Oakland Raiders To Bring In Safety Taylor Mays

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports Taylor Mays will sign with the Oakland Raiders.

The six-year safety was released by the Detroit Lions last week. Mays signed with the Lions this offeason following his release from the Minnesota Vikings in March.

Mays has started only four games since his rookie season, and tallied 98 tackles and one forced fumble in his career.

The former USC standout will be reunited with his former coach college coach Ken Norton Jr. in Oakland.

Sacramento River Cats Fall To Omaha Storm Chasers 6-0

OMAHA, NE. – The Sacramento River Cats were unable to resume their winning ways Monday night in Omaha, falling 6-0 to the host Storm Chasers. Former first round pick Chris Stratton was roughed up early, and the lack of offensive support from the Sacramento bats pushed the River Cats back to a .500 record.

Tupelo, Mississippi’s own Stratton (3-5, 4.19) did not look his best Monday night, lasting just 5 innings. He allowed 6 runs on 9 hits during that time, walking 4 and striking out 4 in the process. The start ties the most runs Stratton has allowed in an outing this year (allowed 6 on July 22 vs. El Paso).

Omaha got on the board early, plating two runs with two-outs in the second to take an early lead. They would strike again in the next frame, as the first six batters in the inning all reached base, with three scoring on a home run from Cheslor Cuthbert and then another run off a Stratton wild pitch.

Sacramento was unable to manufacture many offensive chances in the game. Their only opportunities came in the first when Everth Cabrera made it to third with two outs. Again in the seventh, the River Cats got Joaquin Arias to third with two outs, but in both cases they would strand the runner in scoring position. The River Cats finished the night 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

Right-hander Andy Ferguson (5-3, 3.16) looked very strong in his start for the Storm Chasers, as he worked 6.2 innings. Ferguson allowed just 3 hits in his shutout performance, surrendering no walks and striking out 2. Tuesday was the fifth time, and just the second time on the road, that the River Cats were shutout this year.

The loss pushes the River Cats back to .500 (65-65) on the season. Sacramento is currently on a stretch in which they have finished the last 12 season with a winning record. In order to secure a winning record this year, the River Cats must win seven of their final 13 games. In the history of the Pacific Coast League, no team has ever recorded 13 consecutive winning seasons.

There was one bright spot for the River Cats on Tuesday, as pitcher Ty Blach was named PCL Pitcher of the Week for the week of August 17-13. Blach made two starts in that time, leading the league in innings pitched (17), ERA (0.53), opponents’ batting average (.107), and WHIP (0.53).

Sacramento will look to get back on the winning side tomorrow night in game three of this four game set. It will be the right-hander Tommy Hanson (2-5, 6.43), coming off of back-to-back wins, for the River Cats. Opposing him will be righty Clayton Mortensen (7-9, 5.40) toeing the rubber for the Storm Chasers. First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. (PT) and can be heard live on rivercats.com, or after the conclusion of The Rise Guys on ESPN 1320.

Game Recap Courtesy of the Sacramento River Cats Media Relations

San Jose SaberCats Reggie Gray Earns AFL Wide Receiver Of The YEAR AWARD

LAS VEGAS – The Arena Football League Office announced today San Jose SaberCats wide receiver Reggie Gray has been named Cutters Wide Receiver of the Year.

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Gray (5-10, 185, Western Illinois) set every major single-season receiving record in San Jose history, totaling 162 catches for 1,695 yards and a League-high 44 touchdowns in 2015. Last season’s J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Year, Gray raised his game to a new level in his fifth AFL season, earning First Team All-Arena honors for the first time in his career. This is also his first Cutters Wide Receiver of the Year selection and the first time a San Jose SaberCat has won the award.

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Press Release Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

Sacramento’s Historic Win Streak Comes To An End In Omaha; River Cats Unable to Overcome Three Storm Chasers Home Runs In 4-3 Loss

OMAHA, NE. – The Sacramento River Cats’ franchise-best 13-game win streak came to an end Sunday night, as the Omaha Storm Chasers topped the River Cats 4-3, handing them their first loss since August 8th. Despite tying the game late, Sacramento was unable to overcome three Omaha home runs as they dropped game one of this four game series.

