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SaberCats Receiving Corps Plays a Key Role in 2-0 Start

Griffin Aseltine
Sunday April 5, 2015

Following a significantly productive offseason, it is hardly a surprise to many that the San Jose SaberCats are already off to a solid start for the 2015 season. While some may attribute a 2-0 record to a solid defense, a dual-threat quarterback, and/or a relatively soft pair of matchups, one of the most critical factors as to why San Jose has recently dominated is the variety of receiving targets within its offense. So far, there barely seems to be a unanimous number one receiver for Erik Meyer, yet that is exactly what makes their receiving corps extremely dangerous and explosive at times.

"Coach Malley does a good job with the offense," Head Coach Darren Arbet commented following San Jose's second victory of the season. "There is no dead route... Whatever defense they're playing, someone is always going to be open."

The infamous names of these receivers alone speak for themselves within the realm of the Arena Football League, including Reggie Gray (leading receiver for the SaberCats in 2014), Ben Nelson (AFL veteran with First Team All-Arena recognition in 2010), Adron Tennell (First Team All-Arena recognition in 2013), and Darius Reynolds (Second Team All-Arena recognition in 2014), the latter two of which were just recently acquired over the past few months. These four receivers contribute the most when it comes to the team's receiving statistics in yards and receptions, with Gray having a slight edge.

San Jose SaberCats Receiving Statistics - First Two Games

Reggie Gray - 186 yards in 17 receptions plus three touchdowns
Ben Nelson - 116 yards in nine receptions plus three touchdowns
Adron Tennell - 84 yards in five receptions plus two touchdowns
Darius Reynolds - 79 yards in three receptions plus one touchdown

The numbers certainly do not explain the entire story. An individual player from each matchup was forced to spend some time off the field due to unfortunate, but inevitable, injuries. Adron Tennell had a rough landing against the Las Vegas Outlaws in Week 1, while Ben Nelson had a tweak of his own against the Los Angeles KISS in Week 2. Despite these seemingly major setbacks, the depth of San Jose's receiving corps truly made these circumstances seem fairly minor. Whenever one receiver was out, the remaining corps managed to cover up any potential hole from being a disastrous issue.

In addition to the four primary receivers, the SaberCats top it off with unique and unusual depth that manages to get the job done when necessary. Following Nelson's injury against the KISS, the SaberCats were down to only Gray and Reynolds, yet they managed to pull defensive back David Hyland to the offensive side of the ball in order to fill the void. Despite his lack of recent offensive experience, Hyland managed two receptions for 33 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

"Dave is our emergency receiver," Darren Arbet stated on Saturday, "[he] can play any position on this football team... he understands this game and he's a valuable player for us."

The fact that a defensive back knew the offensive schemes well enough to replace such quality receivers shows how strong the depth of the SaberCats truly is. It has been discussed many times that health is one of the primary assets San Jose needs to reach its fourth championship in franchise history. Yet, with thick depth and a powerful roster like this, one can only wonder how many injuries it will take to truly wear down the SaberCats. If the season continues at the pace it is currently at, San Jose will have no one to fear but itself.

Griffin Aseltine is an 18-year-old high school student and freelance writer who resides in San Jose, California. He has been fond of watching sports ever since experiencing the culture in his area shift a strong focus towards the San Francisco Giants following their World Series victory in 2010. Griffin became a San Jose SaberCats fan on the opening week of the 2012 season and has been a season ticket holder since 2013. He has contributed to First Stop Fantasy as a San Francisco 49ers writer since the start of the 2013 NFL season and has written for ArenaFan since the start of the 2014 AFL season. You can follow Griffin on Twitter @superduperm1.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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