After taking the first week of the break off to heal up, the Lions have returned to the Civic Center this week as preparation for their matchup with the Sharks begins. The focus for Thursday’s practice was the red zone and every play the offense ran against the defense came from inside the 20. The Lions have been one of the top red zone teams in the NAL this year and this was on full display during practice. 

The Lions continued to utilize the running game in unique ways with Corey Crawford once again taking a number of handoffs up the middle and Desmond Reece often motioning and getting pitched the ball in a sort of hybrid running back role. The Lions have used Reece in that type of role in previous games and they could look to him again when the Lions face the Sharks. 

Thursday’s practice also saw both the offense and the defense at their best with both units making spectacular plays throughout the drills. Mason Espinosa had some brilliant throws, including one to Romond Deloatch that was just out of the defender’s reach and Lonnie Outlaw made some excellent catches on 50-50 balls, something the 6’7” wide receiver has been known for all season. Kewan Alfred made one of the best plays of the night with a leaping interception and the defense had a number of great pass breakups throughout practice.

“I think iron sharpens iron,” said coach Gibson when asked about the talent of the offense and the defense. “When you practice against the best defense in the league every night you have no choice but to get good.”

Coach Gibson also provided a few injury updates after practice. According to coach Gibson kicker Ryan Gates says he is healthy and plans to return against Jacksonville but coach Gibson is still being cautious in case the kicker has a setback. The Lions have been using other players like Felipe Castillo on kickoffs and attempting two-point conversions since Gates went down. 

Dion Small was back on the field after missing the game against the Cobras and he was often swapping with Quentin Hall on the offensive line with Dustin Burns handling the center position. Coach Gibson said that the plan going forward is just see who is healthy on the offensive line before making any decisions regarding the lineup.

Maurice Leggett went down with a scary injury in the home game against the Sharks and while he was not on the practice field on Thursday coach Gibson revealed that Leggett has been rehabbing since the injury and should be back on July 17th. 

The Lions will return on July 17 when they travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. EST. The game can be watched live with CTV Beam, at or on the NAL’s official Youtube channel


The Columbus Lions are members of the National Arena League (NAL). Founded in 2007, the Columbus Lions are starting their 15th season in 2021. The Lions are a 3x league champion and 13 playoff appearances in their rich history. The Lions play their home games at Hughston Field in the Columbus Civic Center. Lions Season Ticket Memberships are on sale now call (706) 322-3336 or visit Follow the Lions on Facebook at, twitter @columbuslions and


The National Arena League was founded in 2016 and hosted its inaugural season in 2017 as the premier league in arena football. The National Arena League will kick off its fifth season in 2021. For more information regarding expansion opportunities or partnerships, contact Commissioner Chris Siegfried at For more information about the NAL visit,,,