The Quad-City Steamwheelers have been in the market for another pass rusher ever since Kewan Alfred was forced to leave the team because of a family emergency.
That monthlong search ended in the best way possible this weekend, with last year's all-conference defensive end calling the team Thursday about a return.
Placed on the refused-to-report list March 18 to reserve his rights, Alfred has been activated prior to his arrival back in town in the next week.
That move starts the clock on a two-week wait for the fourth-year pro to play again, according to Indoor Football League rules governing use of the RTR list.
"He can't play yet, but he'll be coming back. It's definitely good news," Q-C coach Cory Ross said Friday.
"He keeps himself in such great shape, I'm not worried about the effects of a month layoff for him. When the rules allow him to suit up, he'll be ready to go. It's just good to know he'll be back here playing soon."
The Wheelers (2-4) have not won since Alfred's hasty exit, dropping three straight heading into tonight's game at the TaxSlayer Center against the expansion Tucson Sugar Skulls (3-3).
Alfred has a sack and fumble recovery so far this season after earning all-conference honors for the Wheelers last season in another circuit, Champions Indoor Football. The native Texan had 12 tackles-for-loss, 3.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries a year ago.
"Kewan's very physical and one of those prolific pass rushers you hate to see across from you. So having him back really helps our defense," Ross said.
"We've really missed him the last month. Robert Jones has done a great job and learned a lot from Kewan. We feel good about him, (Howard) Stephens and (Jeffery) Bradley up front, but this just gives us another strong guy at the point of contact and a fresh set of legs to throw at people."
Ross wishes Alfred was available tonight, especially with the team forced to place nose guard Anthony Pruitt on short-term injured reserve on Thursday.
"We're a little short up front this weekend, but we've been able to suit an extra lineman so if something did happen up front, we're covered," Ross said.
"We have some offensive guys that can help us. If we need somebody to come over, Darius Crosby does a good job playing the nose. All of those (offensive) guys have great movement if we need somebody there. But with Jones, Stephens and Bradley up front, we should be OK. We'll see how the game goes as far as who lines up where."
Jones, a Rock Island native who played running back at both Davenport North and Assumption but never played college football and converted to defensive end late last season for the Wheelers, shares second in the IFL in sacks (4) and is third in tackles-for-loss (8).
Stephens and Bradley each have a TFL since joining the Wheelers last month.
Q-C boasts the league's top-ranked rushing defense (55.8 yards-per-game), but has been second-worst against the pass (163.5).
Tucson's offense leads the league in total yards (275.7), which includes 105.2 per game on the ground, third-best in the 10-team league.
"We just need to make sure we're doing things right in the secondary, so we can get some stops," said Ross, whose defense this week added former Indiana defensive back Antonio Marshall. "If we get a few turnovers, we'll be in good position because we can score, too."