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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

RIDER MINICAMP WRAPS UP



POSTCARDS AND A NOTEBOOK FROM FLORIDA

1 - A brisk two-hour workout marked the third and final day of the 2016 Saskatchewan Roughriders annual spring minicamp in Vero Beach, FL.  As the players and coaches will attest, it was likely the finest session of the three days and now the 100-plus players are headed back to their various homes across the U.S. and Canada.

2 - Rider Head Coach & GM Chris Jones was happy with Day 3, and the overall productivity of the camp.  "It's the hump day when you have a couple of two-a-days and then a third one in a row where guys might not be able to make it through practice or mentally it defeats them," Jones said.  "So it's good to be able to evaluate exactly where they are physically and mentally.  I thought it was a really athletic camp.  I thought there was a lot of guys who carried their skill to the field.  The quarterbacks did an outstanding job of getting them in and out of the huddle and delivering the football.  I thought the coaches drove the guys hard and overall I'm really pleased."

3 - Darian Durant's off-season workouts in Atlanta proved to be very worthwhile.  He was deadly accurate and polished which wasn't the case the past few minicamps in Bradenton, FL.  He even displayed the Peyton Manning- or Kent Austin-like trait of being visibly frustrated when a player dropped a well-thrown pass.

"No doubt about it," Durant commented.  "This game was taken away from me for almost two years and when (a dropped pass) happens, you have to take each and every play as if it's your last.  If my last throw is a throw on the money and a guy drops it, I don't want to be remembered walking off the field in a loss or making a bad play."

4 - It truly seems like a new, refreshed or even reborn Darian Durant.  He's always given off the vibe that he's having fun on the field, but now he's "stopping to smell the roses" so to speak.  After workouts this week here at Dodgertown, Durant was seen greeting fans and posing for photos.  That's a new thing for him as he approaches his 11th CFL season.

"I know," Durant smiled.  "It's a part of it.  That's what being part of Rider Nation and being in this position is all about.  I embrace every part of what's on-field, off-field or in the community.  It all comes with it and I enjoy it.  I'm just having fun and enjoying every moment.  I'm going to be a little more active on social media as well and enjoy the ride because when it's over, it's over.  I don't want to look with back with any regrets.

"We all know when you get up in your 30's, your career is winding down a little bit.  I don't want to look at it  that way but that's the reality.  I want to enjoy these next 10 years if I can."

5 - To the evaluations:  Earning multiple checkmarks on Wednesday were OL Kamalie Mathews (Murray State), QB David Watford (Hampton), WR Michael Campbell (Temple), DL Jabari Hunt (Georgia Tech), Dl Josh Kaddu (Oregon), DB Justin Cox (Mississippi State), DB Shelton Johnson (Wisconsin) and OL Tre'Von Armstead (Baylor).  Earning an "X" were WR Randy Roseway (St. Francis Xavier), QB Shane Austin (Hawaii), WR Braylon Bell and LB Dillon Grondin (Windsor Jr.).  Those erros were tracked from dropped passes, passes in the dirt or being beat in one-on-ones.

6 - WR Marquez Clark - former Atlanta Falcon - was, to me, the most eye-popping receiver in the workouts and I wouldn't be surprised to see him brought to training camp in Saskatoon.  The defensive players on the sidelines were shouting, "They always throw to 88!"  That drew extra attention from the defenders on the field but he still found a way to get open and catch passes.  Many catches were of the spectacular variety.

7 - For good reason, the Roughriders won't release the results of their physical testing which includes the 40-yard dash, vertical, shuttle and 3-cone drills.  Why?  Because if a player isn't signed, they don't want their efforts in recognizing and evaluating him being open to the football world.  Makes sense to me.

8 - Rider fans will be in love with the offense under new coordinator Stephen McAdoo.  From a basic level to the naked eye, there's a penchant to roll the quarterback out of the pocket which fans have been clamouring for for years.  That also suits Darian Durant's talents well, so long as his Achilles tendon holds up and he assures us there's no issues there.

