Future looks bright with Stevens' performance

Monday, May 21, 2001 at 1:00am

Nashville Kats fans did more than watch a victory. They got a glimpse of the future.

And based on the performance of wide receiver-linebacker L.C. Stevens, the future is a bright one. Stevenson made his first appearance since injuring his shoulder in the regular season opener with Orlando. He had three catches for 37 yards, one touchdown, two tackles and two pass breakups in the Kats 64-27 rout of the tailspinning Los Angeles Avengers. The Kats, 4-2, travel to Bismarck, N.D., Friday night to face the Houston Thunderbears. The Avengers, who beat the Kats in a preseason game, fell to 0-5.

Quarterback Andy Kelly earned most valuable player honors in the game completing 14-of-27 attempts for 198 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. He admitted it was a big advantage to have Stevens back in the lineup.

"It's always great to get anybody back who has been injured that you feel like is going to help your team," said Kelly, who did not have a touchdown pass in the 34-30 loss to Orlando two weeks ago. "L.C. is one of those guys. He is a big target.

"It was a pretty good effort all around on both sides of the ball and on special teams. We just have to find out a way to maintain that."

Stevens, a former North Carolina star, was signed to fill the vacancy left when Cory Fleming went down with a broken ankle in preseason that has him sidelined for at least another month. Comparisons between the two are inevitable.

"They are very similar," said veteran Darryl Hammond, who earned Ironman of the Game. "L.C. is a little taller. He is physical, but Cory is a little more physical. They both have really good hands. It's a tough comparison because they are pretty much the same type of ballplayer.

"L.C. was highly-touted in college. He is going to be really good. He is the future."

Stevens was signed as a free agent after a brief stint with the New Orleans Saints. He comes from basketball country and Hammond thinks that Stevens' hoops background pays dividends on the football field. Stevens

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