DAY 1 NOTES AND CHAMBLIN QUOTES
BRADENTON, FL – As you can see by the photo above, the grass field for the Roughriders’ 2015 minicamp at the IMG Academy isn’t glamorous but it more than gets the job done. The facility offers as many pads, dummies and cones as the Riders need and paint the lines to CFL specifications. Here are some observations from Day 1:
- After weeks and months of planning this camp by the Rider football operations staff, you know once it began that it would go by in a blink. After Friday, the club is already 2/5 done.
- It was a steamy 28 degrees Celsius for the practices, but it seemed hotter.
- Everyone was clamouring for a Darian Durant update. The 10-year veteran pivot was the last off the team bus and everyone watched as he strolled in. Durant had equal reps with the other three quarterbacks (Tino Sunseri, Seth Doege and Brett Miller) in the morning workout but was given a reprieve in the shorter afternoon session.
- I don’t have any video of Durant passing to post, but it can be found on my Facebook page as well as Twitter feed @sportscage and Instagram: ridervoice. He seemed to throw effortlessly, and was pain free. Corey Chamblin offers an assessment below.
- Veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn is not in attendance this weekend due to a family commitment.
- The first players on the field were longsnapper Levi Steinhauer and the four punters in camp: Trey Barrow, Kyle Martens, Denton Kolodzinksi and Ray Early. Steinhauer’s snaps were in the 2.1-2.3 second range and he said he’s been able to snap pain-free since January. He tore a right pec muscle in the last year’s Labour Day Classic which finished his season.
- There were five running backs on Day 1 led by Steven Miller who saw some time near the end of last year after being cut by the NFL’s Detroit Lions. Incumbents Anthony Allen and Jerome Messam are expected to participate the rest of the weekend.
- There were six offensive linemen in the workouts including Levy Adcock and Matt Vonk. Veterans Dan Clark and Corey Watman will join on Saturday and they’ll battle this year for the starting centre job vacated by Dominic Picard.
- 32 minutes into the workout, Chamblin called for the first water break. That was followed by another 13 minutes later.
- In the first offensive 1-on-1 play, Tino Sunseri overthrew rookie Greg Hardin by 30 yards. It wasn’t immediately evident who was at fault there.
- There were a lot of incompletions early, including from Durant, but it didn’t last long. It became a day for the receivers.
- The prettiest pass completion of the morning was a 45-yarder from Durant to #84 Greg Hardin. In the second session, Hardin made the most remarkable circus catch of the day, catching a tipped pass from rookie Brett Smith.
- It seemed like Brett Smith (Wyoming) was having problems with the larger CFL ball (he dropped a snap and threw some wobblers) but when he was on, he displayed a great arm. He spent part of last season with the Argonauts so the balls aren’t new to him. Perhaps he was a victim of sweaty hands or slick balls.
- Deep completions highlighted the day including Smith for 60 yards to LaQuan Williams and Tino Sunseri 55 yards to Naaman Roosevelt over defender Qua Cox.
- I’m told Qua Cox is former Rider James Patrick’s brother. Cox played at Jackson State while J-P was a product of Stillman College.
- 27-year old receiver Naaman Roosevelt, a former Buffalo Bill, Cleveland Brown and Detroit Lion really caught my eye. He hauled in a deep one which caused linebacker Phillip Stewart to grown, “That was way too easy!”
- Corey Chamblin admitted he would lose his voice by the end of the day. He was extremely vocal, although mostly encouraging. He habitually screamed at the DBs, “Play the hands! Play the hands!’
- He also barked a reminder for players to run between plays, and not walk. George Cortez yelled the same thing last year. “You knew you were coming to camp!” Chamblin yelled. “Get in shape!”
- Another water break an hour and 11 minutes into the workout.
- The finished both practices with special teams work. Veteran ST Coordinator Bob Dyce was heared to say to the cover players, “Every punt needs to be returned!” The rookie Americans are used to the fair catch.
- In the afternoon’s skelly period, Durant was given it off. Tino Sunseri was first up, followed by Seth Doege and then Brett Smith. It seemed Sunseri was looking for Greg Hardin early on, but habitually found Naaman Roosevelt.
- Steve Miller, Alex Carroll and Cierre Wood auditioned on punt returns however the balls were thrown high in the air, rather than punted.
CC: Of course this is the first time they’ve all been together. We’ve seen them individually at FA camps and things like that. I thought it was pretty good the way the guys ran around. The coaches taught some things and the guys picked it up pretty good. Maybe not on the first rep, but it was all a positive progression. Each rep they got better.
CC: I think he’s passed the rehab stage. I think it’s one of those things to where we wanted to make sure the younger guys got a lot of reps in the AM and the PM. Darian will be heavy on reps the rest of the weekend. It’s not going to be guarded unless there’s fatigue for some other reason.
DID YOU CHECK IN WITH HIM YET?
CC: I did not. I’m passed the rehab stage with him. All I wanted to know is how he is with the new coaches and the new system. I checked with him on that and what he needs to change.
ON THE BACK-UP QBs
CC: I think it is a fresh start. With everyone one of them who’s come in, sometimes as a coach you have a pre-conceived notion but that’s not the case. With them it’s a fresh start. Jacques will look at them and he’ll make his thoughts. Same thing with defense and special teams. It’s exciting to see these guys start from ground zero and build it up.
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST HURDLE FOR ROOKIES?
CC: The coaches have done a real good job in explaining in the meetings. Now with the rule changes for the DBs, it isn’t too much of a hurdle now. With the kicking game, we showed video of the kick-out. There’s different things but as far as the one yard off the ball, I think we’ve done a good job of coaching that.
GREG HARDIN SAYS NO DB PUT A HAND ON HIM…
CC: He didn’t because they can’t touch him! He was pretty good. I spoke to another receiver and he said, ‘Coach I was pretty open all day!’. I said ‘Ya you today you were’. We’re over-cautious on not touching them but we’ll find a way around that to a point where we can put hands on them.
The Roughriders will be back on the field at 9:00 am Saskatchewan time on Saturday. We’ll have a special Saturday SportsCage show at 3:30 pm on 620 CKRM.