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XFL Week 5 Players of Week

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Written by: Roy Countryman @PreacherBoyRoy

Offensive Player of the Week

Abram Smith: RB, DC Defenders

23 carries for 218 rush yds, 9.5 avg, 70 Long, 3 rush TD, 1 catch for -3 rec. yds.

Smith put on a show in the slugfest matchup with the St. Louis Battlehawks by running over and through their defenders en route to the first 200 rushing yard performance in the XFL this year.

Smith signed with the New Orleans Saints after going undrafted last year out of Baylor. After getting released in final cuts, he decided to take his talents to the XFL, with the honor of being the first overall pick in the Skill Players portion of the XFL Draft.

During his time at Baylor, he had a very interesting career, as he flashed quite a few times early in his career. Then he transitioned to linebacker for the 2020 season due to his physical playing demeanor and due to the positional need of the team. He then transitioned back to toting the rock for his final season, where he broke the Baylor single season rushing record with 1,601 rush yards.

What you see when Smith toting the rock is a hard-nosed, one-cut runner who runs through contact with terrific balance. Has a good feel for cutting runs backside and gain chunk yardage. Allows his blocks to develop, and then accelerates to top speed quickly. Is stout in pass protection. With his physicality, he has lots of experience on coverage teams.

With the way Smith has played this year, he will likely be one of the first players signed to an NFL contract after the end of the season, and could be on a similar track to another spring league back D’Ernest Johnson, who has carved out a nice NFL career.

Defensive Player of the Week

Pita Taumoepenu: EDGE, Vegas Vipers

5 Total Tackles (4 Solo), 3.0 sack, 4 TFL, 1 FF.

Taumoepenu was dominant in the first win of the Vipers over the Orlando Guardians. He wreaked havoc on the Guardians tackles with a myriad of moves and tenacity.

Originally, he was drafted out of Utah by the 49ers in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He stuck around the NFL through 2021 with stops with the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, and Denver Broncos, until he was drafted in the XFL Draft.

On film, Taumoepenu stands at stout 6-1 with solid bulk. He possesses an advanced feel and plan on how to attack offensive tackles hands and balance with a myriad of moves. Has experience playing in both two and three point stances, and flashes impressive first step quickness. Is not just a one-move pass rusher, and will continually fight through engagement to try and bring down QBs. Hunts for the ball when cornering the quarterback, and has a knack for causing forced fumbles. Needs to add a little more weight and lower body strength to impact rushing downs.

Taumoepenu needs to build off this eye-popping performance, and if he can do so, he will likely get some looks from 3-4 based teams looking for OLB depth in the NFL.

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