In an effort to cut down on travel time, the Roughriders moved their Wednesday practice to the grass practice field adjacent to Taylor Field. The club enjoyed its workouts at Leibel Field at Douglas Park this week, but Head Coach Chris Jones felt moving practice across Elphinstone St. shaved 40 minutes off their day.
The Riders practiced on the grass field daily up until 2007 when FieldTurf was installed at old Mosaic Stadium. They've only worked out on the grass on special occasions since.
|Fans enjoy Wednesday's Rider practice|
"It is what it is," Owens said of the waiting game. "Every guy out here is the ultimate competitor and feels he can contribute and help. It's just the situation that I'm in and I'm not the only one. How you handle the situations you're dealt defines you and shows your character. You know what? I'm just here to help in any way I can and make this team better. We have a lot of talent on this team. It's an exciting time."
The only ones more anxious for Owens to get on the field are Rider fans themselves. They're eagerly asking the 2012 CFL Most Outstanding Player when he'll suit up in Green & White for the first time.
"That's the one thing," Owens smiled. "Everywhere I go, whether it's on social media or at Safeway - like yesterday - people are asking when I'll be back. They're anxious and that makes you feel great as a player. You want to go out and do it for the fans, especially here. We've got the best fans in the league.
"The game days here are amazing. I definitely want to experience it within the lines instead of outside of them. That day will come and hopefully there will be a lot of Rider fans on their feet."
Despite his lack of playing time, the "Flyin' Hawaiin" has enjoyed every second of being a Roughrider.
"I've ran into Rider fans in Hawaii, multiple times," Owens continued. "They are everywhere and it's great. I tell a lot of these young guys that we're very fortunate. I'm not sure they understand what some other organizations in this league are going through with their fanbase and their facility.
"To have this, as a rookie, to have this facility and this support, you expect it as a pro, right? But for whatever reasons in other markets it doesn't compare. It's just great to be somewhere you're loved and this is all that matters."
The dismantling of Taylor Field
After labeling Monday's Day 1 practice as "not very good", Roughriders Head Coach & GM Chris Jones said Tuesday's closed workout was "just okay" and Wednesday's session was "much better".
I asked Jones if there's any correlation between a good - or bad - practice week and the team's performance in the games.
"No. Just about the time you think that you've practiced really good and you're all prepared, you go out and play the worst," Jones offered. "I'll be honest with you, the Calgary week, I thought we practiced really well coming off the bye and then we didn't execute.
"Sometimes it's exactly the opposite. You have a terrible Day 2 and Day 3 and think we may get smoked and end up playing well. It's pro football. It comes down to executing in the game."
The 3-4 Riders will have their hands full with the 7-1 Eskimos and quarterback Mike Reilly, who leads the CFL in its new Quarterback Rating stat.
"We talked about it this morning," Jones revealed. "Regardless of what blitz or front that we run, we have to know where Mike Reilly is at all times. You can't give him second and third opportunities. You have to get to him. We have to know where he is and get him on the ground."
Reilly is generally being referred to as the CFL's best player given his exploits this season, and Jones knows him well after coaching him in 2015 and 2016 in Edmonton.
"He manages the game well," Jones said. "His heartbeat's very slow. He can manage the clock so well. At the end of the game when the game is tight and there's only a few seconds to go, his heartbeat is the same as it is early in the game. He's just a tremendous competitor."
The Riders will depart for Edmonton on Thursday afternoon.