|Vince Young (#8) started slow but finished strong on Day 1|
"I thought he did a real nice job,'' Jones said following the club's first day of mini-camp. "For the first time being on a CFL field, and we threw a lot at him ... I thought Vince had a good day.''
The spotlight is squarely upon Young, who's mounting a football comeback with the Roughriders. The 33-year-old, twice a Pro Bowl quarterback in the NFL, hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2011 and has been out of football since 2014.
And Young is attempting to come back playing Canadian football on a longer, wider surface with one less down and one more player on the field. But the six-foot-five, 232-pound former Texas star said his biggest adjustment was delivering the football on time.
"You've got to be on time with your balls, especially when you're going to the wide side of the field,'' he told reporters. "That goes back to your reads and progressions.
"I think that was the (biggest) thing, making sure when you throw those long balls know you can't put a lot of heat on it. You've got to get it out there because it's a long way.''
Young led Texas to 30-2 record over his three seasons as a starter, leading the school to a 41-38 victory over the USC Trojans in the 2006 Rose Bowl, which that year was the NCAA title game.
Young went in the first round, third overall, in the Tennessee Titans. After starting 13 games that season, he was named NFL's offensive rookie of the year.
Tennessee released Young in July of 2011. He had stints with the Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers and Cleveland before being released by the Browns in May 2014. He retired the following month.
Since then, Young worked at his alma mater while also doing television work for the Longhorn Network.
"I'm just happy to be here, hanging out and laughing with the guys,'' Young said. "A lot of guys gave me a lot of respect and the (defensive backs) were talking noise: 'We're going to pick you off, V.Y.'
"We're having a good time. I love that and I did miss that.''
However, Young feels he has to earn a spot at the Riders' training camp.
"Oh yeah, I've got to work,'' Young said. "And me, I don't mind doing that.
"My energy was good. The things I was doing at home, training and taking notes from coach, things he wanted me to work on actually paid off. Thank God I did them and paid attention.''
DAY 1 NOTEBOOK & OBSERVATIONS
- It was a good Day 1, as far as Day 1's usually go. With the two-a-day workouts stretching from 8:30 am to 12:45 pm, most players took turns dazzling while also committing the occasional gaffe. There were a lot of reps to be had.
- As far as the QB depth chart goes, at the beginning of the session, the order-of-appearance for quarterbacks was: Kevin Glenn, Brandon Bridge, Vince Young, Bryan Bennett and Jake Heaps. The reps were split pretty equally.
- According to Rider Head Coach & GM Chris Jones, Kevin Glenn led all QBs in completion percentage at 80%-plus followed by Vince Young. That's as much as he was willing to divulge about those stats.
- Kevin Glenn was clearly the top pivot on Day 1, which should come as no surprise for a 17-year veteran. Jones called Glenn's performance a "walk in the park". Glenn chuckled at that notion when he appeared live on the SportsCage, but agreed that he had a pretty good day.
- What struck me first about Vince Young was his sheer size and presence. At 6'5", 232 lbs, he's the largest quarterback I've ever seen live. He effortlessly tossed 40- and 50-yard passes and his feet and reflexes are lightning quick.
- For may of the young players, they were somewhat starstruck at taking the same field as an NFL veteran like Vince Young.
- Veteran QB Brandon Bridge didn't have his best day on Day 1, but no one seems too concerned. He's proven enough over his two years in the CFL to earn some credit in that regard. We'll see how he fares on Day 2.
- Jones revealed after the workout that veteran QB G.J. Kinne is no longer with the football club, thus explaining his absence from the minicamp roster.
- The receivers who stood out to me were #10 Antwane Grant (Western Kentucky), #83 Thomas Mayo (Cal-Penn), #6 Jenson Stoshak (Florida Atlantic) and #82 Mitchell Baines (Ottawa). Jones pointed out that Baines drew comparisons to CFL great Jason Clermont. They made several eyepopping grabs and Grant and Mayo became popular targets due to their ability to get open and hold onto the football.
- On defense, rookie DB #27 Zavian Bingham (Jackson St.) was the star of the day. He registered three interceptions and several knockdowns. He told Luc Mullinder on the Riderville.com post-practice livestream that he was ecstatic to have intercepted Vince Young!
- Rookie DB #21 Regis Ball (Memphis) was certainly the most noticeable player on the field, simply because he never stopped yapping from the beginning of the session until after the end. The younger brother of CFL veteran Marcus Ball drew comparisons to Dwight Anderson however when he had a chance at an interception off of a tipped pass, he dropped it.
- Ball delivered a forearm shiver to receiver #15 Frankie Wilms down the sidelines which drew a scolding from the coaches. "I didn't see it," said Kevin Glenn, "But I heard it". Ball responded with, "I'm just doing my job. I only play one way."
If his goal was to get noticed, he was successful.
- I didn't watch much of the linemen 1-on-1's but those who did were raving about the play of #97 Gary Wilkins (Furman). Vince Young noted, "I don't know #97's name, but I'm going to have to learn it." The former Oakland Raider was adept in pass coverage as well.
- DL #96 Greg Millhouse (Campbell) drew plaudits from Chris Jones for his work in 1-on-1's as well.
- There are less than half the number of players in this camp than there were in last year's minicamp. New CFL rules mandate a maximum of 35 players and all have to have been signed to a contract. That's to comply with the CFL rule that signed players can't compete against unsigned players.
- Day 2 workouts begin at 8:30 am ET/6:30 am Sask Time on Wednesday.
- We'll be broadcasting the SportsCage again live at 4;00 pm from Dodgertown on 620 CKRM.