NOTES & QUOTES FROM SASKATOON
1 - There is a light at the end of the tunnel that is Saskatchewan Roughriders 2017 Training Camp presented by Coors Light. It would seem the daily grind is getting somewhat tense and the 90 or so players in camp are more-than-ready to get these proceedings over with and get the "real season" underway.
2 - Tuesday's workout was in pads, and very physical at times. Safety Mike Edem spent a good share of time with the 1's and wasn't afraid to "lay the wood". Perhaps too much so for some. Meanwhile defensive tackle Greg Milhouse Jr. and offensive lineman Eddie Meredith got in a short scrap which ended with Meredith on the ground receiving punches from Milhouse. It likely would've drawn a disqualification in a game.
"It's just camp stuff," shrugged Meredith when I asked him about it back at the facility.
3 - Tensions are high and the end is near. The final cuts are coming on Saturday and the players are beginning to closely examine where they may fit in when all is said and done. Friday's game in BC will tell the final tale and everyone knows it.
4 - Among those not participating on Tuesday where WR Rob Bagg, OG Brendon Labatte, OG Josiah St. John, KR Chad Owens, and of course, QB Vince Young. None of these are deemed serious by Head Coach & GM Chris Jones, other than Young's hamstring tear.
5 - And, with apologies to the other 90 players in camp, Vince Young is still what everyone's asking me about whether it's Rider fans at camp or friends back home who are lighting up my phone all day and all night long.
And conspiracy theories abound. Some wonder if this "comeback" was nothing more than a publicity gimmick for Young's businesses back in Texas, and if the hamstring injury is a ruse.
Regarding the publicity, it's definitely been a great move for Vince. He's become a household name across the continent again after many shuffled him to the back of their minds.
But regarding the injury, it's very much real. I first learned of the severity of the injury last week but Rider staffers wanted to let Chris Jones announce it to the world after Saturday's preseason game.
Reporters asked Jones if it's an "old man injury" but I really don't think it is. We all saw Young's workout videos in the spring and he made it through a gruelling minicamp in Florida in April. Then he made it through 10 days of training camp in Saskatoon before the muscle "popped".
Vince Young is a physical specimen at 34 years of age and there are players far older than him (Kevin Glenn) who are performing just fine.
It was a football injury, plain and simple.
6 - Now what happens next with Vince Young seems very much up in the air. As a "CFL rookie", we believe the Riders are legally able to release Young at the conclusion of camp but that doesn't seem to be an option which interests Jones. He's shown much respect to Vince given his stature in the game and an outright release would be a sad, disappointing end to this story.
Young has stayed in Saskatoon, diligently begun his rehab, mentored the other quarterbacks and even played around with Flag Football kids at SMF Field on Sunday. He didn't have to do any of this.
At every turn Young has said he's in this for the longhaul so it'll be very interesting to see how this all unfolds.
"I'm waiting for him to bounce back from that game," Jones said on Tuesday. "He's a tough kid. Nobody puts more pressure on him than him. He holds himself to a high standard and when you don't reach those standards some times, you start to press and he needs to just relax.
"Jarious has talked to him and I tried to pat him on the back. I'm looking forward to seeing how he comes out against BC. They play great defense over there and Wally will have them prepared."
Jones said he's already decided on a quarterback rotation for Friday's game but he's not prepared to announce it publicly just yet.
8 - If you've noticed, a delicious battle has unfolded in the kicking department with the Roughriders. 3-year veteran Tyler Crapigna proved his mettle last year by providing the Riders with a pair of walk-off victories and he was 2/2 in Saturday's exhibition game (with a missed PAT). Sophomore Quinn Van Gylswyk was 4/4 including the game-tying 37-yarder in the dying seconds, but he wasn't pleased with his punting average (34.5 net).
And then on Monday the Riders activated punter Josh Bartel for the first time in camp and he's displayed a lively leg this week.
Van Gylswyk is younger, and far cheaper, than the other two and he can perform all three duties but it's unlikely he'll be content to sit around on the Injured List for another year.
The Roughriders would likely prefer to keep them all, but that may not be possible.
Again, their showing Friday night in BC will go a long way towards settling those jobs.
|Van Gylswyk punting on Saturday|
"It swirled a little bit on the sidelines but it didn't feel like there was really any wind," QVG said after Tuesday's practice, "But then when you got in the middle of the field you could feel where the wind was going. It was a little different but I expected a lot worse.
"The old place was a wind tunnel. I think we had maybe three practices all of last year that didn't have wind. But it was great to have been able to play there, and I did in college, but it's different when you play for the Riders. We sell out every game and it's crazy."
"I felt like if I got my chance, I wanted to give 100%," Williams said on Tuesday. "I wanted the coaches to know that pressure isn't a big deal to me. I've played in some big time games. A CFL preseason game is a big deal too, but being a quarterback you have to be calm, cool and collected. By studying the playbook and doing the little things, I was ready and it wasn't a big deal. I just want to be great."
Williams' big games came with the North Carolina Tar Heels, the former school of Rider great Darian Durant. I asked Marquise what he knows about Darian.
"I know I broke all his records at UNC!" Williams puffed. "I also know he's got great character and is one of the hardest working players in the game. He took a lot of beatings. The coach who recruited me said, 'You're a tough cookie, just like Darian Durant'. Darian was excited for me to sign here. And a lot of people love Darian Durant down there. I may have broke his records but he's still The Man down there."
|Run For The Border|
Luc was particularly impressed because even his hometown of Toronto doesn't have a Taco Bell.
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Thanks again for inviting us Taco Bell!