The overall cohesion of the coaching staff is evident as well and that's the benefit of the entire staff moving over from Edmonton. The right hand knows what the left hand is doing, and vice versa.  Over the past few minicamps the Riders were getting used to new coordinators and how those coaches relate to the Head Coach.  That's not the case here and they truly have hit the ground running.

9 - There's no other spot to mention this so I will here -- we were very disappointed with Expedia with regards to organizing the trip to Vero Beach.  First off, I was double booked for the flights and therefore double-billed.  Then, once we got to Orlando on Saturday there was no record of my rental car booking with Alamo.  Otherwise I would've gone with Avis, which I always do.  And Expedia said there were no hotels in Vero Beach so we were shuttled off to La Quinta which was 24 miles south in Fort Pierce, FL.  The locals were baffled why were stuck out in the boonies by I-95, especially when there were plenty of hotels in Vero Beach with acres of empty parking spots meaning there was vast vacancy.  Subsequent efforts to speak with a representative from Expedia have gone ignored.  Oh well, lesson learned and we won't be using Expedia again.

10 - Tune into the SportsCage on 620 CKRM today at 4:00 pm for a detailed rundown of the Florida minicamp and interviews with several Roughrider personalities.



A nice and new touch:  Rider boss Chris Jones thanked us for coming down to Vero Beach and providing blanket coverage of the minicamp. Team President Craig Reynolds did the same thing.  First class!




Marquez Clark ...


Dodgertown ambassador Hideo Nomo poses for a photo with Rider OL coach Mike Scheper on Wednesday.  Nomo was the first Japanese player in Major League Baseball ...


Very cool. 1988 World Series champion skipper Tommy Lasorda still has his nameplate on his office at Dodgertown. There's a bed inside, which gives you an idea of the work ethic required to be a champion.


QB B.J. Coleman with Dan Plaster ...


LB coach Phillip Lolley on the Rider livestream ...


The coaches' meeting room. The holdover staff was impressed with Chris Jones' "inclusive" approach, and willingness to listen to all opinions ...


Getting out, looking around, seeing the sights ...








Top down, Florida-style ...

------

THANKS FOR READING ...
RP

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Online booking hasn't worked well for me either. I prefer to search online and call the hotel directly to reserve unless you really know the area. Often there's better pricing that way too, etc.

Anonymous said...

Go Pats! Who gives a SH-T about Rider mini-camp when the local hockey team is playing. Expected better from this blog. Nice Pats write up today.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Rod Pedersen plus associated staff for providing these Sk.Rrs coverage reports.

EL A

Anonymous said...

Where's the bikini shots of Mrs Sportscage damnit??? Tiffany Lizee's got nothin' on her. I accidentally paid for $5000 worth of options on my new car cause was staring at her and not paying attention!

Rally Driver said...

We used Expedia for 1 trip to Fort St.John and never again. Had to pay for 3 rooms for 1 night because it was a worn out dive and we went elsewhere. Expedia rated it 4 star, was at best 2. Replacement hotel, not listed on Expedia, was brand new and $10 more a night. On the way home we stayed in Jasper and the hotel had 8 total parking spots.It was OK but hadn't been redone since the 80s and was $225 a night in September. In Banff, Expedia rated the hotel 4 star, but it really needed a redo. Live and learn.

Dick Rubnutz said...

Great work while down in Vero Beach. Greatly appreciate all the write-ups on the new players and how the coaching staff does things. Next up the draft and then Saskatoon

Lisa Anderson said...

Great read Rod. Thanks for the daily update. The closer we get to June, the more excited I am getting. Sounds like there is a whole new "attitude" within the organization. As much as the "house cleaning" hurt, it is more and more evident it was required.

A note regarding Expedia. Why use an on line booking site, when you can utilize a local travel agent?

Anonymous said...

Anon #2: Not everyone that comes to this blog is from Regina. Not everyone is from Saskatchewan. Hell, not everyone is from Canada so lighten up. You want pats news wait for Phil Andrews, that's all he writes about.
Thanks Rod for all the mini camp news and pics. Keep it coming. Can not wait for the season. Luv the direction and intensity of the new staff.
Go Riders

Rally Driver said...

