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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

17 DAYS COMPLETE OF RIDER TRAINING CAMP


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.

Bryan Bennett
7 - Speaking of quarterbacks, for some reason Bryan Bennett seems to have lost his mojo. The Southeast Louisiana product was on a high after throwing three touchdowns in the mock game but took a big step back in the exhibition game by fumbling twice.

"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
9 - Regarding the wind at New Mosaic Stadium on Saturday night (out of the west at 30 km/h), Van Gylswyk said it was somewhat hard to gauge however it didn't pose any problems.

"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."

Marquise Williams
10 - Another very interesting story in this training camp involves rookie quarterback Marquise Williams from UNC (the alma mater of Darian Durant). He came into camp late and barely a week later he was called upon in Saturday's preseason came to march the field for a potentially game-winning drive. Starting at his own 16-yard line with 0:51 remaining, he got the Riders into position for the game-tying field goal.

"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
11 - What a shocker it was to have been invited to the Grand Opening VIP Night for Saskatoon's Taco Bell at the corner of 8th St. and Arlington Avenue on Tuesday (I used to live on Arlington 20 years ago).  Luc Mullinder and I were incredibly pleased to shove down THREE combos each and rub shoulders with Taco Bell execs from Toronto as well as members of the Saskatoon Blades and CTV Saskatoon's Jeremy Dodge.

Luc was particularly impressed because even his hometown of Toronto doesn't have a Taco Bell.

Follow my social media channels for photo and video of the event.

Thanks again for inviting us Taco Bell!

------

RP
@rodpedersen

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

10. It's a shame Darian Durant isn't around to mentor Marquise Williams.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Anonymous said...

Vince should be shown respect but the longer he stays around the longer everybody else is looking over their shoulders. The spectre of Vince Young remains & this leaves the QB situation as uncertain, like it or not. The kickers are a good situation & there could be a trade possibility for an actual real return, better than what we got for Durant. The Eastern teams all need kickers. There is a huge discrepancy between the kickers on the West clubs & the East. I think I see more potential in Wiliams than Bennett. He spent part of 2015 & all of 2016 with Winnipeg & the Bombers weren't in any rush to sign him. Practices are one thing - you're not being threatened by huge linemen. If you can't make it in pre-season against someone else's 1st stringers, that's something else again.

Dan said...

Hey wasnt williams final drive only the result of a huge 34 yard pass interference penalty ? How is that considered moving the ball in the final play? anybody can throw up a pass and get a flag .Its not like he was completing passes and moving the ball .

Anonymous said...

Hey Rod, Love your articles every morning. I cant wait to read them. Only wish they were longer. You have a good insight into the riders and the players. I wish you had more articles to read during the day too so I don't have to go to that stink hole 3downnation and listen to some of the blow hard stamp fans on there spout stupidity. One in particular.

Anonymous said...

Less talk about Vince Young and more info about the other players in camp. Honestly Young is just another guy trying out for the team. Take away the NFL stigma and he's an injured quarterback. If he makes the team good for him but he won't be the reason the Riders have a good or bad season. Chris Jones is slowly putting the team together that we need and things are looking much improved so far. Hopefully all the vets that are injured get to show their talents soon. Going to be an exciting season!

Rod Pedersen said...

I don't take requests on this blog. I'll write about what I want to write about. Thanks!



Doovy 49 said...

Will the Rider-BC preseason game be televised?

Anonymous said...

Durant was days away from free agency, Jones did a good job in getting something for him.
Rod do the sight lines from the new broadcast booth present any challenges? You are further from the field than the old stadium.

Anonymous said...

hey Rod, who are you responding to when you say you don't take requests? Which post?

CM said...

yes on TSN. Good to see VY get the respect he deserves. We're all pulling for him. Lets hope for the sake of VY, the team and the league he makes it back in 4-6 weeks. I think Williams was 5/6 on his drive which is pretty accurate even if they were underneath throws. Much better poise then Bennett. Bennett almost lost you the game.

Anonymous said...

Must read - THE BLAIR NECESSITIES by Mr. Mitchell Blair, Regina, Sk.

Bradford Kruger said...

Response to Dan:

Sure, getting up the field quick was on a PI. But if the ball wasn't close, the penalty likely wouldn't have been called. I also remember that he completed one more pass after the PI to set up the field goal a bit closer. In the end, the results are what matter.

If preseason had OT and the Riders had won, no one would remember that we got tied up because of a PI. They'd remember the win.


Anonymous said...

Why are you and Luc wearing Rider gear?? Are you employed by the riders?? or CKRM??

Rod Pedersen said...

Why do you care?

Dustin said...

Yup

Anonymous said...

Post 4

Anonymous said...

Hey Rod...great column as usual! Now that training camp is wrapped have you heard when the Riders can expect Cameron Judge to sign and report?

Anonymous said...

Put the clowns in their place Roddy! Some people just have to stir the pot....they should go back to their own sites Whaaampeders.com or Bloombers.com and worry about their own.

Anonymous said...

Love when Rod puts those ppl in their respective places. Sic em

Anonymous said...

Tremendous work the NFL does for it's young Canadian future fans.

Anonymous said...

First question - brown nosers.
Second question - CKRM employed.

JPR said...

Rod and Luc wearing Rider gear, oh my you are some kinda special. Go troll some place else.