The Roughriders opened Week 2 of 2015 training camp Monday morning at the picture-esque SMF Field, home of the Saskatoon Hilltops. The most notable item from the get-together was Corey Chambin's heated post-practice comments to the players.
Chamblin had been nipping at the players' heels throughout the workout - particularly the defense - but he really let the group have it afterwards saying they need to pick their pace up to game speed. One thing he mentioned was that the Eskimos will "run through" the Riders Saturday in Fort McMurray if they don't bring up the intensity.
The temperature climbed to 31 degrees and Chamblin admitted his temper did too.
"It raised, I raised," Chamblin smiled. "It was a good practice. I really thought they picked it up towards the end. Just had to get 'em going. We're getting ready to play a game. A lot of those young guys don't know what game tempo is like so we just had to raise that level and raise that intensity."
Veteran quarterback Tino Sunseri says Chamblin was not out of line with his heated comments.
"No it's a good thing," Sunseri shrugged. "That shows that's there no complacency, ever, whenever we step onto that field. We're always pushing ourselves to be better. We know when the practice goes smoothly and we know the game shape he's talking about and wants us to be in. That's our leader and you just have to follow his lead. He just wants to get the best out of us each and every day."
Chamblin's entering his fourth season as Riders' head coach and by now we know what he's doing. The veterans know it too. Everything out of Chamblin's mouth is calculated and even the head coach admitted there was a method to his madness.
"No I'm just setting the tone," Chamblin said. "I just gotta set the tone. That's my job. My job as the leader of this team is to set the tone and then have the coaches follow it and go from there. I could speak about it but until I actually show them what it is, then they don't know the tone. I try to make sure they know exactly what the vision is I want to see."
MORE SMF FIELD PHOTOS
Weston Dressler was one of a handful of players who got Monday off as a maintenance day..
Offensive line coach Dan Dorazio puts his troops through their paces. Darren Zary of the Star Phoenix wrote a wonderful piece on Dorazio, a four-time Grey Cup champion and Pittsburgh, PA product. Look up the article if you can...
More photos for the Picton family scrapbook...
Rider GM Brendan Taman, a proud Saskatonian...
The scoreboard is reminiscent of the old "clock" at Ivor Wynne Stadium. It was the nicest part of the joint...
Assistant GM Jeremy O'Day...
Construction continues on the spacious and state-of-the-art football facilities at Gordie Howe Park...
Astounding. Simply astounding.
- We'd heard for the past few years about SMF Field - formerly Gordie Howe Bowl - but until you see it, there's no accurate way to describe it. The $12-million dollar project is nearing completion however they're still $600,000 short. Once raised, those funds will go towards demolition of the old buildings.
- A shoutout to the Saskatoon Minor Football crew, and John Marceniuk, for spending hours cleaning up the facility over the weekend so it was spic and span for the Riders' arrival on Monday morning. There wasn't a scrap of trash anywhere to be found. It was noted that the Hilltops probably spend the least amount of time there than any other tenant, playing only four or five games a year on the grounds. However I pointed out it's the Hilltops who made it famous.
- Being the former voice of the Regina Rams, I felt an inhospitable air when walking into the stadium but that was only in my mind. I asked Rider guard Brendon Labatte if he feels the same way at Griffiths Stadium, and suiting up in the Huskies locker room. "Absolutely!" Labatte smiled. "I'm Rams to the core."
- It always seemed like there would be some broadcast difficulty when we came into Gordie Howe Bowl to call Rams-Hilltops games, like the phone line being cut just before the 1991 PFC Final. Hopefully adequate funds are directed to the broadcast booths! They always seem to be last in line.
- Will Regina ever name a sporting park after Jordan Eberle like Saskatoon has done for the great Gordon Howe? Perhaps GETZLAF PARK would be more suitable, given that family's Stanley Cup and Grey Cup titles.
- Actually it would be great if ALL of Roughrider training camp was to be held at SMF Field because it has such a comfortable, beautiful atmosphere but the only reason the Riders were displaced was due to a track meet at Griffiths Stadium. The Riders were back over there for their afternoon workout.
- The Riders were afforded Sunday off but Chamblin was certainly cracking the whip when Week 2 began. Players were loudly reminded to sprint between drills, rather than walk, and to get to a game pace. It seems they were red-lining all of Week 1 but after the break, they needed a fire under their butts to get back to championship level.
- Darian Durant seemed sharp in skelly and team drills on Monday, with a high completion rate. He was distributing the ball to just about all of his trusty targets, including Anthony Allen, Rob Bagg, Jamel Richardson, Chris Getzlaf, Taj Smith and Ryan Smith. With Dressler getting some rest, sophomore Ryan Smith saw work with the first team offense.
- Left tackle Xavier Fulton got a breather for much of Monday, with his blindside spot being occupied by rookie Michael Phillip. However I'm told it was more of a rest for "X", rather than his job being in jeopardy.
- Still, the Riders seem to have a good stable of import offensive tackles in Levy Adcock, Phillip and Randy Richards. By starting two, they'll certainly need to keep some around on the practice roster if not the active roster.
