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SPORTS WEEKEND

Winless Avengers Seeking the Right Combinations

May 19, 2000|MIKE TERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The search for its first Arena Football League victory and the combination of players that will bring it about continues for the Avengers.

They are 0-5 going into tonight's game against the 1-3 Houston ThunderBears and the coaching staff's thinking has centered on the lack of speed at receiver.

So even though newcomers Travis Hannah and Shannon Culver signed only Tuesday, both are expected to get some playing time.

"Oh, yeah, they'll play," Coach Stan Brock said Thursday. "[Culver] has Arena experience and he understands the game. And [Hannah] is a very good wide receiver." Hannah, who played at Hawthorne High and USC, has NFL experience with the Houston Oilers, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers. He left the NFL in 1995, played in the NFL Europe last year at Frankfurt, Germany, and has continued to pursue a track career, with an eye toward the Olympics in the 400 meters.

"I want to bring some speed to the team," Hannah said. "They need someone to go deep. I'll do whatever I can to help them out. I've not played Arena ball, but football is football, as far as I'm concerned."

Culver, who played Arena football with Anaheim in 1997 and Grand Rapids in '98, also wants to give the Avengers more firepower.

"I want to be a team player," he said. "Make some things happen on offense; they've been lacking on the offensive side."

The quicker Hannah and Culver adapt, the less pressure there will be on Chris Jackson, the Avengers' top receiver and scorer. He has eight touchdowns.

Another part of the equation is Todd Marinovich, who will make his second start at quarterback.

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