Rider Round-Up: Training Camp Edition – Through Pictures

Well it only took me four days (due to other commitments) but I was finally able to take in Saskatchewan Roughrider training camp first-hand yesterday.

Here are some of my observations from a day at camp!

First and foremost I cannot get over the pace at which this camp is moving. Team reps were high intensity and very competitive. Head Coach Corey Chamblin’s message throughout his tenure has been to have a fast team. Well he has that as his troops pushed the paced throughout the workouts.

I’ve always loved the idea that knowledge is power. That’s exactly what the Roughriders are doing in the early stages of camp. The players and coaching staff converse regularly during drills to ensure that drills, techniques and plays are perfected.

Additionally, the Green and White have enlisted the help of local CFL official Tim Kroeker. The official, who worked last years Grey Cup in Vancouver, is on hand to help explain the new rules that are being introduced by the league this season. Additionally, he is providing valuable input to some of the international rookies that are learning the nuances of the Canadian game on the fly.

Tim Kroeker

Also observing camp in former B.C. Lions Head Coach Mike Benevides.

20150603_160312

The role of Benevides as defined by Head Coach Chamblin is that of a camp observer. He quietly watched over the day’s sessions and at various points provided some input to Coach C as well as General Manager Brendan Taman.

20150603_161701

Benevides also had the off-the-record line of the day. During the afternoon session he asked if the attendance was always this good for training camp practices. The Rider stafffer had to admit that it would actually be the least attended practice by Rider faithful during camp which garnered a raised eyebrow and impressed look from the former Lions Coach.

20150603_161130

Back on the field the battles intensified as the offensive and defensive lines went toe-to-toe in some individual and group blocking drills.

20150603_161126

It was very interesting to watch the competition between Dan Clark and Cory Watman. The two vets are vying to replace Dominic Picard and it was quite evident when one or the other felt they didn’t come out on top on their individual challenge. The dynamic between the two is a very curious one as the two team mates are vying for the same starting spot but at the same time they are also doing what they can to help each other out in grasping Jacques Chapdelaine’s offence.

Other competitions that caught my eye were:

Kickers. The handful of kickers all had an opportunity to shine punting and kicking the ball. Incumbent Chris Milo is being pushed by fellow veteran Hugh O’Neal, and some new comers that have really done a nice job both punting and kicking.

Running Back: Anthony Allen was again absent from the work-out and seemed very antsy to get back on the field. In his absence Jerome Messam was carrying the mail and looked quicker then last season. His passport makes him a very interesting option that the Riders can use in the backfield.

Quarterbacks: Darian Durant took a number of reps with the first team offence and seemed comfortable with what he was operating. He did have a conversation with Kroeker in what I am guessing has to do with the new rules for defensive backs and how he can better exploit their new challenges.

Receivers: I was impressed with the group as a whole. It will be interesting to see if Ryan Smith can take another step forward and elevate his spot on the depth chart to be with the ones. Additionally, rookie pass catcher Nick Demski is an amazing athlete. I saw him with the Manitoba Bisons last year and he looks perfectly in place at the professional level. He was also afforded a chance to show off some of his other athletic tools which I am sure will suit the Riders just fine.

Linebackers: I didn’t get a good look at the defense but there are definitely a lot of athletes wearing green. Shea Emry is the undisputed leader and his presence and leadership in the middle of the Rider D is going to be a big plus.

Secondary: This group will definitely had the most adjusting to do this year with the new CFL rules that will limit their physicality. A lot of work appeared to be done on the the technical aspect of their job. It was difficult to catch anyone standing out.

20150603_164559

At the end of the day Head Coach C and General Manager Brendan Taman are going to have some decisions to make as the pair have a good group of “young guys” pushing some of the vets.

The camp though, is more than just football as the team (as always) is going the extra mile to connect with the community of Saskatoon. From making a young fans day to kicking off a blood donating campaign the Riders are engaging the Saskatoon’s fans, which is a priority for the club.

Today the Riders take their show on the road heading to Prince Albert in what I am sure will be a popular visit.