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Observations from Arlington Renegades Open Practice: Special Teams

While all eyes were on the offense and defense for the Arlington Renegades during their open practice on Saturday, the special teams shined through the cloudy weather.

The wind didn’t seem to have an effect on what the kickers were doing as they seemed to have a near-flawless practice. Taylor Russolino and Marquette King were knocking the balls deep and were able to hit them with accuracy. There wasn’t any noticeable that would cause concern as the special team unit lived up to expectations.

Key Notes From Arlington Renegades Practice: Special Teams

Booming Kicks and Clean Snaps

Many fans have called the special teams of the Renegades the best in the league and they truly didn’t disappoint the fans. Russolino showed off his leg as he was able to nail some long field goals. Russolino didn’t miss a single kick during the practice. It’s safe to say that he appears to be the same kicker XFL fans got to see during the 2020 XFL season.

King impressed during practice as well with nailing the ball 50 to 60 yards each time he made contact with the football. King had great height on each kick and positioned his balls in the right spot to help his coverage team. He showed fans how he was able to have success in the NFL and should he continue to kick the ball how he is, it could lead to another opportunity.

Fans can’t forget about the importance of being a long snapper as their job is to make sure every snap is on point. Antonio Ortiz was another prime example of someone who didn’t miss on any of his snaps. Not one time did Ortiz have a snap that was too high or too low as King caught the ball every time easily whether it was as a holder or a punter. Ortiz looks poised to have a strong season at the long snapper position.

Finding the Right Returners

What was interesting was to see who would be the kickoff and punt returners for the Renegades. It was easy to think that Rannell Hall and Joe Powell might be early favorites since they have done it in the past in the XFL or other leagues. The Renegades have other thoughts as there were multiple different players returning the ball.

De’Montre Tuggle is the easiest to start with as he was the only kickoff returner catching the ball for the Renegades during the practice. While fans didn’t really get to see much of what he can do, it makes sense to see him returning kickoffs as he has great speed and can be a threat in the open field. It’s not known if others will be considered for the role, but Tuggle appears to be the front-runner for kickoff returns.

As for who is taking back punts, that one is not as clear as the kickoff returner. At one point, there were five players returning punts for the Renegades in practice. Some of the standout returning punts include Flynn Nagel, Tyler Vaughns, and Sean Modster. The receiver position could be deep for Arlington as if receivers need to be the returners, it could lead to more than five receivers being on the roster on day one.

Final Analysis

Clear expectations from all XFL fans are the Renegades are favorites to win the XFL title this season. One reason that might be overlooked is the special teams and the role they will play. King and Russolino are veterans who have previously shown success in the XFL and the NFL. They will play a major role in making sure the Renegades won’t be at the bottom of the league.

King will be key in field positioning and making sure the opposing team’s offense starts in a bad field position to help an already stacked defense in Arlington. Russolino was nearly automatic in field goals back in the 2020 XFL so he should be able to play a key role in keeping games close with his legs.

The only lingering question is how will the returners do for the Renegades. Back in 2020, Austin Walter proved his worth with a kickoff return for a touchdown in week five against the New York Guardians. That play earned him an NFL roster spot. The Renegades need one of the skill guys to step up as a returner to help the offense out. If this team can find their return specialist, this is a team that can win in all three phases of the game.

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Anthony Miller is a credential reporter and writer for XFL NewsHub. Anthony writes about the NFL, specifically the Philadelphia Eagles. Follow Anthony on Twitter @ByAnthonyMiller.

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