dropped three passes in the first half Friday, was placed on recallable reassignment. Thompkins’ 54 catches lead the team and his 12 touchdowns are tied for second.
Spokane will probably lean on Mike Washington (50 catches, team-high 654 yards) and Rashaad Carter. Andrew Joseph was activated and the team signed 6-7, 240-pound receiver Nick Truesdell, who was recently in minicamp with Green Bay.
Loud and clear
When the team huddled at the end of practice, Olson delivered an emphatic reminder to the players about his expectations.
“It’s needed every once in a while,” Moore said, “especially when you’re going through a situation like ours.”
As Olson addressed the media, more loud speeches could be heard from the huddle 25 yards away.
“Today wasn’t our best practice,” quarterback Brian Zbydniewski said. “That’s what the emotional speeches were about, just making sure we’re ready because we have a huge game Friday night.”
The Spokane-Jacksonville game on June 7 will air on ESPNews instead of Philadelphia-Tampa Bay. … Sunday will mark four weeks since quarterback Erik Meyer’s collarbone injury. “The doctors gave him at least six weeks and after that he’ll get another X-ray,” Olson said. “His range of motion is good. We just have to wait for that bone to heal.”
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