03/07/2014 5:23 PM
ST. JOHNS, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sharks continued the team’s 2014 training camp on Friday morning, practicing at Plantation Park in St. Johns. After three consecutive days of full-contact workouts, Friday’s practice was helmets-only in order to help manage the physical toll of training camp.
Despite the lack of contact, Friday’s workout served as a good opportunity for players throughout the roster to gain valuable reps. With the season opener just over a week away, the focus of the coaching staff has begun to shift from player evaluation to the implementation of strategy for the early part of the season.
One advantage to practicing outside is that it lessens the wear and tear on the players’ bodies, specifically when it comes to the wide receivers and defensive backs. At the same time, working outdoors cannot accurately simulate the conditions of the in-arena environment.
On one particular play on Friday, Jeron Harvey pulled down a reception in the end zone while running full speed near the edge of the field. While he simply coasted out of bounds during the drill, in a game situation such a play would have resulted in a high-speed collision with the wall. As a fifth-year veteran, Harvey is used to the difference, but managing the transition from outside to inside is something that the team’s younger players will need to quickly master.
The Sharks will hit the field again on Saturday morning to wrap up training camp with one more full-contact practice. This will serve as the last opportunity for players to make an impression before the team’s coaching staff must turn in a 24-man roster.
Defensive back Tracy Belton heads into his fifth overall season in the Arena Football League, and second as a member of the Jacksonville secondary. In 2013, Belton joined defensive lineman Jerry Turner as the only two Sharks to start each of the team’s 18 regular season games as well as both playoff contests.
That consistency in the lineup helped Belton put together a productive season, as he led the Sharks in tackles (94.5), ranked second on the team in pass breakups (20), and added four forced fumbles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. For his career, the 29-year-old Belton has tacked up 30 interceptions, including 11 in the 2012, a season in which he was tabbed as a Second Team All-Arena selection.
Belton’s production surged at the end of 2013, as he grabbed two of his three interceptions in the Sharks’ final four regular-season games, adding another pick in the playoffs. Belton acknowledged the challenge of transitioning to a new system at the start of last season, saying on Friday that he feels markedly more comfortable heading into this year.
“Coming in last year, I had to get used to different schemes and stuff,” Belton said. “But now coming in [to camp] as a veteran on this team, I’m picking it up real good, picking up the pace of everything and knowing what to expect.”
The Sharks announced several transactions on Friday, as Mac linebacker Aaron Robbins has been activated from refused to report. An all-arena selection in both 2012 (First Team) and 2013 (Second Team), Robbins is set to begin his fourth season in Jacksonville and fifth overall campaign in the Arena Football League. For his career, Robbins has racked up 23 sacks, 17.5 of which have come in the last two seasons combined.
The Sharks also announced Friday that wide receiver Willie Carter and wide receiver Andrew Bodenheimer have been placed on reassignment.
The Sharks will return to the practice field on Saturday morning. Saturday’s practice will be held at the Orange Park Athletic Association Field and is set to start at 8:30 a.m.
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and four-time South Division Champions are presented by Sea Best Seafood and play all home games on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Season Tickets for the 2014 season are now available, two tickets for as low as $185. To purchase your season tickets or for more information, please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.
About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. The ESPN family of networks and CBS Sports Network will nationally broadcast AFL games each week for the entire season. The AFL schedule then culminates with the ArenaBowl Championship game live on ESPN.