QB J.J. Raterink gets nod; Rush clinch playoff spot
BY SETH GRUEN Special to Sun-Times Media July 2, 2011 12:08AM
Updated: July 2, 2011 2:02AM
Recently signed quarterback J.J. Raterink got what he wanted, and the Rush got what it needed.
Raterink received coach Bob McMillen’s stamp of approval as the team’s starter in place of the injured Russ Michna, and the Rush
(11-4) clinched a playoff spot in the Arena Football League playoffs with a 59-35 victory against the Utah Blaze (7-8) on Friday at Allstate Arena.
After Michna went down with an ankle injury that will sideline him for at least eight weeks, Dominic Randolph performed with mixed reviews Sunday against the Iowa Barnstormers. Raterink had an up-and-down performance Friday, but he rallied the Rush in the second half, earning McMillen’s blessing to keep the job for the rest of the season.
“It’s not marriage, but yeah, I’m ready to commit to him,” McMillen said. “J.J. is a veteran in this league. I thought Dominic played well, but Dominic is still learning this game. Dominic is still surveying it like an outdoor game, and you’ve got a kid [J.J.] who is a veteran and knows the speed of the game.”
Raterink was signed only last week, and it showed early. He missed an open Reggie Gray three times in the first three series and turned the ball over on the third series. But he found his rhythm and finished the game 19-for-33 for 281 yards and four touchdowns.
“That’s maybe expected the first time out that you’re going to have some things to work on, some timing issues,” Raterink said. “Some guys break early or late, and we’ll definitely develop that cohesiveness as it goes along.”
The Rush defense continued to make its case as the AFL’s best despite losing its best player, defensive back Vic Hall, for four weeks with a lingering turf toe injury.
With the Blaze threatening to score on the Rush 2-yard line, jack linebacker Kelvin Morris intercepted a Tommy Grady pass. Morris has seven interceptions.
Defensive backs Perry Kyles and Jason Simpson also had interceptions, giving the Rush an AFL-record 48 takeaways.