With the opening of the 2014 Legends Football League USA season upon us; Jodie Nettles of the Atlanta Steam took some time to talk about the team's upcoming season as Atlanta prepares to defend the LFL Southern Division championship they won in the inaugural season. Jodie is a returning veteran and has a tremendous amount of insight to share concerning how this edition of the Steam compares with last year's, as well as how the rookies are shaping up.
Atlanta underwent a number of off-season changes that included a head coaching change, changes in the position coaches, the loss of last season's starting quarterback Brittany Morgan, and the addition of a number of new players that have never played tackle football. There are also some returning players that are working to bounce back from injuries last season-most notable among them is running back Nasira Johnson.
Jodie feels the Steam are ahead of where they were at this stage last year because the offensive line, linebacker and safety positions are being filled by returning players that now have a year of tackle experience under their belt, as well as “Very talented rookie additions at running back, defensive back, and defensive end that will only increase our level of play.”
Nettles, a starting receiver and the No. 2 QB last season, has worked with new starting field general Dakota Hughes and believes that the additional film sessions first-year new head coach Dane Robinson has implemented will help remove “any doubt in Dakota’s mind about alignment, assignment, and execution.” She went on to say that “all of us are held accountable for every mistake, so we can better eliminate them.”
While many questions are yet to be answered about Dakota, Jodie has been impressed with the 18-year olds “level of humility, maturity, and skill she (Dakota) has displayed on and off the field. She has been challenged with learning the offense, reading defenses, making adjustments, and in the end making plays. I cannot wait to see her show the LFL and its fans what she's capable of.”
While Atlanta has had a good camp, it has not been free of setbacks.
Nas was a key component in last season’s option style attack and is working to come back from last year's season-ending injury that resulted in surgery and. Sweetness Jones, the back that got the most touches, is no longer with the team . Dee Salter, the rookie RB Jodie spoke of, will see a lot of playing time and will be counted on to provide a breakaway threat out of the backfield for the Steam .
Add to that a lack of depth in the receiving corps that was made worse when Jodie, considered the Steam’s top possession receiver, was involved in a motorcycle accident that has resulted in lost on-field practice time, and there are clearly areas of concern
When discussing her own injury, Jodie said her recovery is on schedule and that she hopes to be ready for the May 7th opener in Toledo. “I'm counting my blessings that no ligaments, tendons, muscles, or bones were affected during the accident. I'm also lucky that the laceration was the extent of my injuries.”
While Jodie’s goal is to be ready for the Crush game, if coaches determine that she is not able to contribute to the team on the field, she plans to be with the team to help Hughes from the sideline as the Steam look to emerges victorious in their season opener.
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