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The line, it is a'changin' 
By Brian Distelberg
  
    To hear certain folks -- okay, me -- tell it, "the Cobras would have to be pretty satisfied with their line play in 2000." 
   Well, seems like I was just a bit off base with that statement, from my preview of the 2000-01 free agency period.  In all, the Cobras signed 13 new linemen this offseason, shed three and re-signed five. 
   Taking a play from the playbook of the NFC Champion New York Giants, the Cobras went after veteran leadership on their line, with three free agent signees, Kelvin Ingram (Arizona), Rob Stanavitch (Los Angeles) and Webbie Burnett (Orlando), ready to step in and give the team an entirely-new set of starters. 
   The three have very different backgrounds.  Stanavitch, a six-year veteran and AFL journeyman, had 13 tackles and a sack last year for the Avengers.  Ingram, before spending the last two seasons in the desert, won an ArenaBowl ring with Orlando in 1998.  He had 11 tackles and a sack last season on a Rattlers line that emphasized pass protection, not pressuring the quarterback.  Burnett, finally, was a first team All-Arena lineman back in 1994, and re-signed with the Predators last season after being courted heavily by Los Angeles.  Though an injury cut short his season last year and he finished with only one tackle, he is the favorite going into camp to replace Jerry Sharp at center.  He brings the experience of playing in six ArenaBowls, including one in which Ingram was his teammate. 
   Also joining the team to battle for a spot is a flock of rookies from a whole variety of sources.  The cream of the crop is Silas Demary, an All-af2 selection in the AFL's minor league last year.  Demary led the af2 with 12 sacks and three safeties, and was named MVP of his team, the Norfolk Nighthawks.  Hoping to beef up -- literally -- the Cobras' line is Adrian Luster, a two-year starter on the defensive line for The Citadel who bench presses 610 pounds and has NFL camp experience.  Anthony Jenkins, a three-time All-Southern Conference selection at Western Carolina, had 14.5 sacks in his college career, and 73 tackles as a senior. 
   Other rookie additions are Jason Berger, Charles Dorsey, Chris Mintz and Harold Williams, along with UNC alum Allen Mogridge and N.C. State alum Lonnie Gilbert, both of whom are on the exempt roster while playing in the XFL. 
   Meanwhile, the Cobras retained the services of Hunter Adams, Tyrant Marion, Dary Myricks and Carl Reeves, some of their starters on the line last year, but lost leading sacker Brad Keeney to the XFL.
   [After this report was completed, Mogridge, Gilbert and Keeney were activated from the exempt roster.]
   Gone too is Sharp, the veteran leader of last year's line with the Quote-o-matic mouth, who was a free agent not re-signed by the team.
   What this all means is that, barring a training camp surprise, the entire starting unit for the Cobras will be different -- more seasoned and more skilled.  Behind them, last year's starters will be pushed strongly by some of this year's new signees, particularly Demary and Luster.  The improvement should pay huge dividends in all facets of the game: Fred McNair will have more time to throw, Marrio Grier will have more room to run and the defensive secondary will get help in the form of quarterback pressure. 
   Arena Football, for all its aerial acrobatics, is still a war in the trenches.  With new troops, the Cobras hope to win a lot more battles in 2001. 

THE BOTTOM LINE 


Best move: Backing up the talk about making changes by signing serious veterans and promising rookies  
Worst move: Failing to re-sign Sharp, who was valuable both on the field and as a team spokesman 
Keep your eye on: Luster, who's in training for some type of Strongest Man competition - seriously
NEW FACES:
WEBBIE BURNETT
Predfan/Jay Jageler 
AFL veteran Webbie Burnett is among three free agent signees on a revamped line.

OL/DL 
In
Kelvin Ingram (FA from Arizona), Rob Stanavitch (FA from Arizona), Webbie Burnett (FA from Orlando), Silas Demary (af2), Jason Berger (rookie), Charles Dorsey (rookie), Chris Mintz (rookie), Adrian Luster (rookie), Harold Williams (rookie), Anthony Jenkins (rookie)
Out
Jerry Sharp (FA not re-signed), Dwaine Robinson (cut), Emerson Martin (retired)
Still Here
Hunter Adams, Tyrant Marion, Dary Myricks, Carl Reeves 
Exempt
Lonnie Gilbert (XFL), Allen Mogridge (XFL), Brad Keeney (XFL)
Rating: B
  
Brian's Depth Chart 
OL/DL
1. Webbie Burnett
2. Kelvin Ingram
3. Rob Stanavitch
4. Hunter Adams
5. Tyrant Marion
6. Dary Myricks
7. Silas Demary
8. Adrian Luster
  
What do you think? 
Discuss the Cobras' situation at OL/DL in the Rating the Roster thread of the CZ Forum.