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Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Chris Jones addresses his team after a cloudy, cool workout Tuesday


Your starting running back, #2 Curtis Steele.  He split reps on the first team with non-import Matt Walters on Tuesday, and Steele said they're there to support each other.  He said his status as #1 could change any day.  Chris Jones said he's known Steele since he was 19, as he's from Franklin, Tennessee ..

A look at the three kickers in camp.  Truthfully, it's a little early to tell who's ahead of whom in that regard.  The preseason may tell the tale on that ..

A look at linemen one-on-ones ..

Defensive line coach Ed Philion presides over the drill ..

The boss man ..

Brett Smith watches a play ..

Josh Bartel uncorks a punt.  He's picked up where he left off in 2014.  Maybe even better.  He was out of football in 2015 ..

The Rider braintrust ..

Cool temperatures and a midweek workout limited the number of fans in attendance on Tuesday ..

Quarterback B.J. Coleman illustrates a point to Dan Plaster and Luc Mullinder on the Riders' livestream at ..

CTV/TSN's Lee Jones goes one-on-one with Brendon Labatte ..

Country 100.7's Marc Smith chats with fellow Moose Javian Levi Steinhauer ..

Ending the day in the cold tub ..

Rider President Craig Reynolds joins us on the SportsCage.  A listener asked, "What will make a successful season?"   Craig answered, "We gotta make the playoffs" but stopped short of setting the bar in terms of a record ..

Lunchtime at the Bonanza buffet. $10.  The place was packed ..

Advertising works!  The Saskatchewan Rush truly are the hottest ticket in town and can clinch the NLL title at home on Saturday night. However the Saskatoon Blades, I'm afraid, are non-existent ..

Our brand new, downtown hotel. I highly recommend it ..


Here's an update on Tuesday's Day 3 of Roughriders Training Camp 2016 here in Saskatoon:.

1 - Some personality is starting to emerge from this football club.  On the very last play of the team period for the morning, a huge cheer erupted from the defensive players after defensive back Dan West planted receiver Clarence Denmark, stopping him shy of a first down.  It meant the defense won the padded practice by a narrow margin.

"Ya nothing was on the line yet but once we get into the regular season, it will be for chicken," Riders Head Coach & GM Chris Jones explained about the competition.  "It was 52-52 (reps) there at the end so we got 104 plays and that was the 105th play.  It was a very competitive day.

"It's all about having fun.  It's competitive but we don't threaten these guys with their jobs.  Everybody knows what's at stake.  We just come out here and try to make football fun. That's what it should be."

2 - There were a handful of key players who did not participate in the workout and all were "nicked" according to Jones.  The group included: WR John Chiles, DE Justin Capicciotti, DL Jonathan Newsome and LB Jeff Knox Jr.

3 - More than I've ever seen before, Chris Jones has players crossing the line of scrimmage in this camp to play positions they've never played before.  For instance that group includes receiver Kevin Francis moving to safety, receiver Jordan Reaves taking reps on the defensive line, offensive lineman Tre'von Armstead has been switched to defensive line while defensive linemen A.C. Leonard and Hasan Hazine have switched to the offensive line.

Jones explained that he did the same thing in Edmonton last year, pointing to the example of defensive tackle Eddie Steele switching to offense and starting on the offensive line for two games.  He explained it as "building depth within your roster, and not necessarily on the practice roster".  With players getting injured and with limited CFL rosters, he doesn't want to have to throw a player into a position they're not familiar with.

It seems to be extraordinary forward-thinking.

4 - There's been considerable mixing and matching within the position groups.  Chris Best was replaced at right guard by Andrew Jones, with Best taking snaps at centre and at tight end.  He was proficient in both areas, particularly springing long runs off the end.

5 - Levi Steinhauer is long-snapping due to the abence of Jorgen Hus (personal) while getting plenty of reps at defensive end.

Meanwhile newcomer Tony Criswell, #78, stood out above the rest on Tuesday with a pair of acrobatic knockdowns coming off the edge.

It's rare for a head coach to point out players who are standing out but Chris Jones isn't afraid to.  On Tuesday he singled out DL #77 Jordan Reaves and LB #76 Dillon Grondin for their exemplary efforts.  He said he's had to constantly check his roster for their names, and those two are consistently popping up.

6 - Who knows who the starting secondary will be in Week 1 but one of the top groupings included: Marte Sears-Tyree Hollins-Kevin Francis-Ed Gainey-Johnnie Dixon.

7 - Luc Mullinder described the performance of DB Ed Gainey in training camp as "unreal".  Gainey's in his 5th CFL season, but is only 25 years old.

8 - Saskatonian and CFL veteran Graig Newman has patrolled the corner so far in this training camp.

9 - Incumbent receiver Naaman Roosevelt might be the most eye-catching player so far in training camp.  The former NFL'er had 488 yards in 10 games last season with the Riders and has been dazzling in Saskatoon.  However he went down hard on Tuesday and spent some time on the turf which caused the entire workout to come to a halt.  The concern amongst his teammates illustrated how key Roosevelt figures to be with the Roughriders this season.

10 - I was having a tough time coming up with the proper words to describe the vibe of 2016 training camp but Saskatoon Phoenix columnist Les McPherson summed it up perfectly in his Tuesday column.  The news columnist said he came out to witness camp and noticed that these are basically "strangers" who are trying out for the team.  Gone are the mainstays like Weston Dressler, John Chick and Chris Getzlaf who were habitually in camp year-after-year and were comforting to the fans in attendance.

However Chris Jones was quick to point out this isn't a collection of rookies.  Players like John Chiles, Curtis Steele, Ed Gainey, Shawn Lemon, Justin Capicciotti, Greg Jones, Otha Foster, Shamawd Chambers and Matt Walters are all CFL vets who are coming into the prime of their careers.

It's something we've been writing about on this blog for months but now that the fans are seeing this team for real, they still don't know who these players are.

The oddsmakers have the Roughriders predicted to finish 8th overall in 2016, but the Riders plan to give the CFL a big surprise.

Really the only question which remains is:  how long will it take?


Chris Jones poses with a young fan.  No, it's not his child.
The following is the Day 3 report from the 2016 Roughrider Training Camp presented by Coors Light from Roughriders PR.


National fullback Spencer Moore

Number change:
Dillon Grondin is now wearing #76

Did not participate: 
Justin Capicciotti (day-to-day)
John Chiles (day-to-day)
Jorgen Hus (suspended – personal)
Jeff Knox Jr. (day-to-day)
Jonathan Newsome (day-to-day)
Eric Norwood (injured)
Xavier Walker (day-to-day)

National linebacker Nehemie Kankolongo                       

The players returned to the field for Day 3 of training camp and for the second day in a row the pads were on. The competition continues to intensify as the single practice session of the day included an extended one-on-one period and game like situations during teams period.

Coach Jones watched intently as the offensive and defensive lines battled it out in one-on-ones as he nominated a handful of defensive players to take reps as offensive linemen.   

Veteran receiver Rob Bagg made an impressive diving catch along the sidelines on a deep corner route during the one-on-one period.

During the full team period, rookie Canadian defensive back Joel Brtka from the Burlington Braves junior football program jumped in front of a pass to the flats for an impressive interception.  

Players and coaches will hit the practice field at Griffiths Stadium for Day 4 of training camp with two practice sessions. The players will be on the field at 9:00AM with practice running until approximately 12:30PM.