Friday, April 28, 2017
TO VINCE OR NOT TO VINCE
2 - The quarterback situation may not be at the top of the heap when it comes to pressing issues heading into the 2017 season, but it has to be close. And, judging by what went on at Dodgertown over the past three days, Chris Jones has to be feeling good about the most important position on the team. Kevin Glenn showed enough on Day 1 - a "walk in the park for him" as Jones put it - that he was pretty much shelved in the pass skeleton and 7-and-7 drills for the final two days in order to spread critical reps around to the other four pivots.
In short, it would seem as though this is Kevin Glenn's team right now however the stable behind him shows tremendous promise.
3 - As far as the depth chart goes coming out of camp, CKRM's Luc Mullinder rated them as follows: 1) Kevin Glenn, 2) Bryan Bennett, 3/4) A tie between Vince Young and Jake Heaps and, 5) Brandon Bridge. This assessment is from Luc's trained eye, but comes without the benefit of the analytics and passing stats that Jones and his staff are privy to.
Discuss as you see fit in the Comment section.
4 - Did Vince Young meet or beat expectations in this camp? That's hard to say since it's not clear what the expectations were. He certainly didn't embarrass himself (his passing completion percentage was in the 70's, second-best in camp), and he quickly shook off any rust which accumulated during his two seasons out of the game (his last action was on the Cleveland Browns practice roster in 2014). He was generally smooth, and his mechanics never left him. However the Texas grad gave himself a "C+", which leaves plenty of room for improvement.
That improvement will continue during main training camp in Saskatoon beginning May 28 as Chris Jones immediately stated after Thursday's practice that Young has earned enough to receive a camp invite.
5 - One trained camp observer with an NFL pedigree offered this evaluation of Young on Day 3. "He's shown here he possesses two of the three key ingredients to continue this comeback: physical ability and smarts. The third component is heart and desire. We'll find out over the next couple months where he is with that."
It's clear Young still carries the baggage of his track record of "lack of stick-to-it-iveness".
6 - One popular question from Rider Priders who followed our radio and online coverage from minicamp this week was, "How was Vince to deal with?" The truth is, he was nothing but first class. I don't know what he was like 10 years ago, but right now he's mature, friendly and incredibly professional. He signed every autograph, patiently conducted every interview, and carried out whatever was asked of him.
Daily I grew angrier with all the bad things that've been said about Young over the years, but I've only known him for six weeks. What happened in the past is in the past, and his story still may have a few more chapters left to write.
I've become a huge Vince Young fan.
7 - So how will this Vince Young story progress in Saskatoon? Who knows. I asked the Riders' John Murphy on 620 CKRM's SportsCage if Young will be content to be a back-up and his answer was, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it". It seems this is very much a day-by-day scenario right now.
Frankly - if Vince does open the CFL season as Kevin Glenn's back-up - I can hear the American commentators like Skip Bayliss and Stephen A. Smith already. "He was on the cover of Madden 08 and now he's a depth player in the CFL?"
But he doesn't care what they say. Never has. I can't put myself in Young's mind because we're worlds apart but if a back-up scenario is the opportunity presented, given the demeanour he displayed in Florida, I'd be surprised if he didn't stick around.
8 - Plenty of fans have asked what type of media attention the Vince Young tryout garnered. ESPN never sent a reporter but they got video highlights from the Riders and ran some stories. That's the way ESPN does things now. USA Today sent a reporter and ran a story as well, but it wasn't near the circus we anticipated.
9 - It wasn't hard to notice that this camp drew fewer onlookers than last year's camp at Dodgertown. There were some fans who came down from Regina, but like many of the locals who dropped by, they said they likely wouldn't come again. Fans expected live scrimmages but that just wasn't going to happen due to the small roster size.
The Roughriders weren't interested in putting on a show. They put their work in, conducted regular practices, and came away with what they wanted.
One funny note from Thursday was a pair of guys from Philadelphia who said they came to camp just to boo Vince Young!
10 - I misquoted Chris Jones on Twitter after Thursday's practice saying almost all players from the minicamp will be invited to Saskatoon. After listening back to the tape, Jones said the top three-quarters of the roster will earn invites.
Those decisions should be pretty easy to make after the amount of reps they've been able to review.
I asked Jones how any of these receivers could possibly crack the starting roster given the stable of receivers they already have and he replied, "Just be consistent, and show up when the lights come on."
What a great metaphor for success in life. Thanks Coach!
11 - We're still confused over CFL rules for these minicamps. The Riders felt they complied with regulations by inviting only 35 signed players, yet reports of the Tiger-Cats and Argonauts minicamps this week suggested those teams had 60 players on hand. What's the difference? We're not sure but it was suggested perhaps those clubs split the field in half and separated signed and unsigned players.
12 - The happening place in Vero Beach, FL on a Thursday night was TGIFriday's. That was just fine by me for two reasons: 1) That's about my speed these days and, 2) They were hosting an NFL Draft Party. Fans showed up in their jerseys from the Eagles, Buccaneers, Bears, Packers, Dolphins and Raiders. They had a blast watching Round 1 of the NFL Draft on the gigantic High-Def screen and it was a joy to witness.
It's a concept I've tried to bring to Regina with no success. Maybe in the future.
13 - One TV screen in the back of the joint was airing the Washington-Pittsburgh Stanley Cup Playoff game but there wasn't one person paying any attention other than me. I suppose it's tough to keep your mind on hockey when it's a sweltering 35 degrees Celsius outside.
However with ESPN's decision to axe hundreds of employees this week - including most of the network's NHL reporters - the mountain to notoriety for the NHL in America just got a whole lot higher.
Meanwhile I'm surprised today's Politically Correct crowd hasn't jumped all over Penguins announcer Mike Lange for one of his signature calls, "He beat him like a rented mule!" which he used again during last night's Game 1 against Washington.
I'm shocked the Animal Cruelty advocates haven't come after him for it, and I'm not even joking.
14 - That's not the case in Regina for the WHL's Pats however. Judging by social media posts in the Queen City over the past few days, people are going absolutely bonkers over the Pats. It really seems the city has come alive with signage all over town.
Friday's Game 5 sold out in five minutes and the Brandt Centre will be rocking as the Pats host Lethbridge at 7:00 with the Eastern Conference Final all tied up at 2-2. You can listen to the game on 620 CKRM - or watch on Access and Shaw - if you didn't get a ticket.
Some fans felt Wednesday's 6-2 Pats win tipped the series in their favour.
We shall see.
15 - I'm very much looking forward to Friday. After dropping Luc Mullinder off at the airport in West Palm Beach, I'll be headed down to Miami to catch the Marlins-Pirates MLB game before attending some meetings in the area on Saturday and returning home early Sunday morning.
As I write this, I'm listening to the waves crash up against the shore outside my hotel window and watching the NFL Draft on ESPN.
Life is very good.