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Monday, June 1, 2015



1 - THE CONDITIONS:  2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp opened Sunday here in Saskatoon amid 23 degree Celsius temperatures and 35 km/h winds out of the southeast.  The club held an hour long walk-through for their morning session and a roughly two hour practice (no pads) in the afternoon.

2 - HAPPY NEW YEAR:   There were smiles all around as the full club got together for the first time since the conclusion of the 2014 campaign.  There was a lot of back-slapping with the new season upon us. The Roughriders' American scouts are in attendance too, including Ron Salesky and Ted Montgomery.

3 - CAMP FACTS:  The tallest player in camp is a tie between REC Evan Turkenton, OT Levy Adcock and DL Ryan Wellman (6'6") while the smallest are REC Weston Dressler and RB Steven Miller (5'7").  The heaviest player is OG Gord Hinse (320 lbs) while the lightest is QB Noah Picton (165 lbs).  Picton is listed as 5'9".  The Riders say 91 players are in camp.

4 - DARIAN'S BACK-UP:   I've been saying all spring that one of the most interesting battles in training camp and the preseason will be who's the #2 quarterback behind Darian Durant: Kevin Glenn or Tino Sunseri?  Based on the reps on Sunday, Glenn is the clearcut #2.  However no one else seems too concerned.

"I don't see a need to be concerned about the pecking order," offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine said Sunday.  "Certainly we understand Darian is our #1 guy.  We understand he needs to get the work with the starters and Kevin understands what his role is."

5 - DOUBLE D IN THE GROOVE:   As far as Durant and the offense goes, there's considerable rust that needs to be knocked off however it was only Day 1.  There were some passes in the dirt and a few others that sailed away (from all quarterbacks), and perhaps the wind affected that too.

"I feel good," Durant smiled.  "Nothing's changed since Florida.  If anything, I think I've gotten stronger.  The elbow feels a little bit better.  I'm just anxious to get out here this afternoon and put it to work.  Especially in this wind."

Sunday's afternoon workout was sloppy and not at all fast.  However remember it was Day 5 last year when Chamblin blasted the group, labelling them an "average football team".  They then went on to start the year 8-2.

6 - DAY 1 OBSERVATIONS:  Roughly 100 fans turned out for the morning walk-through and although there wasn't much action, the fans seemed generally enthused to see their beloved players once again.  However the stands were 90% full for the afternoon session.

- Veteran centre Dan Clark worked with the first group on the offensive line on Day 1.  He appeared to do a great job and will benefit from the tutelage of guest coach Angus Reid who was a brawler and a battler during his CFL career with the B.C. Lions.  Former first round pick Corey Watman will have other ideas however, and he was nothing short of ferocious in one-on-ones.  Never mind a penalty - he could've been charged with assault.  I was actually surprised a fight didn't break out.

- The first injury was #42 linebacker Phillip Steward (Houston) who left the field with medical staff however returned later in the workout.

- It's no surprise who the first group of receivers was: Bagg-Getzlaf-Dressler-Richardson-T. Smith and the running back was Jerome Messam.  Although head coach Corey Chamblin said after the morning workout that he expects Jamel Richardson to participate at full speed, he moved gingerly in the afternoon.  He's recovering from a leg injury which has kept him out since 2013 but perhaps it's more mental than physical.

- There's certainly an adequate stable of receivers to fill in if Richardson can't go.  The second group included Alex Pierczalski, Alex Anthony, Ryan Smith, Devin Wilson and Korey Williams with the tailback being Anthony Allen.  Alex Anthony had a nice day, even if he didn't have a lot of balls thrown his way.  He certainly seemed to have his placing down pat.

- The third group of ball-catchers included Greg Hardin, Naaman Roosevelt, Scott McHenry, Nic Demski and Alex Carroll.  Roosevelt made some nice grabs while Demski was victimized by a glaring drop.  Roosevelt ran the wrong route on one play, looking back at Darian Durant and smacking himself on the helmet with both hands.

- The fourth group included Melvin Abankwah, Roosevelt, Preston Bews, Eric Thomas and Ryan Smith.  The first turnover of the day was a forced fumble from Eric Thomas by DB Marshay Green.

- Veteran defensive tackle Tearrius George cut into the backfield like a hot knife through butter in drills.  He seems ready to pick up where he left off from his 2014 All-Star campaign.  This looks too easy for him.

- 2015 draft pick Rory Connop - son of Eskimos legend Rod Connop - saw some work with the 1's on the interior of the defensive line.

- The Riders should lead the CFL in sacks again in 2015.  With the likes of John Chick, T. George and Alex Hall, CFL offensive linemen will be seeing them in their nightmares.  Hall, who led the CFL in sacks in 2013, spent last year with the NFL's Carolina Panthers and was an unheralded addition by the Green & White this off-season.

"That's what everybody's said!" Hall laughed.  "That's all I've been getting the whole time, that it's a surprise.  I've always been a bit of an under-the-radar guy.  You never know when I might pop up."

That includes in QBs' faces.  Incidentally, Hall has changed his number from 99 to 0.

