Day 1 Training Camp thoughts

Thoughts from Day 1 of training camp. Early but this is what I saw.

The rookie standouts,

Brett Smith, looked very good out there. Calm, composed, nice tight spirals and good decision making. Has some mobility as well.

Nic Demski has some nice speed and already seems to have some chemistry with our QB's (maybe even good enough to see a lot of playing time this year).

The vets,

DD looked shaky, didn't see him attempt to stretch the D much but hustled out of the pocket when it was closing.

Kevin Glenn, probably the most impressive of the QB's today, nice throws, can still stretch the D and has good reads. DD and him seem to be bonding fast.

Tino..... dressed in sweats (or track suit) bottoms. Every single one of his throws were either well over thrown or had the receivers twisting their bodies to catch on the opposite side. More times than not, well behind the receiver and at the end of their route. Never moved out of the pocket and would have been lunch meat for Chick a few times. By far the least impressive of all the QB's. He better get his act together if he wants to stay in the lineup.

Dressler was Dressler (still has to be first in line in drills like a little kid).

Getz looked like he had the dropsies, Taj was unimpressive, Little Ryan Smith looked a lot more comfortable than he did last year and had some nice plays. Bagg looked fine.

The kickers...

Just saw them working on punts today. Duck Dynasty O'Neil had some good boots but was fairly inconsistent, poor placement. Things only got worse when they switched to punting into the wind. After a punt that went about 25 yards up and 9 yards ahead they saw enough.

Milo took some OK punts, 40-45 yards (wind assisted) but no height on them at all. Flew like SCUD missiles.

Ray Early....... HOLY CRAP! Now that guy can punt. Sure they were wind assisted but he was consistently booting him from his own 30 all the way down to the opposite goal line. Had the kick returners running backwards all day. Tons of hang time.
Had the crowd in awe on every punt and was returned with the loudest applause of the day.

Didn't pay much attention to D this practice as they ran drills for most of the session.

I gotta say that I'm a bit concerned that we really only have 4 QB's in camp (not counting Noah Picton as one as he is there just for mentorship).

thank-you for the reading =) any news i can get out of camp is gold. ( plus means its much sooner till kickoff on tsn :rockin: )

I forgot to mention that Messam looked really good today. Definitely in shape this year for the season and could contend for the #1 spot.

The import kicker looked impressive. I would say there is a new kicker in town. They only punted that I saw, and a coach mentioned to me that punting was not his strong point, yet he was well out punting everyone. Big time air and for sure 10-15 yards more on average in distance. Couldn't really comment on placement.

The O looked plain bad. Fairly normal...the O generally starts off poorly and with the pretty stiff and gusty wind you could tell all QBs struggled with it. Combine that with a new OC...fine...give it time. Glenn looked by far the best. Tino looked stiff. Deanjo nailed it...if this was contact he would have been toast. I have never been a Tino fan and today it was just like "ugg...MOVE" but he just took the snap, dropped 2-3 and chucked in hoping it would stick....usually making his target contort into awkward positions rotating back that would get someone injured in a game...BAD. DD may have put some dents in the ground short of his targets BUT he was mobile at times. Again...day one rust is hard to shake off in the wind. Clark looked hands down the best on the OL and Watman was PUMPED in drills...MACHINE

I thought Messam came in pretty darned good shape compared to when he showed up last season. He is there to compete for sure. Both he and Allen showed explosiveness I didn't see from them last season. Not sure if the new back they signed even dressed...didn't notice him.

While the D did a solid job covering guys, Roosevelt was the one guy who seemed to manage to get separation pretty consistently AND catch some. LOTS......LOOOOOOTS of drops out there today by a lot of guys...day one is over.,..they better show up because it is a competition...frankly, Roosevelt and Demski seemed the only ones to remember that today. Jamal ran some good routes, but I was concerned with how much attention he gave his leg. Won't read too much into it because it is only day one and guys are just starting to loosen up properly.

