1 - SASKATOON -- Apparently there's a world outside 2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders Training Camp at Griffiths Stadium. That's what they're telling me anyways. Today we'll provide an update on the latest with Canada's Team plus some thoughts on the sports news everywhere else. By the way it was another great weather day for football with the sun shining and the temperature staying steady in the low 20's:
2 - THE "G" WORD -- It took until Day 4 but we finally heard that term. "Grey Cup". And it came from an unlikely source, Riders head coach Corey Chamblin. After a spirited and crisp morning workout, Chamblin seemed very upbeat about his team's chances of being a championship contender.
"I will tell you, I'm very pleased with today," Chamblin said confidently. "This looks like a team that has the makings of being a Grey Cup football team. I'm very pleased with what I saw, I'm pleased with the talent, I'm pleased with the way the systems are coming along and I'm pleased with where we are. Overall I think the staff is doing a good job, the coaches are doing a good job and the players are doing a damn good job of making themselves ready to play football games."
3 - THE TRUTH -- In almost the same breath, Chamblin cautioned that the team has some growing to do along the all-important offensive line. With openings at centre and right tackle, there's a lot of work that needs to be done in a short amount of time. CBC's Glenn Reid asked the coach if he anticipates some growing pains in the early stages of the season.
"I expect there will be in a lot of positions just because of the new system but in terms of technique, not much," Chamblin predicted. "Each one of those guys is here for a reason. We've seen Dan Clark a little bit more in that (centre) position last year than Cory Watman but I'm confident both of those guys have the grit and the technique to get the job done."
It will be a challenge for the Roughriders to emulate their incredible start the past two seasons when they went an astonishing combined 16-3. However with four of their first five games at home including a Week 1 clash against the rebuilding Winnipeg Blue Bombers on June 27, the table is set for another fast start.
|John Chick poses with someone else's kids|
Nary a ball hit the ground but the first drop was charged to Weston Dressler who sat on the turf and smashed the ball into the ground. Veteran corner Tristan Jackson stopped the bleeding when he cut underneath a 30-yard Brett Smith pass intended for rookie Naaman Roosevelt. Just before that, from my spot in the press box, I heard one defensive player scream, "The offense is killing us! Let's pick it up!" Once they buckled down, the aerial assault ceased. Later in the workout, middle linebacker Shea Emry dropped a sure pick off of Durant and he immediately dropped to the rug and did 10 push-ups.
The intensity continued to ramp up later in the workout when rookie non-import DB Michael Carter (Maryland) intercepted Kevin Glenn. Carter was immediately mobbed by the defense and he did a hip-bump with defensive coordinator Greg Quick. Carter had me checking my roster several times on Wednesday to find his name. He had a great day.
|Then Chick signs for little old ladies. Later on he rescued three kittens from a fire.|
I wrote after last week's rookie camp that I'd be keeping a close eye on rookie OL Kyle Paterson (U of Regina) and he's been working in the third group at right guard with Huskies product Brad Nehring at centre. In the second session Paterson, a Weyburn product, jumped glaringly offside. It's tough to know how many offensive linemen will be kept around on the practice roster once the final roster is set.
6 - THE TERRANCE NUNN AWARD: There's a new leader in the clubhouse for the coveted Terrance Nunn Award for training camp MVP (as selected by CKRM's SportsCage). Sophomore DB Matt Webster (Queen's) was described as "phenomenal" by Chamblin on Tuesday and that's for his work both on, and off, the field. He's had several emphatic knockdowns and interceptions and even corrected Chamblin once in meetings. Again, who knows how many Canadian DBs the club will retain but Webster comes at a more attractive pricetag than veterans Keenan MacDougall and Paul Woldu. Kicker Ray Early (Furman) was our early favourite for the award, and he's done nothing to diminish his chances. But the kickers had a rougher day on Wednesday than they did before. And the conditions were less windy.
