Legends defense develops chemistry at practice
By Jaylon Thompson, Atlanta Legends Team Reporter
SAN ANTONIO – Atlanta Legends cornerback Donnie Miles Jr.’s eyes lit up after collecting an interception in the team portion of Tuesday’s practice.
Only green grass stood between him and the end zone. As he maneuvered down the sideline, he was followed by a host of teammates. Once he crossed the end line, the entire defensive unit joined him for a celebratory photo shoot.
The lasting image was symbolic for two reasons. It capped off a great defensive play and offered an inside look at the bond the Legends have formed as a team.
“You got to have fun with your brothers,” Miles Jr. said. “I think that is what we are building. We are like family and a close-knit group.”
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In the early stages of training camp, the Legend defense has shined in team sessions. The unit had another good day at Tuesday’s practice. The secondary collected back-to-back interceptions and the front seven created pressure throughout.
Several players found a rhythm at practice. They were energized in defensive drills and had constant communication during install periods.
As a result, the Legends started to form a defensive identity. Led by standouts on all levels, the unit is hoping to be a disruptive force in The Alliance.
“You need all 11 (players) on defense,” Miles Jr. said. “I think as long as we keep everyone active, we will be really good.”
One of the strongest groups is the defensive line. The unit has gotten better each day under the tutelage of defensive line coach Leroy Thompson. He has motivated each player to develop a strategy, enabling success at the point of attack.
Thompson requires consistency in all phases of practice. Thompson believes that has been a key to the defensive line’s improved play.
“All these guys have something they bring to the table,” Thompson said. “I am not re-inventing the wheel and giving anything new to them. I am helping to bring them along and help them with the stuff they already have.”
Defensive players like Jason Carr and Antonio Simmons have flourished in camp. Both have been disruptive in flushing the quarterback pocket and getting into the backfield. This has helped the rest of the defense be more aggressive in coverage.
“It’s very fun,” Carr said. “They have us coming off the ball (strong). We are making sure to move the offensive line and create separation.”
Simmons agreed. He is pleased with how far the defense has come in a short amount of time.
“(Coach Thompson) is teaching the ins and outs of the game from hand placements to bending around the edge,” Simmons said. “It’s all about the get-off and placing our hands.”
The Legends hope to continue bringing team chemistry as training camp progresses. Each day is a chance to get better and prove themselves. Along the way, they look to have fun doing it.
“When everybody is having fun, it brings everyone to another level,” Miles Jr. said.