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Author Topic: Mini Camp Reports  (Read 3327 times)
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« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2019, 08:12:04 PM »

Mini Camp Report | Final Day - Ed Tait

BRADENTON, FL - The curses of frustration and primal screams of joy came early and often during Winnipeg Blue Bombers mini camp.

Those extreme emotions - the good and the bad - are to be expected in these situations. Some players, roughly 20 of the 40 in attendance, will have earned an invitation to main training camp, scheduled to open in just a few weeks.

But for others, this camp can represent the end of a dream.

That's a whole lot to unwrap, both for those living in the moment on the field, the Bombers coaches, scouts and management types here in attendance making those potentially life-changing decisions, and for those of us on the sidelines watching the whole thing unfold.

But with that in mind, here are some quick takes - in no particular order - from two days and three practices covering 255 minutes of do-or-die, make-or-break...

MISSION: ACCOMPLISHED...

The goal of the two-day camp was for the Bombers to get a look at some of the prized names on their negotiation list or under contract and then whittle that number down to bring more bodies to main camp.

Some of the players on the field over the two days at the IMG Academy could not only soon be wearing Bomber colours on game night, but muscle their way into the starting lineup.

It's no secret the club aggressively pursued some 'name' CFL receivers in free agency and will also have three new starters in the secondary after the exits of cornerbacks Kevin Fogg and Chris Randle and safety Taylor Loffler.

"Very competitive," said head coach Mike O'Shea when asked for his quick take on what he saw in camp. "I think there are some guys that can step in and contribute right away so that's always exciting. Ted (Goveia), Danny (McManus), Ryan (Rigmaiden) brought in a good crew of guys. They've obviously been working very hard. This is great for them, too, because they work very hard to get these guys here and to see it come to fruition for them is always nice."

THE YAYS, THE NAYS AND THE IN-BETWEENS...

It didn't take too long for players to begin popping off the page Wednesday and then carry that work into Thursday.

It could be argued, for example, that wide receiver Rasheed Bailey was not only the most consistent participant in camp, but also the player who delivered the most acrobatic catches over the two days.

Decisions on offering players like that contracts or training camp invites are slam dunks - just as the opposite is true of those who struggle or show up out of shape.

The difficult decisions, then, are for those who flash only occasionally but have good game film and credentials.

"We had a long night of meetings (Wednesday) night and watched all the film as a staff," said GM Kyle Walters as the final session unfolded behind him Thursday morning. "We got the guys separated into unanimous 'Yes, we like them' and unanimous 'I don't think they have a chance.' The third category will sort itself out today. We've got a couple spots left and it's 'Here are the guys that are competing for it' and it's probably unbeknownst to the guys we're looking at right now. It's a real big morning for a few of them to clear up the last few contract spots."

The Bombers had 40 players here in camp - 15 receivers, 15 defensive backs, four linebackers, three quarterbacks and three running backs - and plan to bring about 20 to main camp. Of that group, approximately half of the receiver and defensive back group could earn invitations, along with one QB and running back and two linebackers.

"A couple saddle up and ask, 'How many guys from here make it to training camp?'," said Walters. "You can tell the veteran guys who have been through these things before and want to start figuring out the numbers game of things here. It was interesting to have a conversation with a couple of those guys."

NOTHING IS EVER CHISELLED IN STONE IN FOOTBALL...

All that said, there are a few other factors at play when it comes time to filling out a camp roster. The Bombers will be closely monitoring the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday, to see who might shake loose after. Draft-eligible prospects who don't get selected or signed as free agents by NFL teams may then look north to the CFL.

NFL Draft-day decisions also indirectly impact players already on rosters down south or on the bubble, who could then be released closer to CFL camps - similar to what unfolded for Adam Bighill last year when the Bombers scooped him up following his release from the New Orleans Saints.

The cold, hard reality is somebody who stood out enough at the Bombers mini-camp over the last two days to earn a camp invite could still be vulnerable if a prospect or CFL vet shakes free in the next few weeks.

ALL OR NOTHING?


Many of the players in mini-camp have been in an NFL camp before. Seven saw action or were affiliated with the recently-folded Alliance of American Football. They are all still chasing the dream of making a living in the game. And again, with stakes like that it's little wonder the two days can be emotional.

Case in point, we give you former Arkansas star receiver Drew Morgan...

Consider this: in his quest to make football his life, he was first signed by the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in May of 2017; was cut in September of that year and added to the practice roster; signed to a reserve/future contract in January of 2018 and then waived and cut by the Dolphins last September.

He signed with the Memphis Express of the AAF, but was injured before hooking up with the Bombers. Morgan had a solid first day of camp, but likely exited the second day as one of the 'bubble' guys.

