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Saturday, May 30, 2015


Rookie QB Noah Picton looking downfield
Some notes from the second and final day of 2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders rookie camp at Mosaic Stadium:

- The sun was shining but the wind was howling on Thursday making the conditions fairly unpleasant for the Rider prospects on the field.  The wind was gusting to 56 km/h.  No one seemed to bother to count the number of hopefuls but let's peg it somewhere between 26 and 44.  I've heard both figures, and everything in between.

- It should be pointed out that there will be NO cuts after the workout and ALL players will be carried over to main training camp in Saskatoon which begins Sunday morning.

- One position we'll be keenly watching at training camp is at centre, whatwith the off-season departure of veteran Dominic Picard to Winnipeg.  U of S Huskies product #63 Brad Nehring got a lot of work there on Thursday.  The top two players on the main depth chart at that position are veterans Corey Watman and Dan Clark.  Right now it seems to be a wide open competition.

- I didn't pay too close of attention to Rams product OL #54 Kyle Patterson out of Weyburn but I'll be sure to zero in on his play in Saskatoon.

- We'd mentioned in prior write-ups that there were two kickers in rookie camp - including the Huskies' Denton Kolodzinksi - but don't forget CFL veteran Hugh O'Neill was signed in the off-season and he's been getting plenty of work in before the rookie camp sessions.  He's a placekicker by trade, and will provide stiff competition for incumbent Chris Milo.

- Corey Chamblin noted in his post-workout media scrum that a lot of the players on defense look similar, just a jumble of numbers.  However they all possess one eye-popping trait: speed.  Early on, and perhaps even late in the season, this team's identity will come from its defense.

- Franchise star Darian Durant had no problem with that assessment when he joined us live on the SportsCage Thursday afternoon.  He feels it will be rare to see the Rider defense give up three touchdowns in a game and says that'll greatly take the pressure off the offense.

- Defenders #91 Brandon Tennant (Laval) and #92 Tim Agbaje (Saskatchewan) were consistently in the quarterbacks' faces during the team sessions.

- Rookie receiver #86 Devin Wilson (Tennessee State), who was recently signed - had me looking at my roster several times for his name.  He seems taller than the 6'2" he's listed at, and seems to be an inviting target.

- So too will be 6'3" receiver Jamel Richardson - who obviously didn't participate in the rookie camp - and his injury status is still unknown (at least to us observers).  Durant noted that "J-Rich" will arrive in town this weekend and at that time, we'll learn whether he's healthy enough to participate in camp.  At this point, Darian isn't sure how his leg is.  It kept him out of the Florida minicamp however he participated in one walk-through in Florida.

- Running back #32 - the roster says he's Kwame Adjei (Mt. Allison) - had me checking my roster as well, ripping off one long run but remember they're playing touch football out there.

- Outside linebacker #48 Eltoro Freeman (Auburn) is a guy whom you'll hear a lot of in the next couple weeks.  He won a BCS championship at Auburn and had a cup of coffee with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 but has been out of football since.  However he plans on replacing Brian Peters - who departed for the NFL's Minnesota Vikings this winter - and that's the position formerly patrolled by Craig Butler, Reggie Hunt and George White in the past.  Freeman's first name translates from Spanish to "The Bull" and he has the attitude to match.  Chamblin said Thursday "there's something about him" and he could soon find himself at the top of the depth chart.  Freeman had a hamstring problem which limited his effectiveness in the Florida minicamp but the coaches thought enough of him to bring him to Regina.

Veteran QBs Kevin Glenn, Darian Durant and Tino Sunseri look over Picton's shoulder
- I asked Durant about the competition at the back-up quarterback position.  He said they all get along well, as you can see by the photo.  Who knows who will be the #2 man behind Durant when the season opens?  CFL people tell me to expect Glenn to replace Durant when the situation arises this year but you have to think Sunseri didn't re-sign here to be #3.  Soon the situation will sort itself out.

- Noah Picton said he felt he had a far better Day 2 than Day 1.  He made some impressive plays, finding Preston Bews underneath while escaping pressure.  It drew a big whoop from the offense and illicited high-fives.

- Quarterback Brett Smith - who spent part of 2014 with the Argonauts - will likely have to really sparkle in Saskatoon to stick with the team as the fourth guy.  He seems to have a penchant for holding onto the ball for an extremely long time.  However when he unleashed the gun on Thursday, right on the numbers of #82, he dropped it.  #82 is Naaman Roosevelt.

