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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

HEADING TO B.C.


THAT'S A WRAP

1 - The Saskatchewan Roughriders' final full practice of 2017 Training Camp presented by Coors Light was a padless, spirited affair held under an overcast sky at Saskatoon's SMF Field on a cool Wednesday morning. The monotony is over, and excitement is in the air.

"The guys knew that's the last time," said Roughriders Head Coach & GM Chris Jones. "We've got walk-through on Thursday, then we go play, and then camp's over. It's been a quick two weeks and the time's flew by. The guys are excited to go play. We got 18 or 19 guys in the training room unfortunately, and they won't be going, but the group that we take's going to have a good time and play hard."

Of course training camp doesn't officially break until after Friday's game and the final cuts are made on Saturday. Then, the team heads home to Regina and camp will officially be over.

2 - The coach was in good spirits and admitted that some veterans have already locked down their starting spots however there are plenty of jobs still up for grabs and that'll be determined Friday night at BC (8:00 pm, TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network). It's clear that Jones wasn't interested in disclosing which jobs he's alluding to, but if you've followed camp closely enough, you know.

Jeff Hecht and Mike Edem have rotated at the Safety position with the 1's and their performance against the Lions will tell that tale. The same goes for rotating tailbacks Cameron Marshall and Anthony Allen. Rookie Mark Roberts looks to start a second straight game at field corner, with Crezdan Butler lining up beside him at halfback. However they won't play all of the game there.

There are linebacker spots wide open (Henoc Muamba, Erick Dargan and Sam Williams were with the 1's) but Glenn Love is nipping at their heels and will see action in Vancouver. There's a wealth of talent on the defensive line including Eddie Steele, Toby Antigha, Willie Jefferson and Zach Minter. but Canadians Linden Gaydosh and Makana Henry will get a good look as well. Don't forget the ratio doesn't come into play in the preseason.


3 - The list of injured players really is a Who's Who and we got our first look at them on Wednesday when they came out to stretch with Strength & Conditioning Coach Clinton Spencer during practice. The list includes Vince Young, Brendon Labatte, Rob Bagg, Jonathan Newsome, Chad Owens and Josiah St. John. Jones maintains that none of the injuries are serious, and that they simply wanted to get the players active with Clinton.

Young (with headphones) stretches on Wednesday
4 - Vince Young rolled his eyes at us reporters who scurried down to the endzone to snap pics of him stretching with his teammates.

"Man," Young groaned. "I can't even get out here for a stretch without the cameras showing up."

Such is the life of a football star. It's the way it is, and the way it's going to be as long as this comeback continues.

There are parts of my job I don't like either!

Acceptance is key.

5 - Chris Jones made an impromptu visit on 620 CKRM's SportsCage on Wednesday afternoon in the press box at Griffiths Stadium. It was a nice gesture by the Riders, and a great chance to get Jones to open up without seven other microphones in his face like he deals with daily after practice.

With the passing of Don Mathews on Wednesday, I knew that Jones had a close relationship with The Don and he hadn't yet been asked about it by the local media.

Jones got choked up when discussing Mathews, saying he'd called him in the hospital but the legendary coach was unable to speak and his wife did the talking for him.

The entire story of Mathews' and Jones' relationship - and the Rider coach's appearance on the SportsCage - was summed up magnificently by Riderville's Ian Hamilton here.

6 - We asked Jones very few football questions during his time on the SportsCage but I did ask about the status of #2 overall draft pick Cameron Judge. The non-import linebacker from UCLA has yet to appear at Rider training camp after agreeing to contract terms two weeks ago, but Jones revealed Judge will join the team in Vancouver for Friday's game and is expected to be in Regina shortly thereafter.

7 - One position we haven't examined nearly closely enough is the defensive line but I interviewed position coach Ed Philion about it this week and he said they are miles ahead of where they were last year. The personnel is largely the same, but they're another year into this system and that's what has him so optimistic. A.C. Leonard, Ese Mrabure, Makana Henry, Willie Jefferson and Jonathan Newsome were around last year while Eddie Steele played in this scheme in Edmonton. Philion is particularly enthused about the addition of Zach Minter, and said Linden Gaydosh has fit in well too. Good things are anticipated from this group in 2017.