"This has always been Plan A for me. I've never had a Plan B," he said. "I preach it every day: 'If you have a Plan B, you're not putting all your effort into Plan A.' I wake up every day with the same attitude and the same effort because that's what I was taught way back in high school - the two things you can control are your attitude and your effort.

"Attitude is everything to me. I try to bring positive energy no matter where I go. This is football. Everybody looks at it as a sport. The guys here look at is as their life."

BEEN HERE, DONE THIS...

Thursday's session began with head coach Mike O'Shea introducing Bombers defensive back Brandon Alexander to the prospects. Alexander, of course, is the Exhibit A when coaches and scouts sell prospects on attending free agent camps.

"He is, I would say, the best example of making the most out of opportunities," said O'Shea. "Every turn of the corner he made the cut and put something up that made you say, 'This guy has to come to camp, he has to go to the next step. I tried to encourage the guys with that message this morning. And B.A. being around... some of the guys know about him or heard about him. He really has become an extremely important leader on our defence and on our team. It?s awesome to see a guy like that come around.

"His story at university is the same" a walk-on and four-year starter. When you present that to a group like this they realize this is important for them and there is the possibility that they're going to do it, too. It's standing right in front of them.?

Alexander spoke to the prospects before the session and could be seen offering instruction from the sideline throughout the morning. That's just one example of why the club was so eager to get Alexander back, seeing him not only as a vital part of their defence, but a guy who can help fill the leadership void in the secondary with the departure of Randle to the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

"I was just here two years ago. I love coming out and just seeing football again. I miss it and I'm ready to come back," said Alexander. "Before I came out here I was out (of the game) for two years and just getting the opportunity to come back out and showcase my ability I was just happy to get a chance to come out.

"The first thing I remember is just being nervous because you've got guys running into you and you're not used to that, as far as people coming off the line before the ball is snapped and how wide the field is and everything. But I shut my mind off and just said I need to come out here and work hard and be myself. That's what I did, from stealing reps to anything else. I wanted to show I was different and I think I did that."

LET THE PAPER TRAIL BEGIN...


The Bombers have held a similar camp to this in Winnipeg over the past few years with some returning vets with limited experience, but the negotiations towards a new collective bargaining agreement did impact how this edition came about.

In simple terms, the CFL set up a plan for teams to still hold mini-camps, but because non-contracted players could not be on the field with players under contract, the league provided a 56-hour protection window where all players were released - but protected - in order to participate.

That window closes Friday afternoon, meaning the Bombers have some decisions to make on who to sign again, who to put on their neg list and who to potentially release.

THE 'O' BOSS SAYS...


Bombers offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice was busy trying to introduce the nuances of the Canadian game to 15 receivers and three quarterbacks. And the fact so many of them took turns standing out is a positive as main training camp nears.

"The (receiver) unit, as a group, did a great job," said LaPolice. "I commended them today, we put a lot of stuff in and they didn't bust so this is an intelligent group. There's some size in this unit, there's some quickness... it's just figuring out which guys will fit. But a lot of guys stood out.

"We're fortunate because we have a lot of pieces returning to the offence and have a unit that scored a lot of points last year. But, we?ve got to improve, as always.?

What?s next in the evaluation process for these prospects is a mammoth step, for it's one thing to stand out against a fresh-faced defensive back, it's another to be lining up opposite a veteran in camp.

"You could see some guys here on one-on-ones win every one," said LaPolice. "It's a whole new ball game, even from rookie camp. And when the rookies leave and the vets show up, those guys are, 'Whoa...' They've just got to be able to respond and keep competing."

https://www.bluebombers.com/2019/04/25/mini-camp-report-final-day/
« Last Edit: April 25, 2019, 10:29:01 PM by ModAdmin » Logged

"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one." - John Wooden
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« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2019, 10:27:37 PM »

Mini Camp Report | Rasheed Bailey a Standout - Ed Tait

BRADENTON, FL - He speaks with power and conviction. And in that sense, Rasheed Bailey has the ability to draw you in and make you listen.

His is a powerful message, after all, from growing up on the tough streets of Philadelphia to working his way onto the radar of National Football League teams all the way from Division III Delaware Valley University.

That back story is part of what made Bailey such a compelling prospect heading into Winnipeg Blue Bombers mini-camp here at IMG Academy. But it's what he did over three practice sessions that really resonated with the people that matter most in the right here and now: the club's coaches, scouts and management.

"I felt like I left it all out here," said Bailey. "I felt like today, though, the 'Waggle' caught up to me. We did it (on Wednesday) and your body starts to get used to it, but your body also starts to feel the pain and it's like, 'Oh, man... this is different.'

"But it was a great experience. Winnipeg is a great organization and all of the coaches are on one accord. It seems pretty cool. (Wednesday) I was in a zone. I take pride on being consistent and I take pride in trying to be the best guy out here."

