Graziani's return from injury could give reeling Soul a boost

The Soul have lost six straight games, gone through four quarterbacks and sustained numerous injuries. So they could use a little bit of sunshine.

The Soul (4-6) may find a boost if starting quarterback Tony Graziani returns for Monday's Arena Football League game at the Wachovia Center against the New Orleans VooDoo (4-6).

Graziani is eligible to play after sitting out four games on the injured reserve with a left shoulder injury. He said after his first full practice yesterday that he is "50-50" to play this week.

Graziani realizes the Soul need to turn things around quickly, and he does not mind shouldering the pressure to do so when he returns.

"The pressure is always on the quarterback," he said. "I'm looking forward to it. . . . I love it. I'm a quarterback for a reason. I love the pressure on me. Let's go."

Yesterday's practice went better than Graziani expected. After throwing earlier in the week, he was in significant pain.

"It's very encouraging," he said. "It didn't hurt as much and didn't ache as much or feel like it was going to pull out of the socket every time I threw."

If Graziani is unable to play, the Soul will use Leon Murray. In Monday's game, Murray filled in for Juston Wood, who went down with a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee in the third quarter against the Dragons.

The Soul would look into bringing in another player as a backup in that case.

Coach Bret Munsey said the Soul cannot wait for Graziani to save them. He said yesterday's practice was one of the Soul's best practices after they failed to execute offensively, defensively and on special teams in Monday's 69-49 loss to the New York Dragons.

"We need to find a way to win," Munsey said. "Somehow, we've got to get out of that feeling. It comes with our leaders getting back in the lineup. . . . One win would cure a lot of things."

The Soul's season, much like New Orleans', could go either way with six games left on the schedule.

The Soul started out on fire, winning their first four games. Graziani said he reminds the other players that they are the same team.

"We came out of the gates with swagger and confidence and cockiness," he said. "We need to get that back. We're the same guys. We're the same team. We just need to start making plays."

Receiver-linebacker Sean Scott is still out with a hamstring injury.

The Soul also hope that wide receiver Larry Brackins (hamstring) and defensive back Brian Mance (torso) will be able to return on Monday.

"We're starting to get healthy, and it's a good time to," Graziani said.


Contact staff writer Shannon Ryan at 215-854-5503 or sryan@phillynews.com.