Sacramento’s 13 straight wins is just one short of tying the Las Vegas 51s for the longest Pacific Coast League win streak since 2005. The 51s won 14 consecutive games this season, spanning from April 23 – May 7.

After an hour game delay, the River Cats wasted no time getting on the board Sunday evening. Darren Ford drew a walk to lead off the game, and Jarrett Parker’s ground-rule double drove in Ford with the first run of the night. Sacramento battled back and forth with Omaha for control of the game, keeping the score close with runs in each of the sixth and seventh innings.

Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson continued to shine, each with two hits and an RBI on the night. Williamson’s multi-hit night is his 11th since joining the River Cats in late June. The duo are hitting a combined .398 (35-for-88) over their last 10 games with five home run, 24 RBI, and 23 runs scored.

All of Omaha’s scoring in tonight’s game came from home runs. Blasts from Jose Martinez, Reymond Fuentes, and a rehabbing Alex Gordon were all the Storm Chasers needed to top the River Cats. Gordon’s two-run homer in his third rehab at-bat in the fifth snapped a 1-1 tie between the teams. Martinez’s game-winning home run in the eighth inning also broke a tie, propelling Omaha past Sacramento.

Jake Dunning had a rough outing, lasting only four innings on the mound. He allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk with one strikeout. Most of Dunning’s trouble came in the fifth inning when Omaha led off with three consecutive hits, including Gordon’s two-run home run. Dunning was pulled with a runner on base and without having recorded an out.

Brett Bochy picked up where Dunning left off and got the River Cats out of the inning without any more damage. Bochy retired five consecutive batters and six of the seven he faced. Curtis Partch, who gave up the game-winning home run, picks up his third loss.

Game two of this four game set will bring Chris Stratton (3-4, 3.78) to the mound for the River Cats. Stratton took a no decision in his last start, tossing four innings and allowing three runs on four hits and four walks while striking out four. All three of his wins have come on the road, where he is 3-2 with a 3.19 ERA. He is 3-1 in his last four starts with a 4.76 ERA. The Storm Chasers will counter with Andy Ferguson (4-3, 3.54). First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. (PT).

Game Recap Courtesy of the Sacramento River Cats Media Relations

 

Sacramento Republic FC Ties With Real Monarchs SC 1-1

Justin Braun scores his fourth USL goal of the year, but Real Monarchs equalize late as Republic FC settles for 1-1 draw.

Republic FC enjoyed most of the possession early in the match. Forward Thomas Stewart had the first real chance of the match in the 34th minute. Stewart sent a header on goal from inside the six-yard box after a Rodrigo Lopez cross was deflected. Real Monarchs keeper Eduardo Fernandez was there to block it away however and kept the match scoreless going into the half.

Republic FC continued to dominate possession to begin the second half and in the 67th minute it would pay off. Midfielder Rodrigo Lopez attacked with the ball on the left flank and got into the box. Lopez then picked up his target, Justin Braun, and drilled a cross through the air that found the forward’s head. Braun calmly redirected the cross into a wide open net after Fernandez was forced to defend the threat of Lopez. The goal was Braun’s 4th in USL play in 2015 and the assist adds to Rodrigo Lopez’s all-time USL record.

Real Monarchs capitalized on a counterattack opportunity in the 86th minute. Second-half substitute Lucas Baldin sprinted up the left flank of the Republic FC defense and received a through ball from forward Emery Welshman. Baldin continued towards goal and was able to wrap a right-footed curler around oncoming Republic FC keeper Patrick McLain for the equalizing goal.

Republic FC forward Gabe Gissie, in his first USL start of the season, had a chance for a winner in stoppage time, but his left-footed side-volley went just high keeping the score 1-1.

“We’ve only got ourselves to blame,” Republic FC Head Coach and Technical Director Paul Buckle said after the match. “We haven’t been beaten, we have to take positives from it, but we are disappointed.”

