TribLIVE

| Sports


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Power coach always finds 'next man'

Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review - The Pittsburgh Power's Andre Jones defends a pass in intended for the Cleveland Gladiators Thyron Lewis during the game at Consol Energy Center on Saturday May 31, 2014. Power LB Arvell Freeman would catch the deflection and return it for a touchdown. The Power won, 48-34.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sidney Davis  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pittsburgh Power's Andre Jones defends a pass in intended for the Cleveland Gladiators Thyron Lewis during the game at Consol Energy Center on Saturday May 31, 2014. Power LB Arvell Freeman would catch the deflection and return it for a touchdown. The Power won, 48-34.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh Power running back Tommy Taggert runs the ball during the game against the Cleveland Gladiators on Saturday May 31, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Sidney Davis  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pittsburgh Power running back Tommy Taggert runs the ball during the game against the Cleveland Gladiators on Saturday May 31, 2014.

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Friday, June 6, 2014, 7:03 p.m.
 

Coaches hate talking about injuries because the discussion sometimes can start sounding like a series of excuses.

Yet, it's sometimes unrealistic to stick out your chest, holler “next man up” and expect the same level of play from the next man.

It's even tougher in indoor football after the pool of sufficiently gifted players is thinned by the NFL and Canadian Football League, leaving Arena Football League coaches sifting through resumes and calling in favors from old friends.

There isn't an excessive number of good players, but somehow Power coach Ron James has been able to survive — thrive, actually — by finding replacements for some of the AFL's best.

“It's a function of being an old guy,” said James, 50. “I've been around this league for a while.”

That's one reason the Power will take a franchise-best five-game winning streak and an 8-3 record into their game Saturday against the New Orleans VooDoo (2-8) at Consol Energy Center.

Defensive back Virgil Gray, who was walking this week on crutches and with a boot on his high ankle sprain, will miss his third consecutive game. How did the Power respond to losing, arguably, the best defensive player in the league? They beat division leaders Orlando and Cleveland.

Defensive backs Andre Jones and Al Phillips, acquired by the Power after training camp, have filled the void left by Gray. Jones is returning kickoffs and helping in the secondary, and Phillips has three of the Power's league-leading 23 interceptions.

Phillips, who balked at being traded from Tampa Bay to Orlando, was sitting out the season until James called him soon after joining the Power in March.

“I was sitting out, waiting for the right opportunity,” said Phillips, who played for James and along side defensive backs coach Brandon Taylor in Utah.

At wide receiver, the Power acquired Hank Edwards in a trade with Spokane and picked up Rodney Wright after the start of the season. Edwards has 21 receptions (eight for touchdowns). Wright, 34, is averaging a touchdown approximately every five times he makes a catch. Overall, seven players have 19 or more catches and at least two touchdowns.

“It's a process and a process I enjoy, actually,” James said of acquiring players. “I know a lot of people.”

James, who has coached for 30 years (16 in the AFL), said he relies heavily on director of player personnel Brad Wittke.

“He does a great job being on the phone and being my second set of eyes,” James said.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Woman shot at Kennywood Park in ‘freak accident’
  2. McCutchen, Pirates hitters increasingly in crosshairs
  3. Police: Maine man shoots off firework from top of head, dies
  4. Pirates minor league report: Ramirez more mindful while at plate
  5. Starting 9: Pirates missing out on young bat
  6. Locke pitches 8 scoreless innings as Pirates edge Indians
  7. Allentown mayor says he’s cooperating with federal probe
  8. Biertempfel: Loss of All-Star paper ballots a blow to nostalgia
  9. Pittsburgh’s tech startup activity rates last of 40 metro areas in report
  10. Starkey: Bring back the Brawl!
  11. Grandmother of boy dropped at Uniontown Hospital says he’s in ICU