- Newly-signed CFL veteran defensive lineman #94 Cameron Sheffield joined the team on Sunday and saw some good work with the first unit.  He played in 10 games with the Eskimos last year.

Kevin Glenn follows a pass
- Illinois State product Kevin Glenn is back for a 15th CFL training camp after originally joining the Roughriders in 2001 as a Roy Shivers' find.  In the time since, he's worked his way into the Top 10 of all-time CFL passing leaders.  He's also become a restaurateur in that time, but prefers to prolong his pro football career for as long as possible.  There's plenty of time to run his Tim Hortons.  As usual, Kevin showed poise on Sunday and was calm, cool and collected.  He can effortlessly still zing the ball 40 yards downfield with a flick of the wrist.  It's great to have him back in Green & White and again, should something happen to Darian Durant, it appears he'll be the first tapped to go in.

- Quarterback apprentice Noah Picton saw limited reps but in his first pass attempt in half-skelly, it was intercepted by #30 Jeremy Gray (North Carolina).

- There's a job open at outside linebacker with the departure of Brian Peters to the NFL and newcomers Eltoro Freeman (Auburn) and Telvion Clark (Towson) saw work with the 1's.  Freeman is very vocal, an onfield leader, and isn't afraid to ask questions of his coaches.  He'll be heard from before all is said and done.  Chamblin said Freeman's a guy who "can play linebacker but runs like a safety."

- Luc Mullinder and I watched most of the afternoon workout from the press box and during punting situations, we continually heard loud "Oooos and ahhhs" from the crowd.  We wondered what the heck they were cheering but it was the booming punts by kicker Ray Early who was officially signed on Sunday.  They were routinely 50-plus yards, aided by the wind.

- Newcomer Hugh O'Neill, a CFL veteran and placekicking specialist, boomed his first punt out of bounds and was victimized by the strong winds once they flipped directions.  One has to wonder where he'll fit in when all is said and done.

#17 Hugh O'Neill, amidst kickers Denton Kolodzinksi and Ray Early
- The Riders have an embarrassment of riches in terms of punt returners.  There was a large group back there including Weston Dressler, Alex Carroll, Melvin Abankwah, Tristan Jackson, Ryan Smith, Steven Miller and Korey Williams.

- I mentioned after the rookie camp that the speed of the defensive backs was abundantly evident.  That increased on Sunday when the veterans got onto the field, knowing the proper angles to take on the wide field.  And they didn't take too kindly to watching from the sidelines while the rookies got reps.  "Hey I need some work!" Macho Harris bellowed to secondary coach Tony Missick.  2014 Rider interceptions leader Mark Legree chimed in with, "Ya I need to eat!"

- Canadians Keenan McDougall and Matt Webster saw some work in the secondary.  Webster seems to be a little more limber.

- New defensive coordinator Greg Quick is doing plenty of coaching in his Foghorn Leghorn style.  "DON'T grab his jersey!" Quick yelled to the defenders. "Did I stutter?"

- At the conclusion of the workout with the team gathered at midfield, Chamblin was overheard telling the players to "LEARN YOUR PLAYBOOK!" and to "GET YOUR A$$ MOVING!"

- Great move by the Riders to have their players sign autographs along the fence after the afternoon practice.

- The Riders will be back on the field Monday morning at 8:30 am for a two hour workout.

- And a big THANK YOU to Darren Dupont of DupontMedia for the new Monday Morning Goalie logo!


7 - THE REAPER IS BACK:  Although not with the Roughriders.  2014 Plaza of Honor inductee Reggie "The Reaper" Hunt was named as a guest coach at Calgary Stampeders training camp on Sunday.  Reggie's been coaching high school football in his hometown of Denison, Texas, just outside Dallas.  Rider fans reacted on social media that they're happy Reggie's back in Canada, but bemoaned the fact he's not in Saskatchewan.

8 - ROUGHRIDER COVERAGE:  Former Rider defensive lineman Luc Mullinder is with me in Saskatoon and we'll be broadcasting the SportsCage live on 620 CKRM each day at 4:00 pm from training camp from the press box ... In The Huddle on Access 7 will air its season premiere episode NEXT Tuesday, on June 9 from Griffith's Stadium at 7:00 pm.

9 - WHERE LIFE MAKES SENSE:  Forget about Swift Current!  Davidson, Saskatchewan is where life makes sense.  On the very early morning drive to Saskatoon Sunday from Regina, I stopped at a gas station in Davidson for a coffee.  It was a wonderful trip back into the 1980s, with a gray haired lady at the till named Betty.  She had Elvis Presley on the stereo and six full cannisters of strong, steaming java.  Add to that a stunning selection of ball caps and a rack of nudie magazines that would make a trucker blush, and it made for a wonderful pitstop into rural Canadiana.

