What We Learned From the AAF Inaugural Games

Wanda Wiedman,
NFL Reporter

By Wanda Wiedman / @WandaW63

A dream that has been floating around for many years and has finally found a voice through the Alliance of American Football.

The league came about as a way to appeal to the undrafted college players, the tossed aside unsigned NFL players and former coaches. It is an opportunity for a chance at redemption and to be a part of a league that gives players a stage to prove they have what it takes to play in the NFL. Below are a few things we learned from the inaugural kickoff:

Old and untapped running backs and wide receivers show their skills.

Former first-rounder for the Cleveland Browns, Trent Richardson bounced around the NFL but proved he still had game with 2 rushing touchdowns, 23 carries, 58 rushing yards, and a fumble for the Birmingham Iron.

Keep an eye out for RB Jhurell Pressley of the Salt Lake Stallions. He went undrafted in 2016, bounced around five different NFL teams but was impressive in the opener with 18 touches for 84 yds, 2-2pt conversions, and a receiving TD.

Another notable was RB Akeem Hunt for the Orlando Apollos. He went for 10 carries and 73 yards. He may not have had a TD, but it will happen.

Wide receiver Rashad Ross of the Arizona Hotshots went undrafted in 2013. He was picked up by seven NFL teams but had his best season in 2015 with the Washington Redskins, but was released the following year. In the Hotshots opener, Ross was targeted seven times for 103 yards and two TDs, his longest was a 41-yard one-handed grab.

Quinton Patton of the Birmingham Iron was a 2013 fourth-round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers. Release after 4 years and a very small stint with the New York Jets that put him on the PUP list and released. He hauled in a 107 receiving yards, targeted nine times but no TDs.

There is no crying in football.

The AAF is allowing players to play hard-hitting football and that includes hitting the quarterback without a bazillion dollar fine. Linebacker Shaan Washington of the San Antonio Commanders laid in a brutal hit heard around the stadium against the San Diego Fleet quarterback Mike Bercovicci. If you recall Bercovicci was one of the undrafted players featured in the 2016 NFL Network mini-series UNDRAFTED. He was picked up later by the LA Chargers but released after a poor performance in the preseason.

Gritty. But it begs the question on what is the limit on player safety?

There are some seriously good quarterbacks in this league.

Three QBs stood out this weekend, John Wolford, Garrett Gilbert, and Luis Perez. Wolford was drafted by the Hotshots last November. In his first start, he stood solid in the pocket, had great pocket awareness with 18/29 completions, 275 yards, four TDs, 23 rushing yards, and zero interceptions.

Gilbert was a 2014 6th round draft pick for the St. Louis Rams. He also bounced around on several teams but gave a great performance for the Apollos. He completed 15/25 of his passes, threw for 227 yards for two TDs, and rushed for 10-yds for a 2 point conversion.

Perez passed for 252 yards for the Irons, with 19/33 completions, but zero TDs or interceptions. His longest throw was for 42 yards.

Now that the teams have a feel of what to expect from each other, there will definitely be some exciting games in the next coming weeks. New rules, sky judge and fewer penalties make it a fun league to watch.

Talk football with Wanda on Twitter @WandaW63

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