7 - THEY KNOW THEIR FOOTBALL... -- In Saskatoon. It's been interesting to mill about within the crowd and hear the mutterings of the fans in attendance. While in the washroom during the 5:00 pm newsbreak in the SportsCage, I asked one old-timer how he feels the team looks. "Pretty good," he said as he ran his hands under the dryer. "They're getting better everyday." He's 100% bang on.
8 - ONE DAY AT A TIME -- That's how we roll here at RodPedersen.com. The Riders will hold a walk-through Thursday morning and then hold another at 2:30 pm at Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse in Prince Albert. As I write this column, I don't even know where that is. Perhaps a reader from P.A. can help me out? And then we'll skedaddle over to Prince Albert's Boston Pizza to broadcast the SportsCage on 620 CKRM. A listener asked on Wednesday what they can expect from the Riders in P.A. and analyst Luc Mullinder remarked, "Basically the Riders are just coming up there to meet you. Don't expect much action." Incidentally if you're coming down to Boston Pizza for the show, bring your smartphone so you can listen on the Rider App. We won't have speakers set up so you'll have to listen on your headphones over the radio.
9 - SHEETS TO THE WIND -- How long before we'll stop being asked for daily updates on Kory Sheets? Those inquiries continue to come into the SportsCage however, again, you can forget about the 2013 Grey Cup MVP wearing Green & White any time soon. Sheets wrote on Twitter this week that he's still waiting for surgery on his torn achilles tendon and "I'm a regular guy now with a 9-5 job". No word on what that job is.
10 - CONGRATS TO KATE! -- It's hard not to be excited for Kate Pettersen, the daughter of former Roughrider and TSN colour commentator Leif Pettersen, who was announced this week as part of the Argonauts broadcast crew on TSN 1050 Radio in Toronto. She'll be providing sideline reports for team broadcasters Mike Hogan and Jeff Johnson. Since her time as an intern at Global Regina, Kate has been tirelessly trying to get her foot in the door in the CFL broadcasting fraternity. Now it's here and it didn't take her long to change her Instagram profile to "TSN". Good for you Kate! I hope to get her on the SportsCage by the end of the week.
11 - THE CUISINE TOUR -- We were planning to hit the new Canadian Brewhouse in Saskatoon Wednesday evening for some wings and nachos while watching Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However a 45-minute wait right after the radio show just wouldn't do so we relented and hit up the nearby Tony Roma's for some comfort food finished off by ice cream and a brownie for dessert. It may have not been cutting edge, but it certainly satisfied our grumbling bellies and we didn't miss much of Chicago's eventual 2-1 win in Tampa Bay. That was an awful hockey game.
12 - PETER KING -- For those keeping tabs on American football, the king of NFL reporters, Peter King, posted his off-season power rankings in his enormously popular Monday Morning Quarterback column. The Top 5 are: Baltimore, Seattle, Green Bay, Kansas City and New England. The worst? The Tennessee Titans.$
13 - LOTS OF INTERESTING HOCKEY NOTES -- Where to start? I almost fell off my chair when I heard Brandon Wheat Kings boss Kelly McCrimmon was interviewed by the Toronto Maple Leafs last week. As one hockey person said, "For what?" And that's not a shot. Crim is qualified to run any aspect of that organization but it definitely came out of the blue ... Meanwhile word came down from the website PANow.com that the Prince Albert Raiders are in line to hire Jason Ripplinger as their next GM. The Regina product and former Humboldt Broncos goaltender has spent forever as the head scout with the Vancouver Giants. If true, it's a great move by the Raider board ... However I heard a rumour Thursday morning that Lorne Molleken has interviewed twice for the job ... And now as of noon Thursday I heard another name is in line for the job and he's a Raider alum. Stay tuned - it'll be announced Monday morning ... Meanwhile deposed Raider GM Bruno Campese has landed on his feet with the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton. Campese spent eight seasons as GM with the Raiders ... Not a fan of the new Prince George Cougars logo. Not a fan. ... What a banner day for the SJHL! Their first-ever bantam draft goes today at the Evergreen Centre in Nipawin. The Yorkton Terriers own the #1 overall pick.
THAT'S ALL FOR THIS WEEK! THANKS FOR READING!