Wednesday, February 22, 2017
MURPHY ON BUILDING THE RIDERS, AND RECEIVERS
The Rider Nation has been buzzing over the club's ever-growing stable of receivers which was increased by Tuesday's signing of Bakari Grant. He joins Rob Bagg, Kadron Boone, Duron Carter, Ricky Collins, Joe Craig, Nic Demski, Armanti Edwards, Caleb Holley, Thomas Mayo, Chad Owens, Naaman Roosevelt and Joshua Stanford as receivers all under contract.
Many fans are wondering if the Riders are acquiring assets with the notion of building an attractive trade package.
"I think you can say that, but you always have to look at what other clubs have been through, one or two injuries was critical in changing how certain teams' passing games looked from the beginning of the season to the end," Murphy said. "You can look around the league and see where that happened. Knowing that we have Naaman Roosevelt coming back, and what would having him healthy down the stretch have meant last season? Had we not been able to find Caleb Holley and Ricky Collins and have that support behind us, I think it's something to be very wary of. The minute you think you're healthy at one position, you'd better have a fifth and sixth guy that can compete along side your top four. You could have success early on but if somebody goes down and you don't have someone ready to go, you're in trouble.
"Caleb Holley was a rookie, Ricky Collins was a rookie. If you let Bakari Grant compete with those kids, it makes everybody better. He's tough as nails, he doesn't mind playing special teams, doesn't mind blocking, can run routes from every position on the field, and if your young guys get beat out a guy like that, they'll be better players for having competed against a guy like that.
"To give Ricky Collins the chance to return - and have him learn from a guy like Chad Owens - and have them be the yin and yang on a weekly basis, means your return game should be up to snuff. You heard Chris Jones say it the other day; our return game was several yards behind other teams last year. That's change of possession, that's making a big play to change momentum, and that's something we need to improve on.
"If you look at our roster last year, we didn't always have the ability to dress the best 44 guys and that's something where you can't afford to go into a game not having offensive players playing special teams or a defensive player who's only on the field if there's an injury. You have to spread your reps around and last year we had three or four guys last year who were repping 70-80 plays a week. They had a downslide in the second half of the season.
"The closer you are to having all 44 guys competing to play on a weekly basis, the better your chance is to compete all the way through the season. We had a lot of opportunities - even with the things that went on last year - to finish games in the fourth quarter. A lot of these guys that you're seeing now come from winning programs, have won a lot in their career, and make that tough catch, block or make that game-winning touchdown.
"That'll play well with our young guys. We'll have 20-odd guys that are in their 20's coming to camp. It's not a bad thing to insulate them with veterans who've been with teams who were perennial contenders. They'll show the young guys those jobs aren't guaranteed, and might even like to have those jobs for themselves."
*We are into Week 2 of CFL Free Agency and Murphy said they may not be done with their signings just yet. He said they're in the "kicking tires" stage with several free agents.