Mark Brown

Temple product Haason Reddick displaying intangibles to succeed with Cardinals

Temple product Haason Reddick displaying intangibles to succeed with Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. — While the physical talent is a known quantity, the push for Haason Reddick to succeed must come from within. A combination of talent, knowledge, acumen, desire and all the other tangibles and intangibles that make up an NFL player tend to be byproducts of the journey.

The capacity to succeed and aptitude for success, many believe, lay between the ears. If that is the criteria for personal conquest in the NFL, then Camden, New Jersey, native Reddick, selected by the Arizona Cardinals with their first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2017 draft, is clearly on the right path.

Here in the beginning of training camp, Reddick transitions to the NFL with a quiet confidence. He projects an image that embodies the essence of combining physical conditioning with his value to the Cardinals. While Reddick recognizes the task ahead, he also shifts to the future with a clear vision.

“I think I can be great,” he said Friday before practice at the University of Phoenix Stadium. “I always believed in myself. As soon as I learn, I mean really learn, what I’m supposed to do, that’s when I’ll let loose and let my talent take over. Then, I’ll be able to be great.”

As Reddick begins his introduction to the NFL, the projection and forecast for this hybrid player seem off the charts. With the speed of a defensive back, the mobility of a linebacker and the physical nature of a defensive lineman, Reddick could be the prototype of the future. Listed at 6-1 and 235 pounds, the physical tools are clearly in place. Now, comes the education.

Amid great appraisal and assessment, Reddick now descends on the NFL level. From a walk-on at Temple, to All-American stature and a first-round selection, his physical tools represent the height of his talent. When Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said Reddick possesses “unbelievable talent and speed,” the accolades, like a geyser, pour from this core.

For now, Reddick is penciled in at the hybrid spot, a position known in the Cardinals’ defense as “the dollar linebacker.” That’s currently held by Deone Bucannon, who's recovering from ankle surgery this past May and is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Listed as a linebacker on the Cardinals' depth chart, Reddick continues to prepare for a myriad of roles. At the center, Arians identities the South Jersey native as “a pure pass rusher.”

With his talents clearly in place, the processing of information now begins for Reddick.

“He needs to be a sponge and make sure his sponge is never filled,” said veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby, who is entering his 14th NFL season. “His talent is off the chart. It’s about how he uses that talent and how he prepares.”

For now, Larry Foote, the Cardinals' linebacker coach, and Dansby are the two most prominent figures on Reddick’s radar screen. Hugging his playbook before bed each night and reviewing pages the next morning, Reddick said the introduction to the NFL can be overwhelming. Clearly, preparation for the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and all others this fall is a far change from a year ago. That’s when Reddick and the Owls began preparation for Army, Central Florida and Memphis.

Now, Reddick has traded cherry and white for cardinal red and, as his NFL career nears its advent, he is prepared to move forward.

“The transition is about stepping up and maximizing my full potential,” he said. “It’s about coming in and making an impact wherever I’m needed. There’s an understanding about that now. I’m in the NFL, and going against way better competition. Guys have been doing this for a living, and now are really serious.”

Former Flyers hoping to bring Ed Snider's values to Coyotes

Former Flyers hoping to bring Ed Snider's values to Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. — After opening the season with a 4-2 win over the Kings at the STAPLES Center on Friday (see story), the Flyers are on course to engage several quite familiar with their culture and ways.

With commencement of the hockey marathon underway, the Flyers now head about 300 miles east to the desert and take on the Arizona Coyotes. Expect an encounter here of steep appreciation for the Flyers’ methodology, approach and history.

Sure, members of the Coyotes’ organization remember donning the orange and black with pride and skating out to a cheering band of zealots night after night. In the end, the shadow of Ed Snider, the way he built this team and earned iconic stature, remains seared in the memory of those who coached and played.

When the Flyers take on Arizona, two players from last season’s squad, center Ryan White and defenseman Luke Schenn, now sporting Sedona Red, have the ability to bring those elements of the culture so praised throughout the NHL. Plus, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett ended his playing career in Philadelphia, and still holds in high esteem the values and standards established by the Snider regime. Above all, Tippett recalls, Snider always had his fingerprints on the pulse and temper of the organization, and did things the right way.

After 10 seasons with Hartford, Washington and Pittsburgh, Tippett and Terry Simpson, the Flyers’ coach during the 1993-94 season and Tippett’s former junior coach, were reunited at Broad and Pattison. Though Kevin Dineen was the Flyers’ captain at the time and a former teammate of Tippett with the Whalers, it was Simpson who influenced Tippett to play his final NHL season at the Spectrum.

