Shock practice wrapped up a little before noon today and we had the chance to watch a bit. There was a very light mood and plenty of laughter.
At the end of practice, defensive coordinator Travis Crusenberry went head-to-head with a defensive lineman, best two-out-of-three. Crusenberry, playing the role of offensive lineman, held stout, protecting the imaginery quarterback.
The team got plenty of laughter out of it and Shock media guru Ryan Eucker managed to get some video. So if I see that, I'll pass it along.
It's apparent the team chemistry isn't just something the coaches and players like to preach. It's easy to see how close the team is and quarterback Erik Meyer told me that they hang out after practice regularly.
Favorite activity? That would be ping pong at the YMCA. Meyer is the self-proclaimed champion, but I'm sure others would take that title, as well.
The Shock will travel to San Jose on Thursday and then play Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Now, on to the quotes.
Head Coach Andy Olson
On practice atmosphere: We try to keep it light out here, try to have fun. This is a group of guys that likes to have fun, likes to compete, do a little extra with the coaching staff. The winning obviously helps, keeps everybody light, keeps everybody on their toes. We're still working hard. We're preparing very hard for San Jose and making sure that we come away with a win down there.
On competition during practice: We've done a lot of competition, not a lot of coaches competition, yet. We have done some and we're just trying to have fun. Make sure everybody's having a good time out here. It's very important, as far as winning goes. Good group of chemistry guys, it means a lot to them.
On not letting down: That was the message I gave Sunday, was that we need to stay humble. We've got a long road ahead. Fourteen games is no joke. We've got to keep our head down, keep working hard and not change anything that we're doing. Continue do things that we've done to get us 4-0 and make sure we do those all week so that we can be ready for San Jose on Friday.
On how team chemistry helps: We've been very disciplined. We've done a good job of studying the game. I think we've outworked most of the teams we've played. Just the continuity and the chemistry we've had those first four weeks have just been tremendous just because of all the returners. Guys have stayed within the system, they haven't tried to step outside the box. They're doing what they're asked of them and we're seeing the improvements on the field.
On any major injuries: I don't think so, we got a couple guys that are still beat up and will be decisions tomorrow afternoon, but hopefully we can have everybody back this weekend.
On recently signed receiver Duane Brooks: Played very well. I think he caught everything thrown his way last game. He responded a lot better than I thought he would, being his first AFL game versus the quality DBs he played against. Strong kid, man. He's strong willed, he catches everything thrown his way, he got a lot better this week in practice so far. I'm very happy to have him on this team.
Quarterback Erik Meyer
On the return to the road: We're looking at the same thing when we first started. It's another game on the road. We got to go down there, have some fun, take care of business and come out with a win. We're facing a good team, good crowd, it's going to be a challenge, but it's going to be exciting.
On San Jose: We know it's another division game, we know, good opponent. We got Garcia down there, veteran quarterback, all-time leader in the AFL. We know we got to go down there and we got to stay focused and stay humble and go down there and take care of business.
On what to expect in San Jose: They got some athletes out there, too. Like you said, they got the experience, they got the veterans out there playing. They know the game, it's not going to be a blowout. It's going to be a tough battle. We got to do what we do better than they do.
On team play: I think every week we had some guys out of position, doing some different things, since week 1. It's just kind of the guys we have on this team. We just got good chemistry, we take care of each other. The chemistry is a big thing for us. When guys are moving around like that, just got to trust them. Trust they're going to do the job. They haven't done it before but we just got to believe in one another.
On the team's level of play: We're playing well right now. The defense getting stops every game, offense we're taking care of the ball and scoring points. It's going good right now, we got to make sure we're still working during practice, staying focused and improving every day.
On if there is anything different this week: Nothing different. Every week we look at the same. It's a big game. This is the biggest game of the year for us right now. We're going down, facing a solid San Jose team. We got to make sure we're ready to go. Go down there, take care of business and come out with a win.
On new receiver Duane Brooks: He's a great player. During camp we had a lot of talent at receiver. He was definitely one of the tops of the talent. Unfortunately, [going] into week 1 it didn't quite work out. In camp he was awesome, we had some good chemistry. I was excited once we were bringing him back. It was nothing like, 'We got to learn this receiver.' Nothing. He came back ready to go. Stayed in shape and obviously it paid off. We were playing Arizona, a great team, and he did really well.
On if he feels comfortable throwing to him: Especially in a game like that. First home game, big crowd, good team and then to come in on that kind of stage as your first game, he did amazing. I think he had 10 catches. From the second play on, I wasn't afraid to throw him the ball.
More on Brooks and team chemistry: He was in camp the whole time, even all the way 'til the end. We had great chemistry. All the group of guys that we have, good chemistry, even the new guys that come in. They kind of come in and feel like a family atmosphere. That's what we try to start from day one, is just coming together, playing together. A lot of people don't really understand that's a big reason why we're winning, too, is not the stuff we're doing on the field, but stuff off the field. Locker room, hanging out outside, outside of football. Playing ping pong, whatever it may be. That goes a long way.
On who's the best ping pong player on the team: I just want to get on the record that I'm undefeated in ping pong. I'm the best and the second best is my left hand.