XFL NY/NJ Hitmen Press Release 10
Press Release 10
NY/NJ Hitmen mini-camp news and notes
December 17

The XFL promises to make fans a part of the action by showing an innovative, behind the scenes look at the game of professional football. As has become his custom during the New York/New Jersey HITMEN™ second mini-camp, HITMEN Vice President and General Manager Drew Pearson once again became personally involved in Saturday’s workout.

The three-time Pro Bowler donned HITMEN gear (complete with a white #88 jersey) and was an active participant in the individual wide receiver drills, running all the routes and giving pointers to the receiver corps, according to offensive coordinator Ron Calcagni.

Pearson instructed Zola Davis on the finer points of running inside routes. “You listen to him because he’s been there,” Davis said. “It also doesn’t hurt that he’s the boss.”

Unfortunately, team administrator Christian DiVernieri did not come away unscathed from his encounter with Pearson.

Guarding the General Manager in a Cover-2 technique during a release drill, DiVernieri became too friendly with Drew’s All-Pro form and took a finger in the eye. DiVernieri was later seen sporting the team’s colors - black and blue.

Quarterbacks Corte McGuffey and Kevin Mason provided kicking specialist Sean Liss with some much needed relief this weekend.

Liss, who handled all of the punting and kicking chores throughout mini-camp, was understandably sore from the extra work, and Mason and McGuffey were happy to demonstrate their punting proficiency.

The signal callers were more than capable replacements for Liss -- Mason boomed a 50-yard punt and McGuffey launched some kicks in the 45-yard plus range -- prompting the Florida State product to jump right back into drills.

Cornerback Donnie Caldwell was one of a dozen hopeful return specialists on the receiving end of the Mason and McGuffey rockets.

An accomplished punt returner who has several touchdown runs to his credit during his collegiate career at Western Illinois, Caldwell surprised his teammates and special teams coach Paul Butcher when he dropped a punt during drills.

Drawing calls of “stone hands” and “the sun was in my eyes” from other return candidates, Caldwell blamed the wind for his miscue.

Butcher saw it differently.

“I scared him,” the coach said, describing how he simulated a would-be tackler in a no-fair-catch situation. “He heard footsteps. I told him to go back to his defensive back drills.”

Equipment manager Tommy McVean discovered a bit of chicanery on the part of the HITMEN quarterbacks.

It seems that the QBs pulled “the oldest trick in the book,” according to McVean, deflating the footballs in order to get a better grip during the cold weather.

The veteran McVean noted that complaints had been lodged about the firmness of the footballs, and a routine check uncovered the pigskin problem.

Center Dustin Owen and Linebacker Ron Merkerson locked horns during 11-on-11 drills and needed to be separated by teammates.

When asked what the fisticuffs were about, Merkerson said he could not remember, but defensive end Antonio Anderson offered his take on the one-round bout.

“The offensive line has been holding all camp,” Anderson said. “Merk probably got tired of it.”

For once in his life, Owen had no comment.

Marlon Chambers was a standout tight end and power forward at Louisiana Tech, and played some defensive end with the Chicago Bears.

A mountain of a man, Marlon was asked by HITMEN offensive line coach Edwin Bailey to make the switch to offensive tackle.

How did the athletic Chambers react when informed of his new position? With characteristic enthusiasm, of course.

“I’ll do anything the coaches ask me to do,” Chambers said of his transition from pass catcher to pass blocker. “I’m putting my maximum effort into it.”

According to Bailey, the Chambers experiment is “interesting” thus far.

Impressed with the team’s work ethic and practice habits during mini-camp, HITMEN head coach Rusty Tillman cancelled team meetings Saturday, giving his squad a rare night off.

Instead of venturing out to explore nearby New York City, most of the players traveled no farther than the restaurant of the team hotel, enjoying a quiet dinner before retreating to their rooms to watch television or study their playbooks.

When asked why he did not take advantage of this newfound freedom, a player, offensive guard Derrick Turner said. “We had 11 p.m. bed check and 7 a.m. practice on Sunday. Where were we going to go?”

Notes from - [Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5]


Part of the

Network, Dedicated To All Fans of the XFL