Ja’Quan Gardner made his debut at running back with the XFL’s Seattle Dragons this past weekend against the D.C. Defenders.
The Central Valley High School grad hadn’t played in an official football game in over 10 months due to a shoulder injury sustained last March with the Alliance of American Football League’s San Diego Fleet.
“It was fun to get back on the field,” Gardner said. “That’s the place I’m comfortable. There’s nothing compared to a live-game situation.”
Gardner and the Dragons lost 31-19 to the host D.C. Defenders in front of more than 17,000 fans on Saturday at Audi Field.
Gardner rushed for 36 yards on nine attempts.
Ja’Quan’s first carry, which was also the first offensive play of the 2020 XFL season, resulted in a 5-yard gain.
Gardner totaled 29 yards on six carries during the second half.
“I got more comfortable as the game went on,” he said. “Just getting an opportunity to play was amazing. It would have been even better if we won.”
Gardner split playing time with Kenneth Farrow and Tre Williams.
“We all did our part to try to help our team win the game,” Gardner said. “We all bring something different to the table. We all feed off each other and support each other. We have a great camaraderie. I feel we have one of the best backfields in the XFL. We’ll definitely be a fun group to watch this season. The fans saw a little bit of that last Saturday.”
According to ABC, the Seattle-D.C. game drew 3.3 million viewers.
“The league is off to a great start,” Gardner said. “We have to keep getting better. We got the whole season ahead of us. Our goal is to try to get to playoffs.”
Seattle’s home opener will be staged at CenturyLink Field this Saturday.
The Dragons will battle the Tampa Bay Vipers at 2 p.m.
“We’re playing where the Seahawks play,” Gardner said. “I heard they opened up extra sections because ticket sales were high.”