With the loss of a key defensive standout from last year’s 2017, the Columbus Lions will be looking to new players to lead them into a trip to the playoffs and hopefully another shot at the 2018 NAL championship.
Columbus veteran Kendrick Washington tore his Achilles tendon nine days before the opener and is lost for the season. Last year Washington had six tackles and eight assists to add to 4.5 sacks, the second best total on the team.
Washington also forced three fumbles and recovered three fumbles and he topped the Lion defense in both of those categories.
“We will just have to step up,” admitted Lion Coach Jason Gibson after the loss of his veteran player.
One rookie who has made an impression in camp is defensive end Darius Rosser who came from Arkansas State. Rosser is vocal and urges his teammates throughout practice and is first to give his defensive players feedback.
“I am grateful to be here,” said Rosser after practice on Thursday at Garrett Harrison Stadium. “I need to bring my best game and I want to be the best teammate I can be so that either myself or my team can dominate.”
Rosser is new to arena football but has jumped in with both feet and is expected to make the cut.
“It is different. You have to have your head on a swivel because it is tighter spacing and things happen quickly. You have to react and be ready every play,” Rosser pointed out.”At defensive end, you have to be an enforcer.”
On Friday at midnight, the Lions will have to cut down from the current 30 roster players to 24. Coach Gibson will have to give six players their walking papers as the season is a week away.
One rookie on offense has impressed enough that the No. 4 receiver from last year is already been cut.
That rookie is 6-7 Scott Shewmon from Wisconsin-Lacrosse. Shewmon was injured early but has returned to the lineup.
“I hurt my hamstring the first day of practice and it isn’t 100 percent but it is good enough to be back on the field,” said Shewmon.”This is a first class operation and I am excited to be a part of it.”
“I have not played arena football but I was a tight end in college and I feel my blocking will also help the team when needed,” Shewmon added.
One thing Shewmon was glad of and that is playing football in the South.
“I will need to get my air conditioning in my car fixed as I hear the summers are really hot. Right now it is about 20 degrees in Wisconsin and here we are outside in great weather,” Shewmonpointed out.
Following the roster cut to 24 on Friday, the team will go on April 7th to the Launch Trampoline Park for “Launch with the Lions’. Every child who visits the Park that day will get a ticket to the Lions home opener April 13th against Lehigh Valley.
Lion players will be there from 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.