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Regina Rams Football

Monday, April 11, 2016

THE MONDAY MORNING GOALIE


MINICAMPING

Today's MMG comes to you from the La Quinta Inn & Suites in beautiful Fort Pierce, Florida, amidst a string of endless waffle houses along the Florida coastline.

First off, some photos and comments from Day 1 of the Saskatchewan Roughriders' annual spring minicamp at Historic Dodgertown in nearby Vero Beach, FL.  Then, a notebook of thoughts from the Sunshine State:


The quarterbacks, 10 of them, congregate during the four-hour long workout ...


Former Ticat and Alouettes QB Dan Lefevour out of Central Michigan is one of a handful of CFL vets trying to make an impression and earn a contract with the Green & White.  Paris Cotton and Chevon Walker are some of the others ...


The bossman, Riders V.P. of Football Operations, General Manager, Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Chris Jones ....


Rams product Aaron Picton (#62) had a fantastic day ... He drew plaudits from coaches of both sides of the ball, with several yelling, "You're getting the hang of it A.P.!"


That's 6'7" DL Caesar Rayford in green cutting into the backfield ... More on him a little further down ...


Rider President Craig Reynolds chats with fans ...


Lots of fans came down for the workout ...


The Rider locker room ...


Players chill in the cold tubs after the vigorous workout ...


Darian Durant graded himself an "A" for Sunday's performance and says his surgically repaired right Achilles' tendon is "close to 100%" ... 


Darian visits with Luc Mullinder and the Riders' Dan Plaster on the livestream at www.riderville.com ...


The SportsCage went live from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm and the podcast is available at www.sportscage.ca ...


The Riders' John Murphy on the Cage ...


Checking out Vero Beach ...



DAY 1 THOUGHTS

1 - I'm still trying to get my mind around the logistics of holding a camp such as this one at Dodgertown, the former spring training home of MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers.  Over 100 players participated in Sunday's "Play-In Tryouts" and of those, only about 14 were brought over to Day 1 of minicamp on Sunday.  Then on Sunday, over 100 different players donned jerseys and shorts to begin tryouts with the club.

Most are the best players found at the Riders' series of walk-on tryout camps held across the Southern U.S. this winter.  In all, the Riders' John Murphy says roughly 250 players will be evaluated during these workouts this week.  Imagine cataloguing all these players, putting them through physical testing, housing and feeding them, meeting with them individually following Saturday's tryout and getting all the travel arrangements sorted out for each and every player!  It has to be a mind-boggling, detailed task but somehow they've pulled it off fluently.

2 - The overall talent level of the entire group is impossible not to notice.  Usually there are a dozen or so players who are far behind the pack on the field but that's not the case here.  This minicamp has the talent and intensity of the Riders' main training camp in Saskatoon.  However, some players are emerging ahead of the others and the Rider talent evaluators say that, as usual, the decisions are making themselves.  (By the players' play).

3 - My Day 1 game balls go to: QB B.J. Coleman, WR Marquez Clark, OL Darius Savage DL Caesar Rayford and LB Nick Williams.  Coleman and Clark hooked up for the Play of the Day -- a beautiful post-corner pattern for a 40-yard touchdown.  Coleman hustled halfway downfield to high five Clark, who's impossible to miss due to his Odell Beckham Jr.-style hairdo.

4 - As noted above, Regina product Aaron Picton along the offensive line had a very solid day which is further remarkable due to the fact there are only nine offensive linemen in camp going against 17 defensive linemen.  Picton's father Derek texted Sunday morning that he wished he was here but as Aaron noted in our interview on the SportsCage, "I don't see too many parents out here."

5 - More on quarterback B.J. Coleman:  The Tennessee-Chattanooga product spent two years with the Green Bay Packers, retired before joining the Arena League's Arizona Rattlers and then retired again.  However he received a call from Chris Jones on New Year's Eve and felt he should give pro football one more shot.  Clearly he made the right decision because he says he's "having a blast", and his enthusiasm, mechanics and cannon arm are hard to ignore.


6 - DL Caesar Rayford comes to the Riders with an impressive resume which includes stints with the Cowboys, Vikings, Colts, Alouettes, Stampeders and Jacksonville Sharks however that can also be something of a red flag.  How come he can't stay in one place for any period of time?  John Murphy noted that Rayford has, at times, been a victim of circumstance and he's eager to put down roots in Saskatchewan and be a productive force.  Rayford even referred to the Riders as "Canada's Team" in our interview, which brought smiles to the faces of Dan Plaster and me.

7 - When watching these workouts I put a check beside a player who made a great play and an "X" beside someone who stood out the other way.  It's an old scouting trick I learned from my Dad who spent several years in the NHL.  So, earning multiple check marks were 5'9" WR Qudarius Ford (Southern Alabama), 5'11 WR Marquez Clark (Central Oklahoma), 6'1" DB Johnathan Schuler (Austin Peay), 6'0" DB Justin Cox (Mississippi State), 6'1" DB Kwame Adjei (Mount Allison) and a player numbered "0" who doesn't appear on the roster.  A handful of receivers had drops, earning an "X" but one of them earning multiple crosses was 5'9" RB Josh Snead (Duke).

8 - CKRM analyst Luc Mullinder really likes 6'2" QB David Watford (Hampton) who earned multiple check marks.

9 - There are three kickers at minicamp, all Canadians, and they are Steve Shott (Okanagan Jr.), Alex Sy (Montreal) and Johnny Mark (Calgary).

10 - 6'6" WR Jeremy Kelley - who comes to the Riders with NFL and CFL experience - was switched to defensive back and took a number of reps, including an interception.  Chris Jones told reporters than Kelly has incredible character and they're simply looking at how he can best-benefit the team.

11 - Regarding Thursday's startling retirement of former Riders and Colts offensive lineman Ben Heenan at the age of 26, most everyone agrees "Good for him".  Ben hasn't given any interviews since the announcement but we did exchange text messages and he said he may be up to speaking this week.  It's obvious that the decision didn't come without much deliberation and we still don't know the exact reason why he decided to call it a career.  However if farming is truly where his heart is, instead of football, then he's getting out while he's still ahead.  Knowing what I know about the brain trauma suffered by so many football players in their 50's and 60's, I have to applaud Ben's decision.

12 - Kudos too, to the Roughriders were bringing home a pair of Rouge Awards from last week's CFL Congress meetings in Toronto.  The Riders were honoured with the Best Community Initative Award for their involvement in the Red Cross's Imagine No Bullying campaign.  They were also named Club Merchant of the Year for their merchandise activities.

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THAT'S ALL FOR NOW!  SEE YOU IN THE CAGE AT 4:00 PM
RP
@rodpedersen

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Look forward to the update

Anonymous said...

Go Pats!

Anonymous said...

Go Red Deer

Anonymous said...

Moose Jaw down 2 Games to ZIP to Wheaties!!!!!!! Pats will be soon as well to Red Deer.

Anonymous said...

Wow, they even had the field marked with Canadian yard markers seeing that they had a 55 yard line marker.

Anonymous said...

Hmm... not 100% ? time to move on after not playing two seasons and do as Ben did.

Anonymous said...

Moving Kelley to a DB? What? Noooooooo

Anonymous said...

With commodity prices going in the tank we'll see what kind of farmer Ben is.

Anonymous said...

Eskimos at 2015 and 2016 Grey Cup Champs

Anonymous said...

Yeah you're a knob.

Anonymous said...

Might be tough for ole Benny