Day 5 of Saskatchewan Roughriders Training Camp was held on another warm, sunny day at Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon on Thursday.
Many SportsCage listeners have been asking about how the kicking game is progressing with the three kickers in camp: Tyler Crapigna, Josh Bartel and Quinn Van Gylswyk. We got a good, long look at special teams on Thursday and we asked ST Coordinator Craig Dickenson for an assessment:
"I thought it was decent," Dickenson stated. "We gave Josh the day off punting so he didn't punt. That was Quinn out there and he hit some bombs. But as the wind picked up, he started pressing a little bit and didn't do as well at the end so he's got a lot to learn. He's still pretty raw but we saw some real nice returns. That #1 (Qudarius Ford) is pretty good and Crapigna's had an excellent camp. All in all, I thought it was pretty decent."
The Riders' John Murphy hinted on the SportsCage on Wednesday that the team may find a way to keep all three kickers with the club this season and Dickenson concurred.
"I think we should," Dickenson agreed. "Certainly that's not my decision but I'll have input. I just think we got too much talent there and somebody'll pick 'em up if we let a guy go. I think all three of them can contribute and you'd like to keep all your best players if you can."
I noted to Dickenson that I haven't seen any shanked punts by this group so far which is saying something through five days of training camp.
"They're pretty good. I've seen a couple," Dickenson laughed. "Of course I got a little more of a critical eye probably than you but they're doing a good job. We're working a lot on mechanics with all of them and we're really putting a lot on Quinn's plate. We'll probably have to pull back a little bit but for the most part the young guy's done well. And Josh and Tyler have had outstanding camps."
Meanwhile Sportsnet's Justin Dunk is reporting the #1 overall pick in the 2016 CFL Draft - offensive lineman Josiah St. John - has requested a trade from Saskatchewan.
As was reported here extensively last night, contract talks between the Roughriders and the Oklahoma Sooners product have reached a nasty impasse and no further negotiation is scheduled.
However Dunk reports that although St. John's camp has requested a trade, they have not received permission from the Roughriders to speak with other teams.
Stay tuned ...
Roughriders great Wayne Shaw has been a keen observer at training camp for several days this week. The member of the 1966 Grey Cup-winning Roughriders has been a long-time Saskatoon resident and always offers a sober assessment of the club.
"Well the only reality I can give, and I admire and respect the fans who are all positive and think the Riders are going to get to the Grey Cup this year but that's really fantasy thinking," Shaw cautioned. "If they can win half their games, it would be a minor miracle. And I'm not criticizing Jones. If he had Hughie Campbell as his Dad and could phone Hughie every once and awhile, he might, like Hughie's son Rick, have a contender right away.
"But it's going to take two or three years. Like there's only one guy on defense from last year isn't there? There's a lot of great players but you gotta get them playing together. So I think if they win five, six games this year, that would be quite good."
The following is the Day 5 report from the 2016 Roughrider Training Camp presented by Coors Light courtesy of the Riders PR staff:
International defensive back Victor Dean Jr. (6’4 – 210 – Portland State)
Did not participate:
Dylan Ainsworth (day-to-day)
Justin Capicciotti (day-to-day)
Marcus Davis (day-to-day)
Johnny Dixon (day-to-day)
Jeff Knox Jr. (day-to-day)
Eric Norwood (injured)
Jordan Reaves (day-to-day)
Matt Vonk (6 game injured list)
Xavier Walker (day-to-day)
The players hit the Griffiths Stadium turf for Day 5 of training camp for one two-hour session.
The practice was fast paced with a definite focus on game like situations. Time was spent red zone situations, last minute drives, and some intricacies within the CFL game.
PLAY OF THE DAY
Rookie returner Qudarius Ford brought the morning crowd alive with a long punt return touchdown that included impressive breakaway speed.
The defence rallied on the next series as defensive lineman Ino Vitale jumped to deflect a pass as fellow lineman Jonathan Newsome made a diving interception.
Players and coaches will hit the practice field at Griffiths Stadium for Day 6 for one practice session. The players will be on the field at 9:00AM with practice running until approximately 11:00AM.
GREEN & WHITE DAY
Green is the colour and football is the game! Watch the team scrimmage and practice as a full squad on Saturday, June 4th at SMF Field.
2pm – 4pm – Family tailgate party with special guests like Gainer the Gopher, the 620 CKRM Cheer Team and the Rider Drum Line.
4pm – Riders warmup/practice.
5pm – Mock Game – the 2016 Rider team takes the field for an approximately one-hour scrimmage.