“I remember at the end of the year that I contemplated retirement,” Tippett said after a recent practice at the Gila River Arena. “[Snider] called me in to his office, we sat and talked for an hour about the history of the Flyers, and his part in building the new arena (the Wells Fargo Center). He was truly a remarkable man. He just had a demeanor that was phenomenal, and you see that throughout their whole organization.”

Since the Flyers captured back-to-back Stanley Cups in their first eight seasons, the shadow of this franchise stretches far beyond the walls of the Skate Zone and Wells Fargo Center. There is something quite permanent about playing for this team and the experience seems to follow. Players move to teams, others retire, and still others go into coaching and management. For those who remain and become great symbols of a glorious past, like Bernie Parent, the Watson brothers, Bob Kelly and so many luminaries, the sense of history and accomplishment is enduring and everywhere.

“Playing for the Flyers was a dream come true,” White said. “You think about the players who played here, and what they did. It was just a great privilege to be there. I just hope I can bring those attributes to the Coyotes.”

A unique start
Though the Flyers are one game into the season, the contest at the Gila River Arena will be the Coyotes’ initial game.

This is also an opportunity for rising Arizona defenseman Connor Murphy to play in front of his father, Flyers assistant coach Gord Murphy. With the teams engaging so early in the season, and return to face each other again Oct. 27 at the Wells Fargo Center, this remains a unique father-son matchup.

“With all the emotions of opening night, the fans going wild, lining up at the blue line, the anthem, and then I play against my dad,” Connor said. “It’s crazy. We’ve texted over the past few weeks, but our schedules are so different. We haven’t communicated all that often. Plus, I’m out here in the Western time zone, and that’s tough for him.”

Though Gord handles the blueliners for coach Dave Hakstol, he offers little in way of instruction and advice to Connor. In turn, Gord watches his son whenever possible, and Connor admits to keeping track of the Flyers.

“If he sees something that’s recurring, he’ll let me know,” Connor added. “He knows how well-coached we are, and keeps a distance.”

Jake Metz, Soul credit strong 4th-quarter defensive effort for championship win

Jake Metz, Soul credit strong 4th-quarter defensive effort for championship win

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Despite the Soul leading by three touchdowns early in ArenaBowl XXIX, there was little cheering from the their bench.

Given the volatility that is Arena League football and the frequency with which teams can strike, the approach remained resolute and determined. Defensive tackle Jake Metz kept the mindset of a scoreless game and could not stop hearing words coming from Ron Jaworski, a highly vocal partner in the Soul’s ownership.

“He kept yelling that offense gets headlines but defense wins championships,” said Metz, who currently lives in Schwenksville, Montgomery County, and went to Shippensburg University. “That resounded with me, and brought the championship.”

Metz and his defensive teammates then went out and shut down a highly hazardous and explosive Arizona Rattlers offensive unit en route to a 56-42 win (see story). Led by quarterback Nick Davila, the only three-time MVP in Arena Football League history, the Rattlers could manage only seven points in a critical fourth quarter.

At the same time, Metz recovered a fumble by Davila with the Soul holding a slim six-point margin with just under six minutes to play. That turnover was the key point in the Soul’s eventual win, and cemented the role of the defense as a shut-down unit.

On the subsequent possession, Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh connected with Shaun Kauleinamoku on a 30-yard scoring strike. That created a 14-point comfort zone and the final margin of victory.

“These players deserve this championship,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said. “This is a first class organization and ownership gives the players a first-class experience. That way, we can attract great players, and with great players comes success.”

In capturing the league title Friday night, the victory was the second in franchise history. In 2008, the Soul and Phillies each won championships, and that was the last time a professional team captured a title in Philadelphia.

Metz remembers the Phillies' win over the Rays, and pointed out, “I went to those games as a kid.” That championship stuck with the 6-foot-6, 265 pounder, and helped to forge a championship mentality.

Early in the fourth quarter, Arizona caught the Soul at 42-42. From that point, Raudabaugh directed two scoring drives, and along with Metz’s important fumble recovery, carried the Soul to the title.

“It’s all about how you respond,” said Raudabaugh, who finished with 20 for 36 for 278 yards and six touchdowns. “Granted, they have a very explosive team, but we were never out it. They did come back, but we had an answer for them.”

The answer was a strong defense which Dolezel indicated was playing at their peak just prior to the title game.

Defensive back Tracy Belton, the AFL defensive player of the year and DB Dwayne Hollis, whose fumble recovery for a touchdown early in the game was another key defensive play, clearly showed how a defense can carry a team to a league title. That was the effort the Soul brought together in an environment as unpredictable as the Arena Football League.