Heading into the 2nd half of the Barons' training camp, we'll begin to take a deeper look at the key players on Brooklyn's roster and how their play will effect not only the team, but their future. Though league news has been slow, the Barons have done their best to keep the team's name in the public. The new regime wants to build a new culture, not only in the Barons' facilities, but in the hearts of the RFL fanbase. Though numerous names have been hurled into the media (largely fan favorites and upcoming rookies who've built comradery in the college series), the Barons hopes of winning the NFC North depend on these 5 guys.
1. Punter- Warren Orton
Once you get past the atrocity that was the Barons defense in season 4, you'll see that the unit didn't get very much help from their special teams. Orton, who is arguably a top tier RFL punter, was arguably the worst punter in the league... "statistically". Coach Woods was adamant on bringing in competition, but with RFL rules, he chose to forego the signing until the preseason. This move may have saved Orton. The punter has been phenomenal in camp. "The key will be consistency. If we get to week 4 and he's relaxed again, we'll bring in a guy. I told him that players in this league get paid off performance. We're not the Brooklyn of old. You're a weapon and I need you sharp whenever I draw you!" -Coach Woods
2. Defensive End- Wayman Yates
With the Barons attacking Defensive Line so early in the draft, much of the hype has gone to Cheeseburger🍔 and TVR🍎. However, the guy who makes Coach Woods feel comfortable enough to let those rookies play so freely is Wayman Yates. His underrated versatility allows Woods to shift the rookies into their comfort zone play by play. From 3-4 DE, 4-3 DE or 4-3 DT, Yates is able to collapse the pocket or hault the run. "It helps with game planning. A lot of coaches underestimate the strength of attacking specific lineman. I can use him as the attacker or the decoy. Plus, for him to be able to teach the rooks how to play on the entire defensive line, you couldn't ask for more. Once his contract was reworked, everything was a go!" -Coach Woods
3. Cornerback- Harmon Richardson
Who? The guy who may have been the most tested DB in Barons' camp so far. With the outstanding play of rookie De'Maurie Sparks in practice, Richardson has seen a fair share of targets. Being his first year in the RFL, it's been pertinent to challenge him early and often. Though he has been solid, the real test will come in the 2nd half of Barons training camp. "Really, he's kind of a rookie, too. He's adjusting to the way guys play in this league. These joint practices should give us a little bit of insight on who's our number 1 and who's our number 2." -Coach Woods After a bidding war with the Toronto Thunderbirds that surrendered CB Berry Cole, the biggest concern for Coach Woods is if "Richie" continues to display that he is, at minimum, a "Strong #2".
4. Right Tackle- Patrick Nguyen
The most underrated trade by Coach Woods so far has been acquiring Allen Trotter from the Explorers. Coach Woods immediately moved Trotter to Left Tackle and worked on getting the Oline together behind the scenes. Woods refused to move Nguyen to left tackle and sought out the best available pass blocker. One thing had become abundantly clear when analyzing the film; Patrick Nguyen is a behemoth in the run game, but a liability in protection. At 26 years old, Nguyen is entering his prime. Will his pass blocking woes continue in season 5? "He just needs a little more fight in him. He has the tools. It's just strengthening them. We may give him a little help if need be. Chip blocks here and there. At the end of the day, he's gotta execute." -Coach Woods
5. Safety- Hayden Herold
After being ranked at the bottom of the league in turnovers, Coach Woods sought out a playmaker. Someone who could change the flow of a game in a single moment. Someone to help shutdown the high profile wideouts in their new division. Someone to captain the ship. Hayden Herold joins a Barons defense in search of a leader. With an equal mix of youth and experience, Herold was given the hardy task of "organizing chaos". As the defensive unit adjusts to a new scheme and each other, Herold will be ask dominate at his position, as well as, manage the entirety of the defensive unit. Can the former Snowhawk help the Barons soar to new heights? "I haven't decided which side he'll play. It may be a situational thing. Where are his skill best this week? I just know, I can't let what he does go to waste!" -Coach Woods
With the influx of first year head coaches, combined with the sophomores adding more of their identities to their franchises, the power rankings will surely take a major shift this season. With the addition of two powerhouses and a growing team who fell one game short of the playoffs(and division), can the Barons prove they can "swim with the sharks", or will they remain amongst the "bottom feeders" of the RFL?
Twitter: @Baronsrfl @RFL_Sim_League