Mike Singletary sets tone at Express training camp

Mike Singletary sets tone at Express training camp

By Dylan Rubino

SAN ANTONIO — When Memphis Express head coach Mike Singletary talks, everyone listens.

Singletary was active and hands-on with his team on the first day of training camp in San Antonio Saturday afternoon. Hovering between the offensive and defensive groups Saturday afternoon, it’s clear that the head coach has a firm grasp on his new team.

“I was impressed with the way they worked and there was a lot of energy out here today,” Singletary said. “We’ve got to keep working at it, but it was a great first day.”

As intense as Singletary was as a linebacker in the National Football League, he’s just the same as a head coach. With multiple coaching stops in the NFL, including a stint as San Francisco 49ers head coach, Singletary brings the same passion and attitude that got him to this point in his career.

The players are taking advantage of having a Hall of Fame linebacker as their head coach and running with it.

“It’s tough, but easy at the same time,” linebacker DeMarquis Gates said. “It’s easy because he’s giving us all his tricks, but it’s hard for that same reason. He’s been there and done that before. We have to step up to his level.”

There are many tricks and pointers Singletary can give to his defensive players. Breaking bad habits was the key message to the defensive side of the football on the first day and something that can help develop a cohesive unit.

“We need to be a special defense and work towards the habits we need to develop, including communication,” Singletary said. “We need to be able to see Cover 1, Cover 2, Cover 3, and be able to see back there without even knowing what the call is. The technique for each defense is really important.”

On the offensive side, there are four quarterbacks on the roster capable of starting under center for the Express this season, including Troy Cook, Zach Mettenberger, Christian Hackenburg and Brandon Silvers. All four will get their shot at the starting job and all four showed out in the beginning of training camp.

“There are four guys that can start,” wide receiver Kayaune Ross said. “Four guys putting it right there in the basket. I’m just excited. I’m excited to catch some balls.”

“They’re all competing,” Singletary said of his quarterbacks. “It’s nice to see the competition. Of course they have some nice receivers to throw to and they’re developing a rapport early on. I saw some good connections up the field. It’s going to be a great battle.”

A good majority of the players hail from the southeast, many of whom come from the Southeastern Conference. Former opponents are now teammates and those players are building a special bond together.

“It’s a great experience. I love playing with great players,” Gates said. “It’s a great environment and being with guys with different experiences. They’re all coming together for one goal.”

As the sun set at Cornerstone Christian High School on the first day of training camp, the excitement is building for the Memphis Express and you can feel it from the coaching staff on down to the players. It’s a new beginning for the players and an opportunity to strap the helmets and pads on again.

“We’re just guys running around and having fun,” Ross said. “We all want to make each other better. Right now, we’re all in competition, but we want to make the room better and we all want to learn.”

“I’ve seen great athletes, great coaches and a great environment,” Gates said. “Everybody is ready to compete and everybody wants a job. Everybody is grinding.”