San Diego Fleet quarterback Philip Nelson. Photo by Chris Stone

San Diego Fleet quarterback Philip Nelson will be out four-to-six weeks because of a fractured clavicle and Mike Bercovici will start Saturday’s Alliance of American Football game against the Salt Lake Stallions, coach Mike Martz said Monday.

“I think it’s time for Mike to start,” Martz said. “He’s been able to sit and watch some things happen with Phil and his development. Phil is a little further along in some aspects, like reading defenses, things of that nature. Mike was never asked to do it. And I think he’s really progressed a great deal.”

Bercovici has not played since the third quarter of the Fleet’s 15-6 loss in their season opener Feb. 9 against San Antonio.

Alex Ross replaced Nelson Saturday. He threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Baugh two plays after Nelson was injured to give the Fleet a 20-6 lead five minutes, 41 seconds before halftime. However, in nine full possessions under Ross, the Fleet were held to a field goal.

“Last week was a weird situation,” Martz said. “We didn’t know a whole lot about Alex, so we practiced him last week and he looked really good in practice and we thought, well, to keep him involved we’ll make him the No. 2 this week. And of course, Philip gets injured. That doesn’t reflect at all on Mike’s progress. We’re happy with Mike.”

Bercovici completed 15 of 25 passes for 176 yards in his only AAF action, had two passes intercepted and was sacked six times.

When Martz announced Feb. 9 that Nelson would start the team’s second game he said, “Mike’s just not ready. Mike going to be a real good player. Mike has not been in this kind of system, Phil has.”

Nelson was the starting quarterback for the Martz-coached Team National in the 2017 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl college football all-star game.

Nelson suffered the injury in the second quarter of Saturday’s 26-23 loss to the Memphis Express in Memphis.

“I’m frustrated with it because we’ve lost a player that I think will eventually be a starter in the National Football League,” Martz said. “His development was just skyrocketing. He was going to have a great year and when that happened, it was absolutely devastating.*

Including the Salt Lake game, the Fleet (2-2) have six games remaining in the regular season.

Nelson was placed on reserved/injured. To fulfill the league requirement that they have three quarterbacks on the active roster, the Fleet signed former Pennsylvania quarterback Alek Torgersen, who played three preseason games with the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, completing eight of 20 passes for 95 yards.

Torgersen was on the Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions practice squads in 2017.

Torgersen was selected by the Birmingham Iron with the next-to-last choice in the AAF QB Draft, but cut before the start of the regular season.

The Fleet also activated running back Bishop Sankey from reserved/injured Monday, placed cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah reserved/injured, cut running back Paul James and re-signed offensive lineman Brandon Hodges.

Sankey was Washington’s leading rusher in 2012 and 2013 and chosen in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans, the first running back selected. He rushed for 569 yards as a rookie in 2014 and 193 yards in 2015, his most recent NFL action.

Sankey was released by Tennessee in the final cut before the start of the 2016 season. He spent time with the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings in 2016, but did not get into a game.

Sankey tore an ACL in Minnesota’s opening game of the 2017 preseason and was sidelined the remainder of the season.

Adjei-Barimah had not played since fracturing a wrist in the opener.

James played in three of the Fleet’s four games with one carry for no yards.

Hodges was waived Feb. 12 to make room for fellow offensive lineman Gerrad Kough.

— City News Service

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