Force begin search for redemption
Georgia eyes more than just impressive regular season

FLOWERY BRANCH - For most Georgia Force players, practice ended early Tuesday.

On the team's first day of training camp, head coach Doug Plank ended its second session about 30 minutes before scheduled, but Chris Greisen didn't leave the field. As much of the team walked toward the locker room the record-setting quarterback took about 20 more minutes with some of his new receivers, running through short, deep and goal line routes.

"I am still kind of rusty and all that stuff," Greisen said. "I am trying to get some things in, to get solidified. Unfortunately, I was in a car wreck three weeks prior to camp, so I wasn't able to train as much.

"I was just trying to get some extra work in and get ready for March 1 against Dallas."

That season opening kickoff is less than a month away and will start the team's bid to defend its Southern Division Championship and its search for redemption from a home loss to the Columbus Destroyers that kept it out of the AFL championship game.

"It was a long offseason," Plank said. "It was disappointing because we really felt we could go to the championship game last year and win it."

The game against Dallas kicks off at 1 p.m. March 1 at the Force's home at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. The game will be televised by ABC. The team returns to Gwinnett after playing the past three seasons at Philips Arena in Atlanta.

But first up for the Force is training camp and a visit by the Orlando Predators for combined workouts starting Friday.

"We get a little look to see what we have here with the Force," said Greisen, who threw for an AFL record 117 touchdowns last season.

But neither Greisen nor Plank are concerned about the fast acclimation. From Tuesday morning to the afternoon, Plank said he saw improvements.

"I told them when we first met that, 'You were walking on the streets as a civilian just a few days ago and now we are going to ask you to put on a football uniform and go out there and run into other human beings,' which is difficult," Plank said. "These players are all mostly veteran players. Even the young players that we have, have all played in different situations, in college and other leagues. We don't have a lot of rookies on this team. We have people that are veteran football players, maybe not necessarily here in Georgia, but they bring with them football experience. We should be able to put the pieces together here very quickly."

There are still cuts to be made and shoes to fill. Of all the offseason losses, none was bigger than wide receiver Chris Jackson, who was second in the league in receiving yards on a team that finished 14-2 in the regular season. Jackson signed with the Philadelphia Soul as a free agent. But what started Tuesday was a chance to improve on the end result of that season.

"Yes, we want to be the best team we can in the regular season, but the bottom line in this league or any league is to go into the playoffs and have the determination and will power to win games, one at a time," Plank said. "With the players that we have out here, we have that character, we have the players that have the capacity to do that. The only reason that we are here is to be successful and win championships."