Republic FC will be back in action again on Saturday, August 22, when they take on Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Bonney Field. Kickoff is 8:00 pm. A limited number of tickets are still available at Ticketmaster.com.

Game Recap Courtesy of the Sacramento Republic FC Media Relations

Walk-Off Magic In West Sacramento; River Cats Win 13th Straight On Noonan Walk-Off Single

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA. – The Sacramento River Cats won in walk-off fashion for the ninth time this season and third time this week, topping the visiting New Orleans Zephyrs 2-1 in 10 innings. 14,117 were on hand Saturday night as both starting pitchers dueled into the late innings, and all 14,117 stayed into extras to watch the River Cats win their 13th straight on Nick Noonan’s game-winning RBI-single.

Sacramento found themselves in extra innings for the 16th time this season as they went to the tenth tied 1-1 with the Zephyrs. Jarrett Parker led off the bottom of the inning with a double down the right-field line, cruising into second base standing. New Orleans’ Nick Wittgren managed to get Mac Williamson to fly out harmlessly before striking out Hector Sanchez for the second out of the inning.

That brought Noonan to the plate. The left-handed hitting shortstop was 0-2 with a sacrifice fly prior to the at bat, and after fouling off a number of pitches, lined a base hit back up the middle to score Parker and send the River Cats home winners. Noonan was responsible for the River Cats’ first run, as well, again driving in Parker with a second inning sacrifice fly. Overall, he was 1-for-3 with two RB, raising his batting average to .263.

This is the ninth time this season that the River Cats have walked off to a victory and the third in their last seven games. They beat the Round Rock Express 3-2 in 13 innings on 8/16 and then beat the Zephyrs by a score of 4-3 in 13 innings just two nights ago.

Both starting pitchers were excellent in this one. Ty Blach was dealing for the River Cats, holding the Zephyrs hitless through the first five innings. The left-hander, who tossed a complete game shutout in his last start, went eight excellent innings for Sacramento, allowing just one run on three hits and one walk while striking out four. He threw 96 pitches in the outing, 65 of them for strikes.

New Orleans’ starter and former River Cats pitcher Travis Blackley was equally impressive, tossing seven innings of one-run ball. Blackley gave up three hits, walked none, and recorded a season-high eight strikeouts. After allowing the River Cats’ second-inning run, Blackley shut down the Sacramento offense, even retiring the final thirteen straight batters he faced.

Mike Broadway picked up the win for the River Cats with two dominant innings in relief. Broadway pitched a perfect ninth and tenth, striking out two as he improved to 2-0 and lowered his already incredible ERA to 0.93 for the season.

The win extends Sacramento’s win streak to 13 games, just one shy of the Las Vegas 51s’ 14-game streak from earlier this year. Since 2005, only Las Vegas’ streak is longer than the River Cats’. The win also gave the River Cats their third straight series sweep, something that the franchise has never achieved in their 15 year history in West Sacramento.

The River Cats head out on their last road trip of the year early tomorrow morning before taking on the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals – AL) for four games. Jake Dunning (4-1, 5.15) will open the series for Sacramento as he makes his first start since May 4. Left-hander Chris Dwyer (2-2, 4.22) gets the nod for Omaha. First pitch is set for 3:05 p.m. (PT) and the game can be heard live online at rivercats.com. The game will also air in its entirety at 7:05 p.m. (PT) on the air on ESPN 1320.

Game Recap Courtesy of the Sacramento River Cats Media Relations

San Jose SaberCats Advance to Arena Bowl XXVII With 70-67 Win Over The Arizona Rattlers

All Photo by Shawn Jonas

STOCKTON, CA. – The no.1 seed San Jose SaberCats advanced to their fifth Arena Bowl in team history by defeating the number two seed Arizona Ratters, 70-67 at the Stockton Arena in the National Conference Championship Game.

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Trailing 60-55 with less than two minutes remaining, the SaberCats scored on a nine-yard pass from Quarterback Erik Meyer to Rich Ranglin; converting the two-point conversion, to give the SaberCats a 63-60 lead. Arizona recovered the ensuing onside kick and regained the lead, 67-63 on an eight-yard pass from Nick Davila to Kerry Reed.

