Fever defense ready to roll

February 10, 2014 

tri-cities fever football arena

Andrew Faaumu snaps the ball to Dante Warren on Monday during the Tri-Cities Fever's morning practice at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

After bursting onto the scene halfway through the 2013 Indoor Football League, Tri-Cities Fever quarterback Dante Warren expects to get even better this year.

How could he not, going up every day against the defense Fever coach Adam Shackleford has assembled for training camp?

“All of the defensive backs who have come back,” said Warren. “Guys like Rudell Crim and Lionell Singleton, they keep coming back. I don’t know how they do it.”

Shackleford has been impressed since camp opened Sunday morning.

“You can definitely tell a lot of guys are back on defense,” said Shackleford. “By bringing fewer numbers into camp, we’re hoping to give a lot of guys more repetitions.”

Still, it’s going to be tough when Shackleford has to make final cuts for the season opener, set for Feb. 28 against the Wyoming Cavalry at the Toyota Center.

Besides Crim and Singleton, Donyae Coleman and Dennis Rogan also return. And the newcomers have shown Shackleford a lot too.

“Mo Lee could be special,” he said. “And Quinton Richardson has been playing well too. Our secondary is going to have a battle for reps.”

That’s not even mentioning veteran Dustin Bell, who played three seasons ago for the Fever and was in the Arena Football League last season. He is set to arrive next week for the team.

That’s great for Warren, as he gets to go up against a talented secondary each day in practice. It’s been a big change for the second-year player, who started the 2013 season on the bench.

“Last year I was nervous and didn’t want to make any mistakes in camp,” said Warren, who spent the offseason back home in Chicago coaching high school football and training. “Now? The game has slowed down for me. I’ve definitely started making more reads.”

Now he’s not worried about the small things, like handling the football and making the correct cadence. And it’s just not him, as a veteran receiving corps is back.

“We’ve definitely jumped ahead in the playbook compared to last year at this time,” said Warren. “And we’ve spent the last few days catching up the new guys.”

Shackleford said that’s been the way for both sides of the ball.

“The defense has picked up right where it left off last season, when it was playing well,” he said. “We’ve put in a lot of plays in the last two days. We’ve got in the last two the same amount of stuff we had up to the season opener last season.”

Notes: Only 21 players were on the field for Monday’s second practice. Singleton and Brandon Wilson were working at their after-school program, and three players were busy getting their physicals. Shackleford was heading to the Spokane airport to pick up two more players Monday night. ... Linebacker Boris Lee had a pick-6 during Monday afternoon’s practice. ... The team will practice two times today in the Toyota Center — once at 9:30 a.m., and the other at 2:30 p.m. The public is invited to watch for free. ... The Cedar Rapids Titans beat the Bemidji Axemen 42-30 in an exhibition game last Friday. ... Last year’s IFL MVP, quarterback Jameel Sewell, will return for the Nebraska Danger. ... The Texas Revolution made two deals last week, picking up wide receiver Clinton Solomon from the Sioux Falls Storm as well as quarterback Jeremy Sanders. In return, the Revs sent the rights to offensive lineman Tray Allen to the Nebraska Danger, and the Danger forwarded the rights to wide receiver Corey Surrency to the Storm. ... Where are they now department: Former Fever quarterback Kasey Peters, who started last season for Tri-Cities before being released in mid-season in favor of Warren, finished 2013 with the New Mexico Stars of the Lone Star Football League. Peters ended up being named league co-MVP for the Stars. In the offseason, he left New Mexico for another LSFL team, the West Texas Wildcatters.

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