8 - We still don't know what the quarterback rotation will be for Friday's game but if past years are any indication, #1 pivot Kevin Glenn will get at least a half. However I won't go out on a limb by predicting who appears next because I was wrong with last week's prediction of Bryan Bennett starting. You'll have to tune in to find out!

9 - The Lions are eagerly anticipating Friday's game too. They fell 23-18 in Calgary last Tuesday and want to establish themselves on home turf as a dominant club in the CFL West.

"We're not treating it like an exhibition game," said Lions Head Coach & GM Wally Buono this week. "We want to win the game. Playing at home is about winning and you have to start Friday night. You have to start setting the mindset, not only for our own team because that's critical, but also for teams that come into B.C. Place. It's going to be a loud place, a tough place, and you want to come out with wins."

10 - The Roughriders are the hottest ticket in the CFL according to Stubhub. The ticket reselling giant released stats on Thursday morning revealed the top three "in demand" teams for tickets this season are 1) Saskatchewan 2) Ottawa and 3) Toronto.

Additionally the top three in demand games in the entire  CFL this year are 1) The Riders home-opener 2) July 8 Hamilton at Saskatchewan and 3) The Labour Day Classic in  Saskatchewan.

11 - Rider fans in Saskatoon continue to follow this team very closely. I'm in the same 7/11 every afternoon - picking up a Double Gulp of Diet Coke before every edition of the SportsCage - and there's always a fan quick with a comment. "Are you ready to get home?" chuckled one Saskatoon businessman on Wednesday.

The truth is, not really. We've been treated like kings for three weeks and it's my hope that training camp is held in the Bridge City for many, many years to come. It's imperative for the provincial branding of this team that they spend as much time here as possible. You can tell these fans are very appreciative of it.

Having said that, the Riders' first official practice in New Mosaic Stadium will be on Monday morning and the session will be open to the fans. Keep following the Rider's official Twitter feed for details on the club's Week 1 practice schedule!

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TALK TO YOU FROM VANCOUVER, 
RP
@rodpedersen
IG: rodpedersenofficial
SC: Pedersenmedia

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rod,

any chance ryan pollack can become a regular on the cage. he always talks intelligently and gives a fair insight in and around the team. i heard him on the show a few times and think he gets more and more comfortable.

the chris jones interview was excellent. this guy is going to grown on this province. especially after a few wins.

enjoy bc

Anonymous said...

another great read written by Pedersen.

Anonymous said...


Riders can stay in Regina for camp. Saskatoon has its own pro team now and they have no desire to do anything here.

Anonymous said...

Any news on a new Commish for the league? Looks like today is officially Orridge's last da. Wy.

RiderPrider said...

Those Stubhub stats certainly paint the Riders in a good light, but can we really trust any of them if Stubhub is saying that the Argos are the #3 in demand team for tickets this season?! LOL

Anonymous said...

Ya, I'm curious about the definition of the "Top in demand teams." Ottawa is understandable...I'm guessing TO gets up there because there's alot of fans of other teams that will travel to BMO for a game.

Anonymous said...

HEADING TO BC,
Very informative up to date well written article, thanx Mr. Pedersen.

@mrt_man said...

If Bennet has been the gunslinger in camp, maybe they start him, ad he wild seem to have the most to gain or lose of the qb bunch. How much does KG really need to play anyway?

Anonymous said...

Anon #3..S'toon has its own pro team? Semi-pro at best. No different than a highway hockey league team. No one on the roster lives there and they all disperse after each game and go back to their full-time jobs wherever they may be. Although the CFL may not be the top professional league in North America, even its lowest salary is a FULL-TIME salary that you can live on if you so choose. Anything less is, as previously mentioned, semi-pro.

Anonymous said...

Don't be sayin Saskatoon has it's own pro team. They players don't live in the community and can't because get paid next to nothing. It's a beer league.

Anonymous said...

Well we'll all you stoon haters, nobody outside of Regina gives a crap about semi pro football, shame on our govt for building a white elephant stadium that will be empty when the CFL folds in a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

You, my friend, need some serious counselling.

Anonymous said...

Hey saskatoon how are your rush feeling after the choke job in the championship