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With 20 seconds remaining, the SaberCats took over for one final possession with a spot in Arena Bowl XXVIII on the line. Reggie Gray, the Arena Football League leader in touchdowns and receptions this season, hauled in a six-yard pass from Meyer and reached out to break into the end zone.

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Gray’s second touchdown of the game gave the SaberCats a 67-70 lead with just eight seconds left. Arizona attempted a last second field goal but the kick from Alex Zendajas fell short, as Gray grabbed the kick in front of the nets, securing the win.

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“In a game like this they never wavered and continued to fight and they got it done,” said Owner and Head Coach Darren Arbet, who celebrated the win in his hometown.

The past three seasons have ended for the SaberCats with a playoff loss to the Rattlers; however, the 2015 SaberCats debunked that streak, reaching the Arena Bowl for the first time since 2008 and sweeping the three-game series with the Rattlers this season.

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In a back-and-forth duel, the top two seeds in the National Conference traded scoring drives on each of their first six possessions. On their opening drive, The Rattlers got on the
board with a 14-yard touchdown from Davila to Rod Windsor.

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Answering in true championship fashion, the SaberCats evened the score at 7-7, when receiver Darius Reynolds got behind the defense and Meyer found him for the 42-yard touchdown bomb. Meyer completed touchdown passes to three different receivers in the first half, including two with Reynolds, who finished with three receptions for 104 yards and three touchdowns.

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“Darius is very athletic and he was healthy this week so we played him, said Arbet. “He has speed, size and can jump too.”

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Ranglin grabbed two touchdown receptions fourth quarter; while Meyer threw for 351 yards and nine touchdowns to five different receivers.Against his former team, Maurice Purify led all SaberCats with nine receptions for 150 yards, adding a 24-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

Leading the Rattlers with 39 touchdowns receptions in the regular season, Windsor hauled in four touchdowns in the first half, finishing with eight receptions for 104 yards and four touchdowns.

Opening the second half, San Jose took its first lead of the game at 41-35, when Reynolds added a 41-yard touchdown as he broke a tackle, got a block downfield and pulled away for the score. The SaberCats would miss the ensuing PAT. The Rattlers equalized with a fourth down touchdown reception by Chase Deadder, his first of the game. On the PAT, Donte Paige-Moss blocked Alex Zendejas kick, keeping the score even at 41-41.

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After trading touchdown drives in the beginning of the fourth quarter, the SaberCats number one ranked scoring defense forced a fourth down turnover with 8:30 remaining in the game. Taking over on offense, The SaberCats would be stopped with an interception by Arkieth Brown, leading to a 20-yard touchdown pass from Davila to Deadder, giving Arizona a 54-48 lead after a missed PAT. Davila completed 22-of-37 passes for 260 yards and eight touchdowns.

The SaberCats will host the winner of the American Conference Championship between the Jacksonville Sharks and Philadelphia Soul in Arena Bowl XXVIII on Saturday, August 29th at 4pm PDT on ESPN and 1220AM KDOW.

Offensive Player of the Game: Erik Meyer
Defensive Player of the Game: Jeremy Kellem
J Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: Rod Windsor
AFL Highlight of the Game: Darius Reynolds 41-yard TD 3rd QT
Cutters Catch of the Game: Darius Reynolds 21-yard TD 2nd QT

Game Recap Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

Oakland Raiders Ken Stabler Selected As Senior Finalist For Pro Football Hall Of Fame

CANTON, OHIO – Quarterback Ken Stabler and guard Dick Stanfel were selected as senior finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016. Stabler and Stanfel were picked by the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee that met in Canton today.

