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New York Guardians open training camp in Houston

The New York Guardians joined the rest of their XFL brethren for training camp down south as February’s kickoff approaches.

New York’s newest football team has gone south for the winter.

The New York Guardians have descended upon Texas for their first training camp activities. Each of the XFL’s eight teams has commenced practices in the Lone Star State, preparation for the league’s inaugural kickoff weekend on February 8-9. The Guardians have set up base at Husky Stadium on the campus of Houston Baptist University.

Guardians’ practice began on Sunday. It was the team’s first official activity since minicamp at Superdome Sports in Waldwick, NJ wrapped up shortly before Christmas.

Rust was apparent, according to head coach Kevin Gilbride.

“I wanted to get them back to where we were in December,” Gilbride told the Guardians’ official website. “Historically, when you separate like we did the first time back is a little sloppy. And it was.”

Gilbride was particularly tense about the state of the offense. He joins the newly formed XFL after over two decades as an offensive coach in the NFL. That includes a two-year stint as a head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

“I think the enthusiasm was good particularly on the defensive side of the ball for the first day,” he said. “Offensively, I think the players recognize that we need to get better.”

The Guardians’ defense boasts several NFL alumni and plenty of collegiate accolades. Linebacker Ben Heeney earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2014 and later became a fifth-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders. Fellow linebacker Frank Ginda led the nation in tackles in 2017 at San Jose State.

New York’s social media account did document some of the offense’s brighter spots. Top pick from the XFL Draft DeAngelo Yancey made a one-handed catch, while Justice Liggins made a leaping catch during team drills.

The time in Texas will be spent adjusting to the XFL’s new rules and innovations. Teams are expected to engage in joint practices and exhibition games after the full rulebook is released on Tuesday afternoon.

New York will play its first regular-season game on Feb. 9 at MetLife Stadium against the Tampa Bay Vipers (2:00 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490