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Blaze receiving options have been tough to defend

Published June 22, 2012 10:59 pm

Arena football • Utah aiming for a win before bye week.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah Blaze receivers aren't going to intimidate opponents with their physical presence.

Aaron Lesue and Shaun Kauleinamoku each stand at a generously listed 5-foot-10 and weigh less than 200 pounds — runt status in pro football. While Tysson Poots has the stature at 6-foot-2, his most noticeable feature is his long blond hair, which has earned him nicknames from "Thor" to "Sunshine."

But when they start catching balls, teams start sweating: Who can they defend? No matter who they choose, they get burned.

"We all want to eat, but it's all about finding the open man — that's the offense," Kauleinamoku says. "We all know our roles, and Tommy [Grady] does a great job of getting us the ball. It doesn't matter who gets the most yards."

Many receiving corps can say it, but the Blaze — boasting the top-ranked passing offense in the Arena Football League — have the numbers to back up their words.

Both Kauleinamoku and Poots were brought in as backups, but they've each led the Blaze in receiving yards three times in the past six games. Lesue still leads the league in touchdowns with a whopping 47, even though he's led the team in that category only three times in the past six games.

The coaching staff has been pleased with the balance in the unit, which has helped Grady surge to 110 touchdowns so far this season, 21 more than any other passer in the league.

"I think it shows the kinds of guys we're getting to play these positions," coach Ron James says. "A lot of guys look for these cookie-cutter athletes. We look for guys who fit our system, and who have character."

Utah faces a tremendous opportunity this week against the Georgia Force to set a franchise record with 10 wins and inch closer to a playoff berth. The Force swapped out their starting quarterback, R.J. Archer, after he was signed by the Detroit Lions, and brought in another lineman to start.

The late changes could help the Blaze grab another early lead and a home win before heading into the bye week.

"We've got to do whatever we can to make plays," Poots says. "We want to dictate this game."

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon —

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