Entering his 12th season, Coach Jason Gibson was happy for one thing as the Columbus Lions opened their first day of practice with quarterbacks receivers and defensive backs on March 24th.
“This is the first time we were able to open practice on the actual field that we will play are games on. It was great,” said Gibson after his second practice session of the day concluded.
“We had low numbers but that was the way I like it. That allows extra work with players about routes and how to defend those routes. Honestly, it feels like we are in week three for the time we spent in meetings and looking at film,” Gibson pointed out.
True to his word, the 24th practice was being filmed by Lion staff and Gibson continually checked to be sure everything was filmed.
The Lions are getting ready for their April 13th home opener and that includes opening up for the fans. On Monday, March 26th , the Civic Center will be free and open to the public at 6:00 p.m. The annual Lion Fan Fest will include an inflatable obstacle course, games and races for the kids along with Lions players interacting with all participants and vendor tables as well.
On Saturday veterans and rookies worked together running and defending routes and three-year player Kyle Griswold was excited about making an interception on one long pass.
“I hope for that to be one of many,” said Griswold after the first day. “Everybody was a little anxious today but it felt great to be on the field.”
“I played offense my first year and switched to defense last year. This has been a great experience for me and I can’t wait for the season to start,” Griswold added.
Newcomer Robert Sands was also present. Sands, who was also at the Lions ‘Media Day” was happy about being on the field as well.
“It does feel good to be back on the football field. Things happen very quickly in Arena football. You have to move your feet and anticipate, know your assignment and make your reads.
“You have to trust your eyes and your instincts,” he said.
In addition, Sands, at 6-5 has the length to play with the tall receivers that play in the arena league. “I want that to be a plus,” Sands said.
Mason Espinosa had no qualms about the fact he was thrilled to start practicing again.
“Today was fun. You got to love it because you spend so much time with your teammates. It was great to run around with my teammates and being with the guys again,” Espinosa said.
“I am starting my fourth year in this league and this is my third organization so I feel very comfortable getting ready,” he added.
Working with Espinosa is Lion newcomer Kyle Cool. Cool played last year with the winless Corpus Christi Rage and has nothing but positives to say about Columbus.
“(Columbus is) a first class organization from taking care of essentials like equipment and housing, food, etc. That makes for a lot less stress on the players. You worry about playing and not those things that take away from your preparation,” Cool said.
“I was throwing to get ready right up to report day because I wanted to be prepared,” he added.
The Lions also had two new players in camp including 6-7 quarterback Matt Foltz from Stone Hill College and kicker Derick Vasha, who will battle incumbent Lindsey Wolfe for place kicking duties.
That makes four quarterbacks in camp with the inclusion of Auburn grad Jeremy Johnson and Gibson likes what he sees from all so far.
The Lions offense is focused on the quarterback making quick decisions and getting the ball out of his hands with the throw.
“We want play makers to make plays and it also keep sour quarterbacks from getting banged up,” Gibson added.
On the 29th, offensive and defensive lineman will be reports for their first practice and Gibson will be looking at where he stands with his skill players.
“We have some really good guys in camp this year I am excited about 2018,” Gibson reported