We managed to survive 6 months without football. Plus when you factor in how terrible 2015 was, its been many many (many many) more months since we saw meaningful football. So you can understand how utterly ecstatic I am that football is back. Even if the only taste of it I get is reading others' camp reports. (Those of you in Saskatoon have not idea how envious I am).
There's only so much you can glean from the first day of practice but given how desperate we all are for football talk I will glean as many shreds as I can.
I'll start with the wave of transactions the Riders announced to start Sunday. 21 players were added to the roster, 4 were cut (Jones getting an early start on the easiest part of any coach's job) and 4 were added to the retired list. I'm sure you are probably wondering what in the hell is with all the retirements. Retirements at this point generally mean that the player either decided not to report or wasn't in shape. By having them "retire" rather than simply cutting them, we retain their rights for the duration of the contract (i.e. can't be vultured by others in case they ever change their mind).
What else do the transactions tell us?
- The fact that we only brought 4 QBs to camp tell me that they really believe that one of the 3 back-ups can be a legit number 2. If there was uncertainty there would be more competition. My sense is BJ Coleman is the one they are hoping for.
- Its looking more and more likely that Curtis Steele will the starting RB. With Devrin Young gone there is only Cobb and Cyrus to compete. I think we will opt for Steele early just because he will be a more reliable blocker than a rookie. I don't rule out a young RB being worked in and taking over at some point.
- Our secondary is anything but set. 8 more DBs were added, leaving us with 18 in camp. We are looking at a ton of options from the make-up of the back 5
- Chris Jones is not bound by what position a player had played. He will put them anywhere he thinks they can be of value (and confuse the hell out of the rest of us in the process). AC Leonard is a TE but Jones has him with the D-line (as he did in mini camp). Jordan Reaves is a WR and he's with the DBs (again something that was done in mini camp). Our supplemental draft pick Kevin Francis is a WR/TE but you'll find him with the linebackers. DB Qudarius Ford was playing WR. Lastly, Tre'Von Armstead is an OL/TE but is currently with the D-line. I assume at some point Jones will have Thaddeus Coleman kicking FGs and Brett Smith long snapping.
- Not on the transaction list was hold-out Josiah St John. We are at an impasse with his agent in contract negotiations. We started at $53k but are apparently willing to go up to the $80k that last year's top OL draftees got. They want $400k over 3 years... not sure if they will supply the lube in that deal or just buy us a nice dinner when its done.
Everything is subject to change as camp progresses but here are some nuggets of info from day 1:
- Fulton and Coleman were the starting tackles (something I expect to continue into the season)
- Irvin and White were the DTs. Irvin is a lock for one spot. White is among many options that will be auditioned (Hazime, Rayford and Williams are also in the mix).
- Starting secondary was Gainey-Brooks-Newman-Hollins-Shuler. Brooks is impressing early which is great news for us.
- Only surprise among the starting receivers was Ryan Lankford. Be interesting who joins Roosevelt and Chiles as the 3rd starting import WR
That's all got for now but rest assured, like the rest of you, I will be glued to every tidbit of info that comes out of camp and will be breaking down what it means for you.