"He didn't make a mistake. He did everything right," Bombers offensive coordinator Paul LaPolice said of Bailey. "Every rep he ran at 100 miles per hour, he caught almost every ball thrown to him. You always talk to these guys about having staying power. You can't be great Day 1 and average Day 2, great Day 3, average Day... you have to be great every day and every rep he had he did very well.

"He's got good speed and picked up the waggle right away. He had a good camp."

Bailey left tiny Delaware Valley University as the school's all-time leader in receiving yardage, and parlayed that into looks from the Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers, a second stint with the Eagles, the Cleveland Browns, and most recently, the Carolina Panthers.

"I was in Carolina for almost a year," he said. "One of the greatest experiences I've ever been around. I was living with Torrey Smith, I was always around Cam (Newton), who was teaching me to be a better man. That experience taught me, 'Just be you, no matter what.' Being around Cam, he's a guy who is himself and he brought that out of me and that was a great experience."

It was during Thursday's conversation with Bailey that his passion not just for the game, but for life, became evident with every word that came out of his mouth.

During his college days, Bailey decided to use all his life experiences in a way to deliver a positive message to school kids, to other athletes, to anyone who is willing to listen.

"I've been speaking for a very long time," he said. "I was a team captain in college and I was always a guy who was willing to speak up when it was needed, to give whatever spark we needed to get that edge. I trained with a guy in Philly and he said 'Listen 'Sheed, you have a gift inside of you.' My mom says it to me all the time as well... 'Something's inside of you that you just really need to share with the world.' Whatever chance I get, I do that.

"These past few months I've been trying to be more than just an athlete. I've been trying to inspire kids all over the world. I really believe the words I have to say, the things I've been through in my life, are going to change somebody's world. If I can give that inspiration or that motivation to a kid, to an adult, to anybody, I want to do it. Listen, you can overcome anything. Every challenge that is put in front of me is put in front of me so I can tell a story.

"It's been a long journey and every instance, every stint I've had with a team I've learned something more about myself. It's been a great journey. At this point it doesn't really matter what they decide to do," Bailey added. "I'm here, I'm building character, I'm building something in me that?s way bigger than just football."

https://www.bluebombers.com/2019/04/25/314598/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
« Last Edit: April 25, 2019, 10:29:59 PM by ModAdmin » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: April 28, 2019, 12:25:15 AM »

So aren't they supposed to have published the names of the guys they invited to training camp? Today?
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« Reply #18 on: April 28, 2019, 03:35:08 AM »

QB Bryan Schor from James Madison U has been released following a dismal Mini Camp performance in Florida.  One more QB will be added to the main camp roster.
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« Reply #19 on: April 28, 2019, 12:47:22 PM »

QB Bryan Schor from James Madison U has been released following a dismal Mini Camp performance in Florida.  One more QB will be added to the main camp roster.

We showed Sean McGuire as another QB at the camp. Didn't see Madison on the camp list though?
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« Reply #20 on: April 28, 2019, 12:58:05 PM »

We showed Sean McGuire as another QB at the camp. Didn't see Madison on the camp list though?
James Madison is a school
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« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2019, 02:20:30 PM »

James Madison is a school

LOL. Missed that before having my morning coffee.  thnxs

Anyway. I wonder if the the QB from UBC gets an CFL or NFL offer (O'Conner ). He's got some talent. Bennett played well on ST's in 2018 but he may not be a lock as our # 3.
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« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2019, 05:29:04 PM »

QB Bryan Schor from James Madison U has been released following a dismal Mini Camp performance in Florida.  One more QB will be added to the main camp roster.
I'm Schor he is disappointed. Wish him the best though
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« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2019, 05:57:42 PM »

I'm Schor he is disappointed. Wish him the best though

Along with James Madison!
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« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2019, 06:33:06 PM »

LOL. Missed that before having my morning coffee.  thnxs

Anyway. I wonder if the the QB from UBC gets an CFL or NFL offer (O'Conner ). He's got some talent. Bennett played well on ST's in 2018 but he may not be a lock as our # 3.
I believe that O'Conner signed with Seattle.
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« Reply #25 on: April 28, 2019, 08:18:04 PM »

I believe that O'Conner signed with Seattle.

I haven't checked on the UDFA contacts being done since yesterday. I hope he does well but it would have been nice if he got a chance in the CFL.
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« Reply #26 on: April 28, 2019, 08:37:42 PM »

I haven't checked on the UDFA contacts being done since yesterday. I hope he does well but it would have been nice if he got a chance in the CFL.
I actually saw it on the TSN website. Farhan Lalji has an article about Canadian players that we're invited to NFL mini camps and how it will affect the draft.
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« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2019, 04:18:30 PM »

QB Bryan Schor from James Madison U has been released following a dismal Mini Camp performance in Florida.  One more QB will be added to the main camp roster.

He's been around on our neg list for at least a couple of years. I guess it clears up a spot at least.
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