In a mild surprise, the Soul will go with youngster Juston Wood as tonight's starting quarterback against Chicago. It was a decision coach Bret Munsey made with plenty of input from his other players.
"It came down to who took more control of the huddle [in practice] and who the huddle was more comfortable with," Munsey said. "It's a tough decision, but Juston deserves the opportunity."
Wood, in just his second AFL season, started two games for New York last year. He replaced Tony Graziani when Graziani went down with a shoulder injury early in the second quarter of a 51-41 loss to Dallas on April 16. After starting with four touchdown passes, Wood threw three fourth-quarter interceptions.
The team signed NFL/AFL veteran Clint Stoerner on April 20 and started him 3 days later at Columbus. Philadelphia scored the second-fewest points in team history and suffered its third consecutive loss of the season, 44-21.
"We could see Stoerner if things don't go well for Juston," Munsey said. "Clint will be ready for us."
One guy who will not be in the huddle with Wood tonight is veteran receiver Sean Scott, who is out with a hamstring injury. Veteran center Mike Mabry is battling an ankle sprain, but Munsey said he will play. Munsey also had encouraging news regarding Graziani.
Initial indications were that Graziani could miss up to 6 weeks, but Munsey said he should return as soon as he's eligible to come off injured reserve. This would put him back on the field for the May 21 home game against New Orleans.
"We gotta get off this losing streak," Munsey said. "We gotta put these injuries behind us and get people healthy for the second-half of the season." *