Day 10 of 2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp in Saskatoon was just like all the rest -- perfect temperatures, sunshine and not a drop of rain. Here's some photo evidence of what the Roughriders were up to on Tuesday...
Veteran slotback Chris Getzlaf has sort of flown "under the radar" as far as the media spotlight goes so far this year, which is just the way he likes it. However I wanted to get some shots of the Regina product for a story I'm writing on him...
6-year veteran kicker Chris Milo thought I was trying to get some photos of him...
Defensive line coach Mike Sinclair is one of the most thorough position coaches you will ever run into. Here John Chick listens intently to what Sinclair has to say...
Face in the Crowd: Regina Thunder head coach Scott MacAuley...
Defensive back Macho Harris. I told him he looks like Michael Jackson. He replied, "I prefer to look like Prince!"
Moments later he got his locks under control while still finding time to survey the crowd at Griffiths Stadium...
Under the Helmet: Paul Woldu and Shea Emry...
Rookie draftee Rory Connop. You're welcome Coors Light for the background shot...
As soon as the Riders finished their workout around 5:00 pm, the U of S Huskies track team took over the field...
And not long after, an injury occurred.
More evidence of the track athletes which Luc Mullinder and I discuss on a regular basis on CKRM's SportsCage...
DAY 10 NOTEBOOK
1 - GAME PLANS: The Roughriders are starting to put plans together for their roster for Saturday's preseason game against the Edmonton Eskimos in Fort McMurray (8:00 pm, TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network). Generally in the preseason opener, even if it's on the road, the team will dress as many players as possible or as many will fit on the plane. Head coach Corey Chamblin didn't give a specific number on Tuesday, but I'm guessing there will be 60-some players in uniform.
2 - CHAMBLIN VS JONES: We'll know by Thursday who will make the trip and the coaches will have set out the rotation for when the players will appear by quarter. Chamblin said their veterans will start, but won't play for long. In years past, the head coaches used to confer well in advance of the game about the type of roster they'll field. However it seems in recent years they've gotten away from that.
"I know (Eskimo head coach) Chris Jones," Chamblin stated. "Chris is gonna try to win the game in terms of sometimes he may even play his guys more like three quarters. That's Chris. He does things a little bit different than I do. We want to win the game but there will be an evaluation process that takes place. We'll see what we need to see from our 1's and go from there."
3 - MOVING UP THE DEPTH CHART: Chamblin provided a glimpse into what's going on behind-the-scenes in terms of who's ahead of whom at each position. The coaching staff has started to formulate some decisions on players' abilities based on 10 days of training camp, but the serious conclusions will start to be made come Saturday night.
"Like I told you guys on Day 1 when we talked about it, the game's gonna tell a lot," Chamblin offered. "I've even started to look at making the first regular season game roster. Like when the coaches give it to me, I'm like 'Yep, but I still want to see how they perform in this game'. There's a couple guys that we think are on the bubble and there's a couple guys that's raised their game in the past two days and moved up. They have an opportunity in these preseason games to make the team whether it's start or whatever it may be."
4 - DID HE SAY 'ON THE BUBBLE'?: That's the question most-asked by listeners to the SportsCage: "Which veterans are on the bubble?" The Urban Dictionary describes that phrase as -- "At risk. In peril. Most often used to describe someone or something that may be cut from scope or removed from the group".
In truth, we all know there are certain players on the bubble because there are every year. However you'd have better luck pulling teeth from the Rider Football Operations staffs' mouth than actually getting them to identify who those players are. And it's far too dangerous for us to speculate (or guess) who those players are. I know these are anxious times and people want the information now, but you'll find out over the course of the next two weeks. Honestly I couldn't even guess to whom Chamblin is referring.
5 - JOB INTERVIEWS: A high-ranking club official attended a practice on Wednesday and asked me how many jobs are actually open on this year's team. Off the top of my head, you can likely count these: Centre, Right Tackle, Starting 5 Receiver (if Jamel Richardson isn't 100%), Fullback, possibly Nose Tackle (if they elect to start a Canadian), two Outside Linebacker spots and Punter. That makes eight, and that's a lot. And that's just starters. There are back-up positions available as well, for instance the hole created by receiver Chaz Schilens' retirement. This has made for plenty of wide-open competition, and has made this training camp all the more interesting to observe.
6 - THE DARKHORSE: Another training camp observer asked me who my "darkhorse" is, and again we'll defer to the Urban Dictionary for a definition: "A candidate or competitor about whom little is known but who unexpectedly wins or succeeds".
This would also fall under the category of the popular question of: "Which rookie players have stood out?" This is a tricky one but if you put a gun to my head and asked for ONE darkhorse, it would have to be kicker Ray Early (Furman) who picked up in Week 2 where he left off after Week 1. His punts are towering and long, averaging around 60 yards. He looks pretty sturdy on field goals too. As far as other impressive rookies go, I'd have to say receivers Naaman Roosevelt and Devin Wilson, linebackers Telvion Clark and Jeff Clark, and defensive backs Jeremy Gray, Marrio Norman and Junior Mertile. Veteran Canadian Paul Woldu has been patrolling the boundary corner with the second team defense and has looked first rate as well. Chamblin's correct in saying they've ended up with plenty of options for Canadian starters.
