Troy Hambrick is best known for being a backup to NFL-great Emmitt Smith for both the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals. Now he's a member of the Utah Blaze.

Hambrick, 31, is one of nine free agents to sign in recent days with the Arena Football League franchise. Others include fullback/linebacker Rodney Filer (6-foot-3, 260 pounds), offensive lineman Tupe Peko (6-4, 310), wide receiver Anthony Brown (6-6, 230), defensive lineman Maurice Fountain (6-4, 270), linebacker Kelvin Morris (6-4, 245), wide receiver David Sutton (6-6, 225), defensive back Melvin Matlock (5-11, 195) and defensive back Terrance Sanders (5-10, 180).

Hambrick, a four-year NFL veteran, Filer, a 9-year AFL player, and Peko are the most experienced players in the group — although Hambrick is new to the AFL.

"These signings help add depth to key areas for us," said Blaze head coach and general manager Danny White. "From Hambrick and Filer to guys a few years out of college, it's a good balance of veterans and young talent. We are excited to bring in players that we feel will help us make a run at the championship in 2008."

Terms of the contracts were not disclosed due to team policy.

Hambrick had 473 carries for 1,896 yards and eight touchdowns during his NFL playing days. His best NFL season was 2003 when he rushed for 972 yards for the Cowboys. In 2004 he had 283 yards rushing on 63 carries with a touchdown for the Cardinals.

Filer has played with four other AFL teams — most recently the Tampa Bay Storm last season. He has 160 career rushes for 559 yards and 32 touchdowns on the ground with 40 catches for 362 yards and five scores in the passing game.

Peko spent the 2006 and 2007 seasons with the Las Vegas Gladiators. He also has four years of NFL experience. He played in 28 NFL games, including nine starts, for the Indianapolis Colts from 2002-04.

The signing of two tall receivers — Sutton and Brown, who are both 6-6 — marks a bit of a departure for the Blaze who have had mostly had smaller, faster players at that position. Last year's leading Blaze receiver — and the leading pass catcher in the entire AFL — was 5-10 Siaha Burley. He won't be back for the Blaze this season after signing a free agent contract with the Arizona Rattlers.

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