“This is wonderful news for the Snake, wonderful news for anybody that has ever associated with Stabler, the Raider Nation, the Raiders, all of the coaches and players who ever played with him.
“Everybody that played with him and coached him knew that he had those qualities. He was a Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate way back then. So, it’s magical that he finally made it (as a finalist). It’s long overdue and I’m very happy for him.”
– Former Raiders Head Coach Tom Flores

Stabler was drafted in the second round out of Alabama by the Oakland Raiders in 1968. The left-handed quarterback was known for his exciting style of play and ability to win games. He compiled an impressive .661 winning percentage over his 15-season career with the Oakland Raiders (1970-79), Houston Oilers (1980-81) and New Orleans Saints (1982-84). In all, “The Snake” threw for 27,938 yards and 194 touchdowns in his 184-game career. Stabler, who passed away on July 8, 2015, was the only quarterback since the AFL-NFL merger to lead his team to five consecutive conference championship games. He guided the Raiders to the AFC title game each season from 1973-77. He also quarterbacked Oakland to a victory in Super Bowl XI with a 32-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Stabler was twice named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player (1974 and 1976) and voted to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s.
Stanfel, who passed away on June 22, 2015, was selected in the second round of the 1951 draft by the Detroit Lions. In seven seasons with the Lions (1952-55) and Washington Redskins (1956-58), he developed the reputation as one of the finest guards in the NFL.

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The former University of San Francisco standout was named first-team All-NFL five times, voted to four Pro Bowls and selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1950s. He also was once voted by his teammates as the Lions Most Valuable Player. Noted as a team leader, Stanfel was an integral part of the Lions teams that appeared in three straight NFL championship games. Detroit captured back-to-back NFL titles in 1952 and 1953.

The Seniors Committee is comprised of nine members of the overall selection committee. Through mail vote, the 2016 senior nominees were reduced to a final list of candidates. Then, on a rotating basis, five of the nine members meet at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton to discuss each of the senior candidates and select the finalist. A senior nominee is a player whose career ended at least 25 years ago.
Stabler and Stanfel must receive the same 80 percent voting support that is required of all finalists. The Hall’s Selection Committee, at its annual meeting to be held on Saturday, February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, Calif., will consider 18 finalists, including two Seniors (Stabler and Stanfel), one Contributor (to be named in early September), and 15 Modern-Era candidates (to be determined from a preliminary list announced in mid-September). Current bylaws call for a class no smaller than four or larger than eight. The Seniors finalists will be voted on for election independent of the other finalists.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016 will be formally enshrined during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 4-7, 2016. The Enshrinement Ceremony is televised nationally by the Hall of Fame’s broadcast partners, NFL Network and ESPN.

Courtesy of Oakland Raiders Media Relations

National Conference Championship Game Preview: San Jose SaberCats Face Arizona Rattlers

All photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE – The no.1 seed San Jose SaberCats will host the no.2 seed Arizona Rattlers for the National Conference Championship Game on Saturday, August 22nd at the Stockton Arena. Kickoff is set for 5:00 pm PDT and you can catch the action on ESPNEWS, as well as KDOW 1220AM.

One of the best rivalries in Arena Football League history will add another chapter to the saga, with a trip to Arena Bowl XXVIII on the line. Three weeks ago the San Jose SaberCats clinched home field advantage throughout the 2015 AFL playoffs with a home victory. That crucial win was over the three-time defending Arena Bowl Champion Rattlers, the same team that knocked the SaberCats out of the playoffs in last season’s National Conference Championship game.

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This season, however; San Jose statistically has the top scoring offense and defense in the league, while defeating teams by a remarkable average of 22.2 points per game in the regular season.
The previous meeting between these rivals was on July 31st, where the SaberCats defeated the Rattlers 56-29. San Jose held a slight, 29-26 lead at halftime, before outscoring Arizona 27-3 in the second half, en route to the victory. Quarterback Erik Meyer threw for 286 yards and eight touchdowns (second highest total of the season), while completing 72.5-percent on his passes and was not sacked. Despite the strong attack of the Rattlers’ pass rush, the SaberCats offensive line proved to be a force in keeping Meyer protected.
The receiving tandem of Reggie Gray and Maurice Purify asserted itself as the catalyst on offense. Each had three touchdown receptions in the contest, with Gray hauling in 11 receptions for 88 yards and Purify leading the way with 108 receiving yards. The leading receivers for the SaberCats over the final three weeks of the regular season propelled San Jose to 289.0 total yards of offense per game.