7 - "GENERAL SORENESS": It's one of the latest buzzwords in pro sports. Several players have been given days off in all leagues with teams are now calling "general soreness". Don't we all suffer from that? But seriously, the grind these players' bodies are going through is tortorous and I'm told not to read too much into the injury reports or get concerned when a veteran gets some reps off with the first team. The coaches continue to closely monitor the players' status and give maintenance days accordingly.
However Chamblin said because of the various bumps, bruises and strains, they're looking to bring some more players in.
8 - HAVING SAID THAT...: Safety Tyron Brackenridge is coming off an All-Star season but hasn't seen the field since the early days of camp. His injury hasn't been disclosed but Chamblin said if "T-Brack" isn't able to practice come Monday, then his status for Week 1 will be in question. The exact same goes for veteran long-snapper and defensive end Levi Steinhauer who hasn't participated in any of training camp however he's been on the sidelines each day.
9 - BIG TURK: I may have errored when I listed DE Ryan Wellman and OT Levy Adcock as the tallest players in training camp at 6'6". Saskatoon Hilltops receiver Evan Turkington stands a towering 6'7" and weighs in around 230 lbs. Although he's extremely green, the coaches and scouts are salivating over his raw potential. He's swimming in this playbook, but they feel his future has no ceiling in sight. Having said that, none of the junior players will play in the preseason.
10 - TSN GETTING HAMMERED: CFL fans are raging over the fact so few preseason games will be shown on TSN or its auxillary channels. I'm told only three will be shown and viewers have let TSN have it over social media. It's almost as if Canada's Sports Leader feels once they stroked that huge cheque for the TV rights, they can do whatever they want with the property. The Tiger-Cats took matters into their own hands by live-streaming Monday's 37-10 preseason win over Ottawa and despite some mild hiccups, the webcast was magnficient. TSN.ca tried to do the same with Tuesday's Winnipeg-Toronto game but I'm told it wasn't a quality broadcast. Luc Mullinder and I were unable to log into TSN.ca on any of my Access, SaskTel or Rogers accounts. (I mean, who has their Access customer # in their back pocket anyway? Mine is sitting on my latest invoice at my home office in Regina). Given the importance the CFL has within TSN programming, you'd think they could find one way to broadcast exhibition games on one of their five channels they've boasted about so much. Assuredly they have their reasons, but none have been explained.
THAT'S ALL FOR DAY 10! HAVE A GREAT DAY...
The following is the Day 10 report from the 2015 Roughrider Training Camp courtesy Riders PR.
INJURED/DID NOT PARTICIPATE:
International DL Alex Hall (day-to-day)
International DB Macho Harris (day-to-day)
International WR Weston Dressler (day-to-day)
National WR Scott McHenry (day-to-day)
International DB Antareis Bryan (week-to-week)
National RB Jerome Messam (day-to-day)
International RB Terrance Cobb (day-to-day)
International S Tyron Brackenridge (day-to-day)
National OL Brendon LaBatte (day-to-day)
National DL Levi Steinhauer (week-to-week)
National DL Tim Agbaje (day-to-day)
International DL Cameron Sheffield (day-today)
The Riders altered their morning schedule moving the hour long walk through up to 8:30am in order to use the Griffiths Stadium field before the second day of the elementary track meet began.
That afternoon temperature soared again into the high 20’s for the second on field set of the day. The one hour and forty-five minute session was a mix of live team situations and walk through installation.
PLAY OF THE DAY
During the afternoon skelly period, veteran receiver and Regina native Chris Getzlaf split coverage in the seam to make a solid catch for the would be touchdown from quarterback Darian Durant.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Of course it is fun, like I said all last week, we are all grown men playing a little kids game. It's just at a higher level now. It's coming along and whenever you are doing and you’re playing with your friends, it makes it that much better.” Darian Durant on the positives in training camp.
Players and coaches will hit the field for Day 11 of training camp with two practices. The morning session will begin at 8:30 am at SMF Field at Gordie Howe Park. The team will return to Griffiths Stadium for the afternoon practice from 3:00-4:45pm.
Receivers will walk the fence on the west side of the stadium following tomorrow’s afternoon practice to make up the autograph session that was cancelled last week due to the thunderstorm.
A NOTE FROM JDRF:
June 14 Regina Juvenile Diabetes Walk
Register at www.jdrf.ca/walk
Registration begins at 9:00 with the Walk starting at 10:30 am
Queen Building at Wascana Lake
Please come out and support 93,000 Saskatchewan residents impacted by Diabetes. For every $1.00 raised for JDRF over 80 cents goes directly to Research. One of the highest rankings of health charities in Canada.
John Chick, Rob Bagg and Ballsy – 2015 JDRF Honorary Ambassadors.