- Anthony Allen got some days off in Week 1 but he got a lot of work on Day 9. However it appears the Riders will get a lot of work out of Jerome Messam, Steven Miller and perhaps even rookie Nic Demski once the regular season begins.
- The playbook of new offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine is imaginative and creative. It seems like there's no end of tricks up his sleeve and he'll be using all of the arrows in his quiver, much like Paul Lapolice did in his days with the Green & White. It keeps players fresh and makes them all feel part of the team.
- Their Red Zone offense will be highly unpredictable but I have to resist the urge to spill some of their trick plays. Wait until the mid-season games against West Division opponents.
- Midway through the morning workout was when Chamblin started in with his barking at the team. "This is not a kids' practice!" was one of the things he shouted.
- Chamblin's been outfitted with a microphone which blares his voice through the stadium speakers. His comments, at times, are hilarious. "Flag on Darian Durant for flowing a flag!" Chamblin shouted on Monday, in reference to the Rider quarterback shouting for flags on perceived infractions.
- With veteran safety Tyron Brackenridge continuing to watch from the sidelines, prized free agent signee Keenan MacDougall of Saskatoon is getting a good, long look in the safety spot. Perhaps we'll even see him in Saturday's Northern Kickoff against Edmonton.
- I don't know why it's taken so long but I'm infinitely impressed by the attitude of one Victor "Macho" Harris. He runs his mouth at least as much as Dwight Anderson but he actually has something encouraging and worthwhile to say. He got Monday afternoon off but he performed the role of waterboy, bringing refreshments out to his teammates who were doing the work on the field. I haven't seen a ton of guys do that over the years.
- CFL Commissioner Jeffrey Orridge will be in Fort McMurray for the Northern Kickoff, and will be a special live guest on our pregame show. The Eskimos lined that up, which I thought was a very classy gesture.
- While listening to the Ticats postgame show after their 37-10 preseason win over Ottawa, the announcers were saying the biggest factor in the game was how the new rule changes are being implemented and called by the officials. We'll have to be on our toes in the broadcast booth for that.
- The Ticats blew up their radio crew a few weeks back by jumping from long-time rightsholder 900 CHML to the soon-to-be-branded TSN 1150. Play-by-play man Rick Zamprien has been dumped in favour of Andy McNamara, the former Argonauts sideline reporter. Long-time colour commentator John Salivantis was retained while TSN personality Matt Cauz has joined the crew. What a shame for Zamprien, who never had the opportunity to call a Grey Cup win for the Tabbies.
- Hamilton did an amazing job of live-streaming Monday's preseason game from their website at Ticats.ca. Rod Black and Chris Schultz called the action, then jumped on TSN Radio in Hamilton for the postgame show. It was pretty slick.
- Luc Mullinder and I agree that it's great to see other teams experiment and conquer on their various digital platforms. It can't always be the Roughriders. These are the kinds of things that are going to make the CFL grow by leaps and bounds.
- I have to say, Luc is one funny sonofagun. Regarding rookie Ticats quarterback Jeff Mathews out of prestigious Cornell University, Luc scoffed, "What? He didn't want to follow in the long line of pediatricians in his family??"
- Thanks to the Dairy Queen across from the University of Saskatchewan for dropping off M&M and Oreo Blizzards for Luc and me during the SportsCage on Monday. PICTONS -- you are now on the clock.
- We hit up the Canadian Brewhouse to watch Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final Monday evening (an eventual 3-2 Tampa Bay win over Chicago). The place was rather impressive.
THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY! THANKS FOR CHECKING IN...
The following is the Day 9 report from the 2015 Roughrider Training Camp from Rider 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)
International DB Antareis Bryan (week-to-week)
International RB Terrance Cobb (day-to-day)
International S Tyron Brackenridge (day-to-day)
National DL Levi Steinhauer (week-to-week)
International DL Derek Walker (day-to-day)
International DL Tearrius George (day-to-day)
Due to an elementary school track meet, the Riders morning practice was moved to the recently upgraded and serene SMF Field at Gordie Howe Park. Temperatures soared to the mid-twenties before the 8:30am practice was underway, as the hot and muggy morning led to a notable amount of constructive feedback from head coach Corey Chamblin.
The pads went on for the afternoon practice and the players responded with energy and intensity through the one hour and forty-five minute session.
PLAY OF THE DAY
The defence stole the show in the morning highlights with a couple interceptions – led by Saskatoon native Keenan MacDougall who stole the ball out of the hands of the intended receiver. Linebacker Kevin Regimbald added another turnover as he stuck with a deflected ball over the middle and was met with an enthusiastic roar from the defence.
The offence responded in the afternoon session as second year receiver Ryan Smith jumped for a ball between two defenders to haul in a 30-yard touchdown pass from veteran quarterback Darian Durant.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"It was a good practice, I really thought they picked it up during the end. I just had to get them going. We are getting ready to play a game, and a lot of those guys don't know what game tempo looks like, so we have to raise that level and raise that intensity." Riders head coach Corey Chamblin
Players and coaches will hit the field for Day 10 of training camp with two walk through sessions. The first walk through will take place at 9:30 am on the grass field adjacent to Griffith’s Stadium. The afternoon practice will run from approximately 3:00-4:55 pm back on the field inside Griffiths.