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Thursday, June 1, 2017

RODSERVATIONS II

Beautiful Saskatoon
DAY 5 COMING UP

1 - Four days of Saskatchewan Roughriders 2017 Training Camp presented by Coors Light are behind us and things are starting to get very interesting. The usual "monotony" of two-a-days is nowhere near setting in, and perhaps it won't at all because there's just so much to analyze and breakdown. This camp has been a blast.

2 - Roughriders Assistant V.P. of Player Personnel John Murphy was good enough to spend an hour with us on Wednesday's SportsCage on 620 CKRM and he gladly fielded questions from the hosts and listeners. Here are some of the things he mentioned:

- Kevin Glenn has been in a class by himself as far as the quarterbacks go. He's been absolutely brilliant. Behind him however, the battle between Bryan Bennett, Brandon Bridge and Vince Young is dead-even.

- UNC grad Marquise Williams was added as a fifth quarterback and he's someone the Riders have tried to acquire for awhile (he's been on the negotiation lists of Montreal and Calgary). Williams broke two of Darian Durant's passing records with the Tar Heels and has a huge upside.

- Chris Jones said after Wednesday's practice that behind Kevin Glenn, Bryan Bennett is second in both completion percentage and accuracy according to their analytics.

- Murphy said the club is far ahead of where they were after Day 4 last year because early injuries to Chris Best, Justin Capicciotti and Jeff Knox Jr. in 2016 sunk their training camp right out of the gate. There haven't been any major injuries so far this time around - touch wood - and their depth has been built up to a point where they can withstand any such occurances.

Rookie WR Jenson Stoshak
- Punter Josh Bartel has been unable to participate so his chores have been handled by sophomore Quinn Van Gylswyk. A listener questioned why they'd keep Bartel at all since Van Gylswyk shows so much promise but Murphy stated Bartel was one of the best punters in the CFL last year in many categories, is beloved by his teammates and is a true "gamer". They're more than happy to wait for him to be ready.

- Murphy wasn't prepared to make any bold proclamations over how good this team is going to be this year just yet. He said he prefers to take a "conservative" approach, at least until after Saturday's mock game and the two preseason games to follow.

- Regarding the play of minicamp phenom Zavian Bingham, Murphy said this is a whole new world for the rookie out of Jackson State. The Florida camp was simply an exhibition of "pass and catch" or flag football where he was able to show off his ample coverage skills. However now that they're in pads and the vets are on the field, rookies like Bingham are now forced to "think" a lot more and it's posed a much bigger challenge. Still, there's plenty of time for everyone to show they belong, or don't belong.

- Rookie first round pick Cameron Judge - a linebacker from UCLA - will be in camp upon completion of his university final exams. He agreed to terms with the Riders earlier in the week.

3 - Sports Illustrated senior writer Greg Bishop headed home to Seattle on Wednesday and his feature on Vince Young is due to be published in the July 4 edition of the magazine. I have to wonder if Young will even be a Roughrider by then. After incremental improvement from Days 1 through 3, Young took a considerable step back on Day 4, being picked off several times. It was clear Vince was very angry with himself over his performance.

Murphy said they're nowhere near any conversations with Young regarding where he fits in on the QB depth chart, and they're content to wait until they have to cross that bridge in the weeks ahead.

Remember Young is the only true "rookie", by CFL standards, in training camp so he's behind the curve in that regard.

4 - As of Wednesday, the quarterback depth chart appeared to be Glenn, Bennett, Bridge, Young and Williams. However as has been noted several times, that group is shifting daily.

5 - The star of Day 4? Defensive back Sam Williams who registered at least two interceptions.

6 - Some veterans were nicked on Wednesday, including OG Brendon Labatte and DB Mike Edem however they didn't appear to be serious.

Duron Carter
7 - WR Duron Carter made the play of the day, hauling in a long touchdown pass from Bryan Bennett which drew a huge applause from the considerable crowd. I finally had a chance to talk with Carter after the workout and he was, as advertised, very talkative and personable.

The 26-year old said the 2017 Roughriders are the best team he's ever been on. "We've got the athletes! We've got the quarterbacks!" Carter squealed.

He was summoned to post-practice meetings with the other receivers but told a club official, "Hang on! I'm posing for photos!"

He is definitely a livewire, with considerable talents.

8 - However Carter's skills weren't enough to land him in the Top 10 CFL receivers as ranked by TSN SportsCentre's Derek Taylor. The list was unveiled Wednesday evening and they are 1) Manny Arcenaux 2) Adarius Bowman 3) Ernest Jackson 4) Brian Burnham 5) Davarus Daniels 6) Greg Ellingson 7) Marquay McDaniel 8) Terrence Tolliver 9) Naaman Roosevelt and 10) Brad Sinopoli.

I'm not sure what all variables Taylor used for his rankings, but he was busy defending his choices on Twitter to CFL fans all night.

It's going to give us plenty of fodder for discussion on Thursday's SportsCage.

9 - The Montreal Alouettes released a statement on Wednesday that quarterback Darian Durant's MRI  test turned up negative and his lower body injury isn't believed to be serious. He is still listed as day-to-day but I won't believe anything until I see him back on the field in training camp.