Really seems like they want to rotate a National in as DT. Lots of rotations and attention there. No pads so it is hard to say how good they truly looked, but there were a couple National guys working over X! With the departure of Foley I have wondered if it might mean they go towards rotating in a DT again...if so that could mean a move on Ainsworth or Steinhauer. Wellman was the only LB that really stood out to me. It seemed clear he knows he has to play at another level if he plans on getting in behind Emry. He looked REALLY good and REALLY fast. Again...we shall see when geared up. No LBs really stood out on the outside for the good or the bad. I watched Freeman a fair bit as well as I believe Knox. I have some concerns on the edge. Then again, CFL is new to them, so we shall see...they didn't seem to be in the mix as much as one hopes. Didn't actually notice TBrack and where he was playing. Not sure I actually recall seeing him...surely I did and was just more looking at others...he will be a rock wherever he plays. Can't wait to see Brandon Tennant play full out! Rotating a NI would be massive.

Just saw Pedersen's take is up:

1 - THE CONDITIONS: 2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp opened Sunday in Saskatoon amid 23 degree Celsius temperatures and 35 km/h winds out of the southeast. The club held an hour long walk-through for their morning session and a roughly two hour practice (no pads) in the afternoon.

2 - HAPPY NEW YEAR: It was all smiles around as the full club got together for the first time since the conclusion of the 2014 campaign. There was a lot of back-slapping with the new season upon us. The Roughriders' American scouts are in attendance too, including Ron Salesky and Ted Montgomery.

3 - CAMP FACTS: The tallest player in camp is a tie between REC Evan Turkenton, OT Levy Adcock and DL Ryan Wellman (6'6") while the smallest are REC Weston Dressler and RB Steven Miller (5'7"). The heaviest player is OG Gord Hinse (320 lbs) while the lightest is QB Noah Picton (165 lbs). Picton is listed as 5'9". The Riders' training camp report says 91 players are in camp.

4 - DARIAN'S BACK-UP: I've been saying all spring that one of the most interesting battles in training camp and the preseason will be who's the #2 quarterback behind Darian Durant: Kevin Glenn or Tino Sunseri? Based on the reps on Sunday, Glenn is the clearcut #2. However no one else seems too concerned.

"I don't see a need to be concerned about the pecking order," offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine said Sunday. "Certainly we understand Darian is our #1 guy. We understand he needs to get the work with the starters and Kevin understands what his role is."

5 - DOUBLE D IN THE GROOVE: As far as Durant and the offense goes, there's considerable rust that needs to be knocked off however it was only Day 1. There were some passes in the dirt and a few others that sailed away (from all quarterbacks), and perhaps the wind affected that too.

"I feel good," Durant smiled. "Nothing's changed since Florida. If anything, I think I've gotten stronger. The elbow feels a little bit better. I'm just anxious to get out here this afternoon and put it to work. Especially in this wind."

6 - DAY 1 OBSERVATIONS: Roughly 100 fans turned out for the morning walk-through and although there wasn't much action, the fans seemed generally enthused to see their beloved players once again. However the stands were fuller for the afternoon session.

  • Veteran centre Dan Clark worked with the first group on the offensive line on Day 1. He appeared to do a great job and will benefit from the tutelage of guest coach Angus Reid who was a brawler and a battler during his CFL career with the B.C. Lions. Former first round pick Corey Watman will have other ideas however, and he was nothing short of ferocious in one-on-ones. Never mind a penalty - he could've been charged with assault. I was actually surprised a fight didn't break out.

  • The first injury was #42 linebacker Phillip Steward (Houston) who left the field with medical staff however returned later in the workout.

  • It's no surprise who the first group of receivers were: Bagg-Getzlaf-Dressler-Richardson-T. Smith and the running back was Jerome Messam. Although head coach Corey Chamblin said after the morning workout that he expects Jamel Richardson to participate at full speed, he moved gingerly in the afternoon. He's recovering from a leg injury which has kept him out since 2013 but perhaps it's more mental than physical.

  • There's certainly an adequte stable of receivers to fill in if Richardson can't go. The second group included Alex Pierczalski, Alex Anthony, Ryan Smith, Devin Wilson and Korey Williams with the tailback being Anthony Allen. Alex Anthony had a nice day, even if he didn't have a lot of balls thrown his way. He certainly seemed to have his placing down pat.

