Power Spend Month Boosting Top-Ranked Defense
Last year Power head coach Derek Stingley helped recruit one of his former players, P.J. Berry, to become an impact player in Pittsburgh, and he has done the same with another of the Arena Football League’s rising stars.
Jack (pass coverage) linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson, formerly of the New Orleans VooDoo, has agreed to a three-year assignment with the Power, bringing the team’s preseason roster to 21 deep. AFL teams are allowed to invite a maximum 35 players to training camp.
Jackson led the league with 14 interceptions in 2012 to earn First Team All-Arena honors. The Power, as a team, recorded 17 picks this past season, and putting him back there with another ball-hawk and one of their top 2011 free agent pickups, defensive back Chris LeFlore (9 INT in 2012), may significantly improve a group that allowed the fewest yards in the league.
As part of their sophomore slump, culminating in a 5-13 finish, the Power finished last in the AFL in turnover margin (-17).
“Alvin Ray makes any defense he plays in better,” said Stingley. “My defense is his defense; it’s the defense where Alvin Ray cut his teeth in. He knows all the checks, he understands all the situations like down and distance, field awareness, time, and personnel. It will be like having another defensive coach on the field.”
Two other key defenders have rejoined the Power through free agency this month. Lineman Dominie Pittman recently extended his deal, and mac (pass-rushing) linebacker Gary Butler, a California (PA) graduate and charter member of the franchise, is back after a one-year absence.
Pittman, a full-time starter in 2012, recorded 23 solo tackles and 5.5 sacks in his first campaign with the Power.
Butler, as a 2011 rookie, finished with 40 solo tackles, seven passes blocked, four sacks, and three fumble recoveries.
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