Many have asked my thoughts on Durant's injury (and how it relates to the off-season trade which shipped him out of Saskatchewan) but my only comment is that I hope he's back on the field ASAP. I'm just as big of a fan of Darian the "person" as much as the "player" and I hope for the best for him.

I've got the Week 1 battle between the Roughriders and Alouettes in Montreal billed up bigger than Super Bowl 52 in my mind so it would be a shame if Darian's not able to participate.

10 - Single game Rider tickets go on sale for the season on Thursday. To date, the Roughriders have sold over 25,500 season tickets which is very impressive but it also means there will be plenty of tickets available once they go on sale at 10:00 AM. Good luck!

11 - Finally it's been outstanding to be back in Saskatoon for another Roughriders training camp. It began with the front desk staff at the Holiday Inn Downtown greeting Luc and me with a "Welcome back!" when we got here on Sunday, and the hospitality has continued throughout the week.

When I walk the streets of downtown Saskatoon, many citizens have smiled and said, "Hi Rod!" each day.

It's a great, welcoming feeling.

However we're still devasted by the off-season fire at our favourite establishment Bonanza, and Luc and I will drop by the address this week to pay our proper respects. Our eating locales have been the Canadian Brewhouse (x2), Fuddruckers and Cactus Club. We'll be sure to drop by SportsCage sponsor Boston Pizza before all is said and done.

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OVER N' OUT
RP
@rodpedersen

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can't disagree with much of Derek Taylor's ratings. Truth is if you're looking at a comparable for Carter look no further tha Tolliver. His stats are very similar in his 2 years in the CFL to Carter - and they are both 6'5" and almost the exact same weight. Look it up. Despite the hype, Carter is at this point not an Arcenaux or Bowman. Maybe this is his breakout year. What Carter's done his last 2 years in the league is very much like Tolliver so if you believe Carter's the best then Tolliver is 1A. Again we have to look at things realistcally and take off the green goggles. Roosevelt deserves his standing so hopefully the coaches don't sacrifice some of his targets for Carter.

Anonymous said...

Good report Rod, thanks.

SWC

Anonymous said...

Cam Judge coming to camp anytime soon now that he's signed?

Rod Pedersen said...

Judge will be here when his school finals are completed.

Anonymous said...

http://www.narcity.com/regina/17-bucket-list-restaurants-need-try-saskatoon/

Anonymous said...

Rod didn't say Carter was the best. He simply alluded to him not making the Top 10. Stop trying to stir stuff up.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the SI column by Mr. Bush. Hope he made it out of Toontown after calling it a "College Town". Even though its an accurate description.

Anonymous said...

What are you his mom? That's precisely what Rod does and the point of this blog. Grow some skin son.

CM said...

Carters talent level is superior to everyone except Bowman. His performance hasn't matched but he hasn't had a good qb compared to Reilly either. Lets hope VY sticks with it and the coaches give him time. Practice is only practice. Rod - why wasn't Gale resigned? curious what the coaches didn't like about him.

Russell Cone said...

I really liked the food at Shoeless Joes. Might be a good spot to check.

I would also highly recommend Best Asia Buffet on Circle Drive and Quebec Avenue. Best fried chicken I've ever had.

I hope it's going for you Rod.



Russ from Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

Agree with Russ, Shoeless Joe's on Stonebridge is a good sports bar & has excellent food

Richard in Saskatoon

Anonymous said...

The "problem" with Saskatoon is which restaurant do you choose? Bonanza was a great place. You should try the old Bonanza building on Circle in the north end if Johnny Boy's is still going. I haven't been there in a couple years. Another gem is Tante Maria's.
LF

Anonymous said...

I hope we don't see too many major cuts before the game on the 10th. I love seeing all this talent in the pre-season game.

Anonymous said...

So all the hype is just that about Glenn & his training camp? Carter is better than anyone but Bowman but hasn't had the QB? Who was his QB last year - Glenn. The same Glenn that Carter says he was really happy got signed. I guess we should just look past stats & blame the QB. If you want to rank Carter among the best, you gotta have the stats - you don't get called the best on "promise". The CFL has seen a lot of players with "promise" come & go. The bottom line - Carter was a FA for a long time, even before 2016 was done. He finally signed with the Riders in 2017 at half his 2016 salary because no one in the NFL or CFL was all that interested. We'll see if Carter's past is behind him but he's still got the attitude. Time to back it up or shut up.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rod, it's great to get the daily analysis from you on training camp, thanks so much! Is it just me or is there a vibe about this camp and upcoming season like we haven't seen for a few years? I would be extremely comfortable with Kevin Glenn as our QB and it sounds like there will be some good backups. Really excited about this year!

Anonymous said...

Carter will be a great player for the riders..we are going 11-7 this year..go rush go..saskatchewans team

Anonymous said...

Duron Carter has been on a losing team. That really hurts any player's ranking.

Anonymous said...

Reverse that figure

Anonymous said...

Sorry but Roosevelt was ranked nine and came from a team with a worse record than Montreal. A players attitude and behaviour enters into the rankings, I'm sure. Don't forget that Carter was also released from a team with a losing record before the end of the season.