  • The third group of ball-catchers included Greg Hardin, Naaman Roosevelt, Scott McHenry, Nic Demski and Alex Carroll. Roosevelt made some nice grabs while Demski was victimized by a glaring drop. Roosevelt ran the wrong route on one play, looking back at Darian Durant and smacking himself on the helmet with both hands.

  • The fourth group included Melvin Abankwah, Roosevelt, Preston Bews, Eric Thomas and Ryan Smith. The first turnover of the day was a forced fumble from Eric Thomas by DB Marshay Green.

  • Veteran defensive tackle Tearrius George cut into the backfield like a hot knife through butter in drills. He seems ready to pick up where he left off from his 2014 All-Star campaign.

  • 2015 draft pick Rory Connop - son of Eskimos legend Rod Connop - saw some work with the 1's on the interior of the defensive line.

  • The Riders should lead the CFL in sacks again in 2015. With the likes of John Chick, T. George and Alex Hall, CFL offensive linemen will be seeing them in their nightmares. Hall, who led the CFL in sacks in 2013, spent last year with the NFL's Carolina Panthers and was an unheralded addition by the Green & White this off-season.

"That's what everybody's said!" Hall laughed. "That's all I've been getting the whole time, that it's a surprise. I've always been a bit of an under-the-radar guy. You never know when I might pop up."

That includes in QBs' faces. Incidentally, Hall has changed his number from 99 to 0.

  • Newly-signed CFL veteran defensive lineman #94 Cameron Sheffield joined the team on Sunday and saw some good work with the first unit. He played in 10 games with the Eskimos last year.

Kevin Glenn follows a pass

  • Illinois State product Kevin Glenn is back for a 15th CFL training camp after originally joining the Roughriders in 2001 as a Roy Shivers' find. In the time since, he's worked his way into the Top 10 of all-time CFL passing leaders. He's also become a restaurateur, but prefers to prolong his pro football career for as long as possible. There's plenty of time to run his Tim Hortons. As usual, Kevin showed poise on Sunday and was calm, cool and collected. He can effortlessly still zing the ball 40 yards downfield with a flick of the wrist. It's great to have him back in Green & White and again, should something happen to Darian Durant, it appears he'll be the first tapped to go in.

  • Quarterback apprentice Noah Picton saw limited reps but in his first pass attempt in half-skelly, it was intercepted by #30 Jeremy Gray (North Carolina).

  • There's a job open at outside linebacker with the departure of Brian Peters to the NFL and newcomers Eltoro Freeman (Auburn) and Telvion Clark (Towson) saw work with the 1's. Freeman is very vocal, an onfield leader, and isn't afraid to ask questions of his coaches. He'll be heard from before all is said and done. Chamblin said Freeman's a guy who "can play linebacker but runs like a safety."

  • Luc Mullinder and I watched most of the afternoon workout from the press box and during punting situations, we continually heard loud "Oooos and ahhhs" from the crowd. We wondered what the heck they were cheering but it was the booming punts by kicker Ray Early who was officially signed on Sunday. They were routinely 50-plus yards, aided by the wind.

  • Newcomer Hugh O'Neill, a CFL veteran and placekicking specialist, boomed his first punt out of bounds and was victimized by the strong winds once they flipped the other direction. One has to wonder where he'll fit in when all is said and done.

#17 Hugh O'Neill, amidst kickers Denton Kolodzinksi and Ray Early

  • The Riders have an embarrassment of riches in terms of punt returners. There was a large group back there including Weston Dressler, Alex Carroll, Korey Williams, Melvin Abankway, Tristan Jackson, Ryan Smith, Steven Miller and Korey Williams.

  • I mentioned after the rookie camp that the speed of the defensive backs was abundantly evident. That increased on Sunday when the veterans got onto the field, knowing the proper angles to take on the wide field. And they didn't take too kindly to watching from the sidelines while the rookies got reps. "Hey I need some work!" Macho Harris bellowed to secondary coach Tony Missick. 2014 Rider interceptions leader Mark Legree chimed in with, "Ya I need to eat!"

  • Canadians Keenan McDougall and Matt Webster saw some work in the secondary. Webster seems to be a little more limber.

  • New defensive coordinator Greg Quick is doing plenty of coaching in his Foghorn Leghorn style. "DON'T grab his jersey!" Quick yelled. "Did I stutter?"

  • At the conclusion of the workout with the team gathered at midfield, Chamblin was overheard telling the players to "LEARN YOUR PLAYBOOK!" and to "GET YOUR A$$ MOVING!"

  • The Riders will be back on the field Monday morning at 8:30 am for a two hour workout.


7 - THE REAPER IS BACK: Although not with the Roughriders. 2014 Plaza of Honor inductee Reggie "The Reaper" Hunt was named as a guest coach at Calgary Stampeders training camp on Sunday. Reggie's been coaching high school football in his hometown of Denison, Texas, just outside Dallas. Rider fans reacted on social media that they're happy Reggie's back in Canada, but bemoaned the fact it's not in Saskatchewan.

8 - ROUGHRIDER COVERAGE: Former Rider defensive lineman Luc Mullinder is with me in Saskatoon and we'll be broadcasting the SportsCage live on 620 CKRM each day at 4:00 pm from training camp from the press box ... In The Huddle on Access 7 will air its season premiere episode NEXT Tuesday, on June 9 from Griffith's Stadium at 7:00 pm.

As good of a writeup as Pedersen's was...I think Mullinder's was even better:

Sunday, 31 May 2015
A Look Into Day 1

To be honest, I thought the live practise today went exactly the way it should have gone considering all the different moving parts that exist right now for the 2015 Saskatchewan Roughriders. Things were very slow and uncertain at times, with plenty of plays being left out there on the field, and a smattering of substitution lapses amongst the personnel groupings on both sides of the ball. One could tell right from when the team got moving with their stretch period that the guys had a lot on their minds, because it was oddly quiet for the first day out.

If there was a word of the day today, it would have been ‘LEARNING’ and that’s perfectly fine, it’s what this team is going to need to do, and quickly. There’s so many new faces and different positions that need to be addressed, that this team was never going to fire out of the gate and look like unstoppable on DAY 1. As long as the coaching staff doesn’t allow the guys to be satisfied with the seemingly slow start, and the veterans in the individual position groups demand improvement on every rep from the new guys and themselves, things will start to fall into place fairly quickly.

The greatest tool the guys have right now, is the fact that they’ve got a whole practise worth of film to analyze and correct the things that need to be corrected. I can’t tell you guys enough about how important mental repetition and visualization is in professional football. The guys have to learn quickly, because installation doesn’t stall because guys need to figure things out. The old adage goes, “If you can’t get it, then we gotta find someone that will.?

Day 2 will be better, it has to be, and one of Coach Chamblins many strengths is the way he is able to get guys going during challenging spots.

Here’s some things of note regarding todays events:

Doubles took a ton of reps, more than I’ve seen him take in a camp, it was great. With an entirely new way of doing things, the Franchise needs to see every possible scenario, check down, audible and protection scheme that he has at his disposal.

While we’re on the offense, I felt like people expected a lot more fireworks today, and that wasn’t a fair ask. The WRs, RBs, and QBs are going to take a couple days to really get in sync with each other. Tonight’s film session will be encouraging for them. It will excite them to see the potential that some of the plays the missed actually had. It is clear that this is going to be a fun offense to watch. Just be patient Ridernation, because it will be explosive when they get on the same page. I guarantee it.

I really liked the way the two new OT’s (68-Michael Phillips and 59-Randy Richards) went about their business. Phillips looked explosive while run blocking but also stayed on his track and showed good footwork. Athletic guy too. Randy Richards showed some sound pass pro technique. He’s quick with his arms and hands, punching and reloading nicely so as not to give defenders things to wrestle with. Did well against John Chick a couple of times during team and 1 on 1 pass rush drills.

Speaking of OT’s, Levy Adcock seems to have shed some pounds and I think that will work well in his favour. He really impressed a lot of people last year, so hopefully he can build on that.

Angus Reid is an amazing addition to camp this year! He’s going to be huge in the development of Dan Clark at Centre. Reid had the same type of size and arm length when he played as Dan does now, and the two are probably on the same shelf when it comes to athleticism. There’s nobody better to teach Clark how to use his physical attributes while anchoring the Oline and typically playing against guys that are bigger than him.

#13 Clark who is listed as a DB looked legit. Really impressive athletically and looks like he could be used in a number of places on in that defensive backfield. Another newcomer that caught my attention was Drew Doughty from Utah State. He’s a bit bigger than Brian Peters was but definitely didn’t look out of place when he was lining up at the LB spot.

I have a feeling Nate Webster is going to have a great camp. He was being rotated in with the 1s and 2s this afternoon, and looked like he did a lot more during his reps than Keenan McDougall did while out there.

Dylan Ainsworth also had a good day. I think Mike Sinclair is going to do wonders for #90 because he’s so good with his hands as he demonstrated a few times during 1 on 1 pass rush. You can tell he’s beginning to get it during team competition as well. He adjusted to the read option nicely today, and without the hesitation of a 1st year guy. His play forced a couple of early throws. If he can put together a consistent camp, he may be in line for 15-20 reps pre game. In talking with Coach Dyce a couple of weeks ago about him, he is going to be expected to be a leader on special teams this year as well. Lots of opportunity on the horizon for the Western Alum

Those new coverage rules? Didn’t seem like a problem to our first string DBs. Actually if there was a group that had the best day it was probably them. Their enthusiasm really picks up the rest of that defense, and they’ll need to be vocal all year.

That’s really all I can tell you for today folks. It’s tough to gauge performance when the pads aren’t on. But that will come.

We’ll start zeroing in on specific position groups tomorrow, I haven’t decided on who quite yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

I’ll get to all your questions that you sent me via twitter (@lucmull95) and post the answers tomorrow AM.

Thanks for visiting #Properspective

Thanks for the finds and thoughts guys.

I have never liked Hugh O'Neil. Glad they may have found someone better. Our punting/fg kicking was horrendous at times last season. I'd go as far to say it may have even cost us some games.

Hopefully our o looks a bit better tomorrow.

Sounds like they found a keeper. Milo does appear to be in better shape into camp this season...which isn't saying a lot. Another big thing is that the Riders have a solid long snapper again...even though it cost them a lot. Milo went through what 3-4 snappers and 2-3 holder last season. Once Remple came in he stabilized significantly. People overlook how significant that consistency is in the kicking game. Kickers are more about consistent repetition than any other position. Paredes is a perfect comparison...after a couple stunning seasons he had 3 guys rotate in there as well and struggled because of it. in 2013 Milo had a consistent tandem and put up superb numbers as well. It will be interesting to see if they go one international for all duties. Milo could easily be a bubble player and the team could free up some cap room. Punting last season...definitely agree it cost the team...hard to see how it didn't. Kicking left a few points out there but I don't think it really handicapped the team...and you need the whole package to make the FGs work...that is now in place. I am more than fine with Milo kicking, though I want to see what the import can do as it is supposedly his strength. Always a little tough to give up the ratio spot, and tougher to bring in only 1 guy in case of injury...but worth it IMO if he can crank em. Import aside there is no big boomer for punting though...Nationals will really need to impress over the next week or so. I would say their biggest chance to impress and maybe take a spot is being more used to the wider field for placing the ball.

Ya I was thinking more the punting. Mind you Milo struggled with inconsistency last year as well. But I think a Ricky Schmidt couldve definitely helped especially when Durant got hurt to flip some of the field position. Opponents started on our side of the field consistently because of punts and kickoffs. But good point on the long snapper.

Yeah Milo struggled...but like I compared to paredes...both have struggled when snapper/holder have cycled and both have looked really good when they haven't. Put most in there and they struggle in that. Hus should resolve that issue for whomever is there kicking.