10 - HOCKEY TALK:  Congratulations to the Oshawa Generals, champions of the 2015 Memorial Cup. They can change the name of Oshawa to "Title Town" given the fact they boast a CHL-best five Memorial Cup titles.  They beat Kelowna 2-1 in overtime Sunday evening in Quebec City.  What a crushing way for the Rockets to lose! ...  It was nice to see the stands almost full at Le Colisee after attendance concerns during the week ... Next year's going to be infinitely exciting in Red Deer.  Hopefully the host Rebels or the WHL champion will bring the trophy back to reside in the west.  However I don't ever recall the Memorial Cup running into Rider training camp like it did this year.  It certainly did not in 2013 in Saskatoon.  Why did it run so late? ... The Regina Pats wrapped up 2015 spring camp on Sunday.  One can only imagine the possibilities the 2015-16 season has in store for the Queen City Kids when you consider the fact John Paddock was only hired on August 7 of last year.  He performed magic last year when being rushed and wound up being WHL Coach of the Year.  What can he do with an entire spring and summer to plan? ... The Stanley Cup final begins Wednesday with Chicago taking on Tampa Bay.  It's tough to find a rooting interest however there is a pair of Saskatchewanians on the Lightning in Braydon Cobourn (Shaunovan) and Brendan Morrow (Carlyle).  Generally however, Saskatchewan sports fans have turned their attention to the Roughriders and that suits me just fine.



Instagram: ridervoice


Dick Rubnutz said...

Great write up Roddy. Much appreciated from us in Regina that aren't able to attend camp.

Anonymous said...


The Monday Morning Goalie was beyond outstanding!! Great Day 1 camp update and I really liked the addition of information from Edmonton, Calgary and BC. Thanks for continuing to keep us informed!!


Anonymous said...

Just a fantastic read for us back in Regina that can't attend camp

Anonymous said...

Good stuff Rod. Ignore the stupid comments that are sure to show up. Thanks again for keeping those of us that live outside Saskatchewan informed.

Anonymous said...

Going old school by taking shots at Swift Current. Love it! We still love you in swifty Roddy.

Anonymous said...

Great handle!

Anonymous said...

The Riders are in bad shape if Kevin Glenn is the answer. I think that if Rob Bagg had caught that 50 yard gimmee from Tino Sunceri last year that the Riders wouldn't even have signed Glenn because George Cortez would have treated Tino like a QB instead of like a leper. In spite of having a OC that refused to adjust Tino is in the CFL record book as the only QB in history to engineer four consecutive 2-point conversions.

Anonymous said...

any one know why Cameron Sheffield is not with/left the ESKs.

Rod Pedersen said...

Not a shot at SC! Don't be so sensitive.

Anonymous said...

Great read this AM!


Anonymous said...

Hey Pedersen, you suck!!

Just kidding, great column today. Much appreciate the reports. How's the new hotel accommodations?

Gundersons Yorkton
Where good things happen

Rod Pedersen said...

I'll get into the hotel, etc. accomodations tomorrow. Gotta spread this stuff out...

Anonymous said...

The Memorial Cup was anti-climactic IMO. Oshawa was good but not great for sure. Smothering D that Kelowna couldn't handle. Lost to them twice 2-1. Kelowna was too small and couldn't play a greasy game along the wall. In the end it was their lack of size that done them in.

Anonymous said...

Way too much detail Roddy...hahaha!!! Literally laughed out loud regarding your stop in Davidson! And I am kind of shocked that there are this many comments on here already and no negativity or other BS has popped up. Reminds me of when the blog first came out - hopefully it stays that way. Awesome column my friend - have fun!


Anonymous said...

"Kelowna was too small and couldn't play a greasy game along the wall. In the end it was their lack of size that done them in."

What game were you watching?? Kelowna dominated and it was a stellar performance from the Oshawa goalie that did them in. Kelowna was by far the superior team and Oshawa's coach even said that in his post game interview. Their lack of size had absolutely nothing to do with the outcome.

Anonymous said...

"Going Old School' is a compliment RP, the person who commented from Swift Current was actually taking your comment with good humour and appreciation. Maybe you need to be more sensitive...

That all said, awesome write-up today... You just know that many of us out of town (and out of province) Rider Nation fans are following closely. You remain our number one blog for CFL and Rider news - keep it up.

And as someone that once lived in Swift Current, I would not hesitate to go old school with any remark possible as that is the only way to describe that city. Nice people though - Good Rider Fans.

Go Riders!


Anonymous said...

Who's Toby Keith?

Anonymous said...

Rod. I have no idea why the CHL season ended so late. It's a week later than last year or 2 years ago in Saskatoon.

I know the WHL season seemed to end a week later too. Don't know why.

Have fun in Saskatoon.

Russ from Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

IMHO, Kelowna was the better team, don't like the crosscheck from behind in the 1st period (non call) and the goalie interference on the OT goal.
If its not questionable then why did they not show it?
Had to rewind on the PVR to see it. Oh look at this, ref view:

Thanks for not including the OT winning goal from the ref's view.
Got something to hide?
and did the panel seem to be pro OHL instead of a more neutral?

Anonymous said...

Hello Russ from Saskatoon,

Have you been out to watch the camp and, if so, what are your thoughts.

Ross from Regina