- Happy 38th birthday today to Corey Chamblin.

- Interestingly, over in Winnipeg the Blue Bombers finally got around to signing Regina's Addison Richards and it was announced Thursday.  There may have been some mild contract negotiation there rather than the standard rookie contract draftees used to get.  Addison's had a good rookie camp, we're told, and couldn't be more thrilled to be joining the Blue Bombers.  Perhaps it's a good thing for him to spread his wings elsewhere.  Bomber coach Mike O'Shea said he'd prefer to not compare Richards to Andy Fantuz or Jason Clermont, saying he's already faster than both.

- In Calgary, the Stampeders signed OL Aaron Picton of Regina on Thursday, a member of their 2015 draft class.  THE PICTONS ARE TAKING OVER THE CFL.

- Luc Mullinder and I will be broadcasting Four Seasons Football Friday live from Currie Field today in advance of the Regina Red Sox 2015 home-opener against Weyburn.  Come on out to the ballpark tonight and support your baseball team!  First pitch is 7:05 pm.


That's all for this report!  The next one will be from Saskatoon...



Anonymous said...

Thanks Rod,

Awesome report! That should shut up the whiners from yesterday.

Looking forward to main camp reports from toon-town.

Go Riders!!!

Dick Rubnutz said...

Kwame Adjei is a DB and he was primarily at Safety over the past 2 days. Not sure who #32 in white lining up at RB was.

Thanks for the write up and enjoy Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

Great report Rod. Much appreciated.

Open the choke and pull the cord. Can't wait to get this started!

Anonymous said...

To RP,

You mentioned "However they all possess one eye-popping trait: speed".

Yes that may very well be, as a Cory Chamblin defence and the players recruited likely must have that trait. However one thing to keep in mind is that the impression you had was based on the first two days of camp. I am sure you will recall from previous years, or that any coach will tell you, the offence always looks slow at first as they are trying to get the schemes down, while the defence is reacting in the only way possible (speed and aggression).

Give it a couple of weeks and the offence will catch up; the defence will not appear as fast.

Also, and I don't mean to challenge you as I do appreciate your column, but you mentioned the possibility of the Riders not giving up more than 15 points per game - to that I hope you are right, but I will suggest the following (with regard rule changes):

1) No contact on the receivers after 5 yards is seriously going to open up the defences and result in a higher scoring game; and

2) The changes to the punt return game, especially that the kicking front five can not run down until the ball is kicked, is going to result in a wide open punt return game. The idea is that more points will be scored across the board in all CFL games.

Just my thoughts...

Kel in Victoria

Anonymous said...

Don't care if the d allows 50 points as long as the riders get 51

Anonymous said...

To Anon #5 "Don't care...."

I think most would agree with your analogy whereby if the opposing team scores 50, as long as the Riders score 51 is a good thing, but I fail to see how you have added anything substantive to the discussion.

Remember, anyone can throw out a simplistic comment, but maybe you could put a little more thought and effort into your comment. Maybe next time, someone will actually respect what you have to say.

Also, maybe provide a name so people can respond directly to your comment

Just sayin'...


Anonymous said...

Mind your own business out of province wanna be know it all.

Anonymous said...

Sticks and stones ....

Old Hank

Anonymous said...

Anon #7:'re what, 12? The Riders are "Canadas' team". Grow up.

Anonymous said...

Kel makes way too much sense for the wing nuts that frequent this blog. A well thought out opinion is going to be met with stupidity.
Your comments are welcome Kel


Anonymous said...

I didn't know that blog moderator was in Kelowna. Also didn't know about the free advice from Kel. Keep it to yourself as it also adds nothing to the conversation. Your comments are just as simplistic only more of them. A numerical scheme does not make comments anymore insightful or relevant.

If a sports blog is where you get insightful analysis you need to invite some friends over, speak more to or find a significant other, any family that you can visit?

When reading comments take them literally if that is all you can do but leave it to others to read the discussion to enjoy the context and meaning behind the comment. Get your social group to explain it to you.

I don't think this is the first time someone has told you to mind your own business. A group of us are flying into Saskatoon Monday to spend sometime in the city and to watch TC. We need not bother Kel with our simplistic comments here, he can provide insightful analysis from afar. Enjoy

Just Saying

Anonymous said...

Keep em coming Kel, don't let the idiots discourage you.