Practice was done Thursday morning and most of the Jacksonville Sharks players and coaches had already left Plantation Park when Kyle Rowley convinced receiver Jeremy Kelley to hang around for a few extra passes.
Rowley, a former ArenaBowl-winning quarterback, made rapid-fire throws with no time for either to catch their breath.
Since the coaches were gone, Rowley wasn’t trying to impress anyone in this battle with fellow veteran R.J. Archer. He simply was trying to get better.
“I’ve have come into camp this season with the mentality to have a little bit of fun with these guys,” Rowley said after the team wrapped up its fifth practice in training camp. “Sometimes you can get bogged down in the details of the X’s and O’s, especially when you’re in a competition like this. You want to come in angry to prove yourself, but you have to remind yourself it’s a team game and it’s important to come out and jell. That’s a big part of becoming a good football team.”
Rowley and Archer are the only quarterbacks in camp for the Sharks. Aaron Garcia, who led Jacksonville to the AFL championship in 2011, was obtained by the Sharks earlier this month in a trade with Orlando, but Garcia, 43, said he now plans to retire.
Rowley, who threw nine touchdowns in Spokane’s 2010 ArenaBowl victory over Tampa Bay, and Archer have combined for seven seasons and 399 touchdown passes. That’s why head coach Les Moss isn’t worried.
“We can win with either of these guys,” he said. “Right now they’re still neck and neck. Neither of them has separated himself from the other. They’ve both had their good moments in camp; they’ve both made some mistakes.”
Moss said Sunday’s controlled scrimmage against Tampa Bay will important for both. He hopes to identify some favorites in several key matchups during the preseason game.
“We’re going to get some answers,” he said. “There are a lot of tough choices to make.”
Kickoff at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena is 4 p.m. There is no admission, but the team asks that fans donate pet food to benefit First Coast No More Homeless Pets.
Archer and Rowley often push each other in practice. While they are fighting for a starting job, they want each other to succeed.
“Both of us understand whoever’s in there, we’re both on the same team,” Archer said. “We’re here to win games and the championship. We push each other but it’s not necessarily that we’re going back and forth, it’s trying to help each other.”
Camp will continue until the season-opening game March 16 at Orlando.