UFL's Omaha Nighthawks Kick Off Training Camp
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Box Score News


Omaha Nighthawks
United Football League
August 18, 2010

The Nighthawks will open all practices to media and fans at the Kroc Center

OMAHA, NE – The Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League open up training camp on Friday, August 20. They will begin with the basics, physicals and paperwork in the morning, but it’s all about football thereafter.

All training camp practices will be held at the Kroc Center (2825 Y Street, Omaha, NE) and will be open to the media and fans. The Nighthawks will alternate one-a-day and two-a-day practices for the duration of camp. The practice schedule for the first week is as follows:

August 21: 8:45am-11:15am, 6:15pm-8:45pm
August 22: 2:30pm-5:15pm
August 23: 8:45am-11:15am, 6:15pm-8:45pm
August 24: 2:30pm-5:15pm
August 25: 8:45am-11:15am, 6:15pm-8:45pm
August 26: 2:30pm-5:15pm
August 27: 8:45am-11:15am, 6:15pm-8:45pm

The practice schedule is subject to change. In which case, media will receive an alert with the amended schedule.

The Nighthawks season will kick into gear with the start of camp and players vying for starting spots on the 52-man roster.

“We’re excited about getting this thing kicked off,” Head Coach Jeff Jagodzinski said. “The first thing we need to do is get together. For our players to be situationally smart, I think that’s where they have to be to be a good team - don’t beat yourselves.”

Breaking down the Nighthawks:

Offense

Coach Jagodzinski is poised to add a quarterback who can lead, inspires his teammates, makes good decisions and manages the game. He also values accuracy over arm strength.

The running game will feature longtime NFL standout Ahman Green, a former Nebraska Cornhusker who ran for 9,205 yards and 60 touchdowns in 12 seasons.

“He looks like he has plenty of juice left,” said Jagodzinski. “I’ve known Ahman for a long time, and he’s excited to be back in Omaha, and he’s going to play as hard as he can.”

At wide receiver, Omaha boasts the 2009 UFL receptions leader in ex-New York Sentinel Craphonso Thorpe. Thorpe grabbed 27 passes for 295 yards and a touchdown a season ago, and Jagodzinski called him a hard worker. Also in the mix is ex-Green Bay Packer Robert Ferguson, a veteran who knows the system and who caught 151 passes in eight NFL seasons.

The offensive line is helped by a pair of ex-Tuskers - center P.J. Alexander, a leader on and off the field who started at right guard for Florida last fall, and guard Fred Matua, the Tuskers’ top reserve guard in 2009.

“A guy might fit for you where he might not fit anywhere else,” said Jagodzinski. “We’re picking players that fit our scheme and how we look at things.”

Defense

Defensive coordinator Rick Lantz is not sure who he will be working with in total on the defensive side of the ball, but he said whomever it is, the defense will look a lot like his units during his NFL Europe days with the Berlin Thunder.

“If they watch our tapes from the Berlin Thunder, they’ll get a preview of what we’ll be in, at least in the beginning of the season,” Lantz said. “We’ll do some other things with pressure, but it will be very, very similar. I think we should be able to be aggressive on defense.”

One of the veterans Omaha will lean on defensively is Gary Stills, Las Vegas’ starter at left outside linebacker in 2009. During the regular season, Stills had 16.5 tackles. Expect Stills to be a defensive leader, since Lantz said one of the reasons Stills continues to play is his desire to one day become a coach.

“He has great leadership ability,” Lantz said. “He’s enthusiastic and has an understanding of the game.”

Another linebacker who caught Lantz’s eye during mini-camp was Alex Lewis, a five-season performer for the Detroit Lions.

Up front, Lantz had praise for former Locomotive Wendell Bryant (nine tackles, one sack as starting right defensive tackle), and Hollis Thomas, a 14-year veteran, also could help anchor the middle.

In the secondary, Lantz likes safeties Anthony Dorsett, who played eight NFL seasons, and “enthusiastic” Stuart Schweigert, a five-year NFL veteran. Lantz said he is looking for leadership and safeties who can make adjustments.

At cornerback, Lantz mentioned Eric Green, who spent four years with the Arizona Cardinals, and Terell Maze, who had an interception and 13.5 tackles as the starting right cornerback for the New York Sentinels last fall.

Lantz likes the potential of having so many veteran players on defense. “You don’t have to tell them to take notes and write things down,” he said.

Special teams

Special teams coach Kirk Doll is making sure his third of the game is ready for whomever is in pads when camp begins.

“What I’m doing is getting everything ready for whoever shows up,” he said. “They (the coaches) put a lot of emphasis on that in mini-camp.”

Doll said with an abbreviated regular season, starters will be used on special teams.

“With an 8-game season, we’re going to use different people, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a starter,” he said. “We’re going to use the best people.

“The guys that I had to work with in mini-camp, I was excited about. They understand the importance of it. It’s going to help add to their resume to move forward.”

One of the players who could play a key role on special teams for Omaha is ex-Florida Tuskers safety/return man Willie Andrews, who led the UFL in both punt return average (12.6) and kickoff return average (22.1) in 2009.
For ticket information and team news, go to www.OmahaNighthawks.com .

About The United Football League: The UFL provides high-quality professional football during a traditional fall season while embracing innovation and fan interaction. The UFL serves its local communities with pride and dedication, and aims to provide every fan with an exciting and memorable game experience. The inaugural 2009 champion Las Vegas Locos will battle the Florida Tuskers, Hartford Colonials, Omaha Nighthawks and Sacramento Mountain Lions for the William Hambrecht Trophy in 2010. The UFL is led by Commissioner Michael Huyghue and is funded by a consortium of private investors. For season tickets, more information and to interact with passionate football fans, please visit www.UFL-Football.com.

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