Week 1 Preview: Cobras vs. Empire

by DJ Wagner

Start Where We Finished


Starting Where We Finished:  Albany was where the 2021 Cobras season ended in the playoffs against the Empire with a 55-41 loss for the Cobras.  You can count that this date was circled on the calendar when the schedule was finalized by the Cobras.

Times Have Changed, IRONMAN!:  The new wrinkle is going to change how the NAL is played, by going old school with Ironman rules similar to those of the original AFL.  The Cobras staff have definitely taken that into mind when putting this year’s roster together.  There is a lot of versatility on the roster, and that is certainly going to help the Cobras going into the 2022 season.

Speaking of Roster:  There are a lot of familiar names on the 2022 Carolina Cobras, that may not have been with the team in 2021, or ever before.  All starts with QB Jonathan Bane who will be leading the team under center.  Kendrick Ings returns at WR, he was second in the NAL in 2021 in TDs, but wait, there’s more, add in former Predators WR DJ Myers, and now we have two of the top three receivers in TDs from 2021.  The addition of two-time All-NAL Center Derrick Zeigler will shore up the offensive line. Joe Powell, Micheaux Robinson are stars in the defensive backfield, and when it comes to a line, the return of Walter Thomas and Micah Robinson, as well as the addition of All-NAL LB/FB Zack Brown and All-NAL JLB Trevon Shorts, the front five are going to be dangerous.  So much talent on this 2022 Carolina Cobras roster, should be exciting to see it come together on the field!

On Paper vs On Field:  As you can tell on paper, this team is really strong with talent, and Head Coach Resignalo built it with Ironman rules in mind, now it will be a matter of both how the players execute on the field, as well as how they gel off the field.  Over the course of training camp, you could see the team coming together, the vets were helping the rookies, and the vets were also helping fellow vets.  While there is going to be a learning curve for the players with the Ironman Rules, this team is together to make that happen.

Coaching Changes:  Cobra fans are going to be very happy to see the changes that have been made on the coaching staff this offseason.  From bringing in former Jacksonville Sharks Head Coach James Fuller to take over as Offensive Coordinator, and former two-time All-NAL DB Mike Green as DB Coach, with the return of Anson Yarborough as Defensive Coordinator, one thing all three have in common, small details.  Class was in session during camp, and you could see the players soaking it in.

Albany Revamped:  Albany is the defending NAL Champions, but a lot has changed for the Empire in the offseason.  Of the nine players last year who were All-NAL for the Empire, only two return, of course one is the leading WR in the NAL last year Darius Prince, and also First Team DB Kenneth McGruder, the other seven have either changed teams or left the league, but the Empire were quick to reload, with another familiar face in the NAL as Mike Fafaul will be taking over as the starting QB.  They will be a formidable opponent to start the season for the Cobras on the road.

History:  Empire Lead Series 3-0

Last Game:  Empire beat Carolina 55-41 in the 2021 NAL Playoffs