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Ranked as the number one scoring defense this season, the SaberCats held Arizona to under 30 points for the first time this season. The leading tackler in the AFL this season, Second Team All-Arena defensive back Ken Fontenette had eight tackles and broke up four passes.

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Roaming the middle of the box, David Hyland had 7.5 tackles two pass breakups and an interception of Nick Davila. Leading the league in total sacks, the San Jose pass rush was a disruptive force, totaling three sacks, led by Donte Paige-Moss with 1.5 sacks. Earning 2nd Team All-Arena Francis Maka had 0.5 sacks and blocked a kick, which was returned by Rodney Fritz in the second quarter.

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To reach the National Championship game, the SaberCats defeated the Portland Thunder in the quarterfinals of the AFL playoffs last week. Jumping out to a 35-7 lead, San Jose remained in control, answering on any attempt the Thunder had at a comeback.
First Team All-Arena receiver Reggie Gray, the AFL leader in receptions and total touchdowns this season, returned a 57-yard kickoff for a touchdown and added two more receiving scores while Maurice Purify led the SaberCats with seven receptions for 81 yards. In his sixth season with San Jose and a member of the 2007 Arena Bowl Champion SaberCats squad, Ben Nelson had 50 receiving yards, adding two touchdowns as well. With the elusive D.J. Stephens and “Superman” Odie Armstrong, the SaberCats offense, which led the AFL in scoring (58.9 points per game), has an array of talented weapons for the 2013 AFL MVP Meyer to unleash.
Meanwhile, the Rattlers advanced to the National Conference Championship game behind a 72-41 home victory over the Spokane Shock. Davila threw eight touchdown passes, including four to Rod Windsor, who hauled in nine receptions for 112 yards. Chase Deadder led the way for Arizona with nine receptions for 121 yards, adding three touchdowns.

Arizona was in first half battle with the Shock, holding a slight, 30-28 lead at halftime before outscoring the Shock 42-13 in the second half. Defensively, the Rattlers had interceptions by Jeremy Kellem and Ben Wells, while Marcus Pittman added a sack.

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With a win over the Rattlers, the SaberCats would host Arena Bowl XVIII at the SAP Center on Monday, August 31st for a chance at a team’s fourth championship. The winner of this game will face off against the winner of the American Conference Championship game between the Philadelphia Soul and the Jacksonville Sharks.

Game Preview Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

San Jose SaberCats Gray, Meyer, and Ranglin Earn 2015 All-Arena Offensive Team Honors

All photos by Shawn Jonas

Three San Jose SaberCats earned 2015 All-Arena Offensive Team honors the league announced today. Of the eighteen players honored, wide receiver Reggie Gray was named to the 1st Team All-Arena Offense after leading the AFL in total touchdowns (47) and receptions (162).

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Additionally, offensive lineman Rich Ranglin earned 2nd Team All-Arena honors, hauling in a career-high six touchdown receptions this season. Quarterback Erik Meyer also earned 2nd Team All-Arena honors throwing for 4,057 yards and 93 touchdowns with just six interceptions this season.

First Team All-Arena Offense
Second Team All-Arena Offense
QB Dan Raudabaugh, Philadelphia
FB Derrick Ross, Jacksonville
WR Reggie Gray, San Jose
WR Donovan Morgan, LA
WR Anthony Jones, Jacksonville
C Shannon Breen, Philadelphia
OL Moqut Ruffins, Jacksonville
OL Adam Smith, Philadelphia
K Tommy Frevert, Philadelphia
QB Erik Meyer, San Jose
FB Tommy Taggart, Philadelphia
WR Rod Windsor, Arizona
WR Joe Hills, Jacksonville
WR Marco Thomas, Philadelphia
C John Collins, Portland
OL Rich Ranglin, San Jose
OL Patrick Afif, Spokane
K Mark Lewis, Orlando

Press Release Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations