Monday, June 2, 2008

Training Camp Is Here

What a great day Sunday was. The sun was shining, fans lining the seats at Mosaic Stadium and the Riders practicing as a team for the first time this year. Yes indeed football is back! Which is good because I was about 1 more football-less week away from taking up knitting and changing my name to the Afghan Prophet (on second thought that may have lead to some confusion).

I was down at Mosaic Friday for the last day Rookie camp. A few things worth mentioning about rookie camp…
  • Believe the hype about Weston Dressler. This guy is faster than a greased Scotsman.
  • The hype about Adarius Bowman also appears to be well deserved, he’s not a flashy player but he runs great routes and catches very well. Odds are good he will make the team.
  • Brock Stratton is built like a truck, solid head to toe. I can’t wait to see him hit someone full bore.
  • Quentin Jones and EJ Whitley looked good at defensive back and should provide some good competition at main camp. Though for some reason Whitley refuses to let his jersey go below his nipples and I find that annoying.
When all was said and done 6 guys didn’t make it out of rookie camp. That list includes Ryan Ackerman, Jeremy Burnett, Princeton Sheppard, Kevin Garrett (who was traded to Winnipeg for a neg list player) and Nuvraj Bassi (who is huge for the record). I actually expect Bassi to stick around and rejoin the team once his leg heals up. He needs to work on his technique and conditioning but his power is pretty awesome (as is his beard). The final rookie camp victim was TJ Stancil (not sure how a vet manages to get cut following rookie camp). Stancil’s departure definitely leaves a hole on our roster… the good thing is to fill that hole all we need to do is find someone who can play 6 games over the next 3 years. I liked Stancil but he was hurt at a rate that rivaled Nathan Hoffart. In the salary cap era an oft injured player isn’t a good investment regardless of their talent level.

Main camp started yesterday and man was it nice to see familiar faces like Cates, Fantuz and Schultz back on the field. There will be some interesting position battles to watch at camp: who will replace Perry and Hunt? Who will win out at cornerback? Will Frenette be able to fend off Kevin Scott at long snapper? Will my prayers finally be answered and Henri Childs be cut? One noteworthy change that’s already been made is Gene Makowsky has been moved from tackle to guard on the offensive line. I think this is a great move. Makowsky is still among the best in league but he isn’t getting any younger or faster (unlike some of the defensive ends around the league). Fred Childress made the same move and it extended his career by a few years, hopefully the same thing will happen to Makowsky. This is a good time to make the move given our current depth at offensive line. Glen January (who is a force by all accounts) will likely take Gene-o’s spot and it will be between Wayne Smith and Steve Morley for the other tackle spot. Toss in O’Day, Abou-Mecherek and Szarka and Marcus Crandell will have more protection than a case of condoms.

Now here’s some news from around the league…

Unlike our offensive line which is only getting better, the Stampeder’s offensive line is quickly going down the tubes. Already gone from last year’s offensive line are John Comiskey (traded to Edmonton) and Jay McNeil (retired). Now you can add to that list Bobby Singh who was cut along with JR Ruffin after failing a physical. And the list of people being brought in as replacements wouldn’t exactly put a QB at ease. So far they’ve brought in Jermese Jones (whose pass blocking is suspect at best), Antonio Hall (who didn’t play football last year) and 2 rookie draft picks. John Hufnagel better hope Burris can be successful throwing on the run because the o-line won’t be stopping a whole lot this year and Dickenson will likely refuse to play behind that line. Seriously, if BC’s line (who was among the league’s best) couldn’t protect him what chance does this group of cast offs and rookies have?

The other big news this week came out of Toronto. The Argos announced that they signed kicker Mike Vanderjagt to a contract. Vanderjagt started his career here in Saskatchewan, won 2 Grey Cups with the Argos and then went to the NFL where he became the most accurate kicker in the NFL (with the exception of his last season when he was pretty brutal). I find this move a bit odd. Not because the Argos are signing a washed up NFLer who was once good… that’s just business as usual. The price tag is what intrigues me. Last year the Bombers were interested in him but he said he wanted $200K a season or no deal. So I wonder how much he agreed to play for. They must have been able to agree on a deal that was just right… or in Vanderjagt’s case wide right. Regardless, I’m not too worried. Anyone who Peyton Manning refers to as an “idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off” shouldn’t be cause for concern.

To make room for Vanderjagt the Argos traded Noel Prefontaine to the Eskimos, who appear to be setting records for most kickers signed and released in a single offseason. In return Edmonton sent a 1st round pick in ’09 and a conditional pick in 2010. What is it with the Eskimos and using their first round picks to acquire kickers? I mean Prefontaine is good but a 1st rounder is a steep price to pay (particularly when you’re likely to finish last, we’re talking a 1st or 2nd overall pick here). Danny Macciocia has apparently decided on the only strategy for draft picks that is worse than Brendan Taman’s. As a result of acquiring Prefontaine, the Esks promptly cut Duncan O’Mahony who didn’t seem to mind since odds are he wasn’t going to be able to find his way to Edmonton anyway.


Anonymous said...

I think the Prophet is a big part of the Riders. He should get a Grey Cup ring


Anonymous said...

It's no coincidence that the Riders won the Grey Cup in the Prophet's first year on the job. Now I just have to convince Jim Hopson of that.

reed's black said...

i heard that stamps stadium is being reno'ed so buris offered up his front teeth for the kickers to practise

and i think ossama bid prophet has a better ring