Lisa Anderson, Lesson learned. Booked our May trip to New York through Kate at Carlson Wagonlit. It's sure a lot easier and less stressful dealing with a professional.

Anonymous said...

Agree with using local travel agent. They don't cost much more and have your back if problems occur (no rental, hotel not appropriate). Really the slight extra cost is well worth the inconveniences suffered. There is a reason professionals use professionals. BTW did Chris Jones book his coaching staff travel arrangements through Expedia?
Time to look at your advertisers to see if you list the riders travel agents (Dash?). I would use them if I knew they would look after Riders Media professionally during minicamps and spring training.

Anonymous said...

ec pedia sucks big time! (name change for legal purpose)

Anonymous said...

Outstanding coverage as usual Rod. Count me in for 'can't wait' until training camp opens in June. Very excited. Will be a great year.

Aaron

Anonymous said...

Nobody gives one cr a a a p load about PATS, they are done

Anonymous said...

I use Expedia, Trivago, etc. all the time. But, before I book, I look through all the reviews. I used to work at a couple of hotels, so hope I have some knowledge in that area.

Usually, franchises are a sure bet, but not all the time. I have also stayed at Ma and Pa no-name motels, which were just as nice.

If you can find a hotel that is going through some renos, usually their prices are decreased to retain their clients. If you call the hotel directly, they will probably find you a better rate than what is advertised.

Here are some hotels I have stayed at lately, and would recommend to anyone:
Clarion in Medicine Hat - provided amenities I have never seen before. Owners are from Swift Current.

Best Western Prescottonian in Prescott, Arizona - largest continental breakfast I have ever seen! It ran along 3 sides of the room! You name it, it was served.

Econolodge Airport - Phoenix, Arizona - Nice clean rooms and nice outside pool area. Maintenance man did not speak English, but he stayed well past quitting time and fixed our door lock. Good basic economical place to stay close to the airport.

Imagirl

Anonymous said...

/////// Go Pats Go \\\\\\\ Go Pats Go /////// Go Pats Go \\\\\\\ Go Pats Go \\\\\\\ Go Pats Go \\\\\\\ Go Pats Go \\\\\\\ Go Pats Go \\\\\\\

Anonymous said...

Pats win big

Anonymous said...

You know not what you speak of, Tiffany Lizee hot hot hot!

Anonymous said...

I'll name it. Did they serve Snausages?

I'm@gurl

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the Riders coverage Rod.
I'm thrilled to know that after 10 years Darian finally has an OC that is going to allow him to roll out instead of trying to convert him to a pocket passer.
I've never figured that mentality out, and that includes a Grey Cup run. We could have been so much better.

A Medicine Hat Tiger fan.

Anonymous said...

What kind of logo is that on the equipment bag. Nice to see that CFL with a maple leaf and football. Very Recognizable.....

Anonymous said...

Top notch coverage The all rider fan page says you don't think Brett Smith will make the cut after camp. Is this true you said that?

Anonymous said...

I don't believe Rod said that.

Anonymous said...

Maybe read the article or listen to the Sportscage podcasts and find the answer yourself?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm not glued to my radio 24/7 and work for a living. I disagree and think Smith will make the cut

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Rod thought Smith wasn't going to make it last year as well. Smith makes it to camp, again. Also, the Riders would be foolish to let Smith go now, especially after having gotten the experience from last season. Look at Smith's overall stats and compare them to JJennings from BC. Almost identical but Smith didn't have the luxury of playing Sask last season, like Jennings did, but JJennings gets the accolades and praise and Smith gets the disdain. Smith also takes the knock for sacks but he led all QB's in the CFL in rushing with 450 yds. At 23 yrs of age, and some seasoning, Smith will be a franchise gut at some point.

Cathe Offet said...

Sorry your online booking went sideways, I would like your readers to know that you did not book with Exoedia CruiseShipCenters in Regina, which is full service, locally owned and can book all travel related products, not just expedias. That way you get where you want, when you want and how you want. Try using one of the local agencies who support you and all of our teams!