Late in the third quarter of the Jacksonville Sharks’ 60-21 win over the Monterrey Steel, Tommy Grady suffered an ankle injury while dropping back to pass on 4th-and-11. He would leave the game and not return, and Damien Fleming led the team the rest of the way. On Saturday, the Sharks announced the injury was diagnosed as a lisfranc injury, and Grady will miss the rest of the season.
“This is my first real injury playing football at any level, first time I’ve missed a game,” Grady said. “I’m done for this season but I’ll be back next year. We have a lot of confidence in Damien and the guys around him. I’m staying positive about this and will work with Damien as much as I can to help us get a championship.”
Fleming led Jacksonville to 27 points against Monterrey, and completed 16 of 22 passes for 190 yards and three touchdowns and running for a fourth in a win against Columbus. Grady had already garnered Offensive Player of the Week honors earlier in the season, and threw for 1,060 yards and a league-leading 23 touchdowns in 4 1/2 games to start 2017. However, with Fleming as a dual-threat quarterback, the Sharks don’t expect to miss a beat.
“It helped me a lot playing in that game last week,” Fleming said after the game against the Lions. “It helped me get in a good rhythm for tonight. This week coming out, once I got the jitters out, I was OK. With these guys believing in me and with the great job done by the O-line, the receivers and the running back, it made my job a lot easier.”
For the second half of the season, it will be up to Fleming to continue his rhythm and gain valuable experience under center. Fortunately, Jacksonville has a bye week following their May 6 game against Corpus Christi before facing Monterrey at home. At 6-0, the Sharks hold a 1/2 game lead over Lehigh Valley Steelhawks for the best record in the NAL.