The Washington Valor didn’t start the season they wanted as the Baltimore Brigade beat them 59-51. Below are a few takeaways from Washington’s season opening loss.
Nelson’s Improvement: Arvell Nelson showed improvement with his arm in his first full season with the team. He was named the starter last season after former Arena League MVP Nick Davila went down with a season ending neck injury. Nelson started the game completing 9 of his first 11 throws for 167 yards and throwing a touchdown in each of the Valors first three drives. He was intercepted on the fourth drive by Baltimore’s Joe Powell. Nelson looked good and strong in the pocket, he didn’t look to run as much as he did last year either. Arvell went 27 for 41, 391 yards and 8 touchdowns with tied a career best. He also threw two interceptions.
Epps may be a star: Dezmon Epps couldn’t have had a better Arena League debut. He had a game high in yards, catches, and touchdowns on the night. The 5’9 rookie receiver out of The University of Idaho recorded 9 receptions for 201 receiving yards and four touchdowns in his first start. The 201 yards were a franchise record for the Valor and the four touchdowns tied a franchise record. He was able to repeatedly get behind the Baltimore defense for big plays. The shifty wideout operated out of the slot and will surely command more attention from opponents going forward.
Kicking struggles return: The Washington Valor went through three different kickers in their first season, that group made just 79% of their extra point attempts. Signing Patrick Clarke helped to change that as he made a league best 90% of his extra point attempts. Against Baltimore, Clarke missed his very first extra point attempt. He would continued to struggle by missing two of his next three attempts, finishing three of seven for the game. Last season he only missed six extra points, but he starts this season missing four in the loss to Baltimore. For the Valors sake, he needs to return to form sooner than later.