The good news is that this weekend saw the first actual rider football of 2015. The bad news is that is happened thousands of miles away and meaningful details from the event are few and far between. But I guess we can't be picky when it comes to football news in April. I will do my best to relay the meaningful takeways from the weekend (of which there really aren't many).
There were 50 participants day 1 and an additional 20+ vets who came for day 2. All the QBs except for Glenn were there. Newly signed guys like Greg Hardin, Naaman Roosevelt, Phillip Steward, Eltoro Freeman, Jamel Richardson, Keenan MacDougall were mostly all there. Also a large majority of the offensive vets were there as they began installing the new Chapdelaine offense (had Cortez been retained that time would have been set aside purely for practicing handoffs and cursing Sunseri under his breath... kidding... mostly).
While the full list of participants was not disclosed, here is the list of unsigned/neg list guys who participated in the mini-camp.
RB: Jerodis Williams, Deji Karim, Ray Graham, Cierre Woods
WR: LaQuan Williams, Alex Carroll, Devin Wilson
OL: Anthony Dima, Randy Richards, Pierce Burton
DL: Lee Pegues
DB: Tyree Hollins, Antareis Bryan, Junior Mertile, Qua Cox (James Patrick brother)
K: Trey Barrow, Ray Early, Kyle Martens
Given that we didn't actually see the practices and the team is understandably not blabbing a ton of details, there won't be a ton of news coming out of the weekend (at least until some of the prospects start getting signed). Also, given the adjustment to the CFL game and the new defensive rules, the receivers all predictably looked good compared to the DBs in what was basically a gloried game of touch football.
- Chamblin raised some eyebrows when he stated that a couple guys at camp were better than Maze and Brack. I would say its a good thing if we are bringing in recruits that good. That said, Chamblin was clearly joking a bit and sending a bit of a message to his vets to come to main camp ready to fight for their job. Even if Chamblin wasn't joking, after his outrageous claim that Kilgore reminded him of Adam Bighill, no one would have believed Chamblin anyway. Fool me once...
- Best news is that Durant is 100% healthy and ready to go. The real test will come once the bullets start playing for real but all positive signs so far for the franchise player.
- Dan Clark and Corey Watman are competing for the vacant spot at centre. There will be some adjusting for everyone involved including the QBs as the newbies apparently fire the snaps back a lot faster than the lofting slowpitch snaps that Picard provided.
- Jamel Richardson saw very limited action as he continues to recover from knee injuries. He claims he will be ready to go come training camp but I honestly don't think we will ever see him get back into good enough form to get back in a starting rotation. Or if he does it won't be for more than a couple games.
- The Rider Prophet Endorsement claimed another victim as this year's chosen one, Eltoro Freeman hurt his hammy day one practice. One of these years I will learn to use the powers of my endorsement for good not evil.
- Highly hyped Greg Harin impressed. In light of the aforementioned complications with Freeman I would like to go on record as saying that I hate Hardin and hope he never makes this team just to be safe.
- There is talk of Jerome Messam being our starting RB. If he can stay healthy I like it. He's a good sized blocker and has great hands (an RB needs both in Chapdelaine's offense). Likely just experimentation at this point but I bet its one of the options on the table... though I expect him to be part of the mix but not the lead back. Guys like Allen and the Space Cowboy (who I also expressly do not endorse) will get their reps.
- Keenan MacDougall backed up by Matt Webster manned the safety position. Again, hard to say if this is the plan or just experimentation since a lot of defensive vets weren't there but this is definitely an option under consideration.
- Sadly, things surrounding the linebacking group were very tight lipped other than the Riders' brass liked the level of competition. I'm guessing Steward is the lead horse but that's just purely guessing because no other LB names leaked out.
- Things were also quiet regarding the DL's where we have 2 rosters spots up for grabs. Though I guess there's only so much you can tell in a non-contact practice.
That's about it. We will start knowing which prospects did good in the coming weeks as signings are announced. For not just take solace in the fact that we have actual football to discuss and debate.