5 Quick Hits from the final day of Blue Bombers training camp:
1. THAT’S A WRAP: The Bombers wrapped up a unique 2021 training camp late Thursday morning. The camp began with players in quarantine at a local hotel, opened on the field with four days of fitness testing and then methodically cranked up in intensity. And by the end it looked and felt like a regular camp — albeit minus one critical component: no preseason games.
The club also lost two players for the season with Achilles injuries in veteran DB Mercy Maston and WR Blake Jackson, a CFL newcomer.
Here’s Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea with a big-picture take on the club’s camp:
“We got a lot accomplished. I thought it was a pretty good training camp. Besides a smoke day (when a morning session was rescheduled to the late afternoon), logistically I don’t think there was a lot of stuff that was unexpected. We pared down the training camp numbers as we went along a couple times and were left with some tough decisions which is ultimately what you’d like at the end of a training camp.”
— Ed Tait (@EdTaitWFC) July 29, 2021
FYI, final roster cuts have to be made by 9 p.m. on July 30. Game-day rosters must consist of a minimum of 43 players and a maximum of 44 and include two quarterbacks and one global player.
2. OUCH REPORT: Not practising Thursday were OL Stanley Bryant, RB Andrew Harris, WR Darvin Adams, FB Mike Miller, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, LB Kyre Wilson, WR ArDarius Stewart, WR Charles Nelson and WR Cam Meredith. O’Shea said he expected Wilson and Adams to be ‘available.’ Harris, Adams and Meredith have missed significant time in camp.
Asked if there was a chance Harris will be back next week, he added: “We’ll see. You know me, I’m always hopeful.”
3. QB1 SAYS: Bombers QB Zach Collaros has now been through nine CFL training camps dating back to his rookie year in Toronto in 2012. Here’s his take on the ’21 version:
“It was definitely a different camp, obviously a whole different feel with all the different rules and guidelines we had to follow. Starting off with a seven-day quarantine and starting the install with the offence in your hotel room and not being able to meet your new teammates and see guys was definitely different.
“It was great getting out there on the field, nice that we brought a lot of guys back so we’re not necessarily starting from scratch. But also having a lot of new guys… being able to have that first seven days for install was good for those guys and actually getting out there on the field was good for them as well. I thought Buck (Pierce, offensive coordinator) did a great job of throwing a lot of stuff at us. We pretty much have everything in and we’ve been working through situations here at the end.
“Probably a less physical camp than a lot of guys are used to, but we’re trying to get ready for Week 1.”
O’Shea, meanwhile, was asked to assess Collaros’ first camp with the Bombers after arriving via trade in October of 2019.
“Excellent. Excellent,” he said. “He’s completed a very high percentage of his passes. He’s run the offence well. His communication in the meeting rooms is excellent, on the field is excellent. He’s a very good leader and the leadership piece has been fantastic. I thought he’s had an excellent training camp.”
4. NO STONE UNTURNED: The Bombers wrapped up camp by practising just about every scenario imaginable over the last few days. On Thursday, they were even drilled on how to stand for the national anthem.
“We would have done that earlier for our home preseason game if we had had one,” O’Shea explained. “So, it’s on the list of things to-do and this was the day to do it. I just want to make sure the first week is complete focus on our opponent.
“In any country the national anthem is a very important thing and it means a lot to a lot of people. It’s no different here. I just wanted to make sure we have a great understanding of what our expectations are and what the fans expectations are and what the viewing audience would expect to see. It’s not always going to end up perfect, but if I don’t explain how we want it to go then I shouldn’t be upset when I see something I don’t like.”
5. QUOTABLE: Vegas has posted Grey Cup odds and other predictions from various media outlets are already filtering in as Week 1 of the Canadian Football League season approaches. And, just FYI, not many of those guesses have the Blue Bombers going back to back.
Here’s Willie Jefferson when asked about those prognostications:
“It’s kind of early for Grey Cup predictions. I don’t know what the predictions were (in 2019) at the beginning of the season, but I’m pretty sure the Winnipeg Blue Bombers weren’t picked to win the Grey Cup last year either.”
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