Thursday marked day five of Riders Training Camp at the U of R, and though the Camp schedule can be taxing on both the players and coaches, the energy level seems to be as high as ever.
The club is beginning to prepare for their first pre-season test vs the defending Grey Cup Champion B.C Lions on Wednesday, June 13th.
• The Thursday headline was made by WR Dwayne Jarrett. Jarrett joined the Riders in April following an outstanding collegiate career and four seasons with the Carolina Panthers.
The former USC star let the team know Wednesday night that he would be retiring from football.
• Two mid-camp additions to note, defensive back Terrell Maze and linebacker Davonte Shannon. Both have fared well in their short time with the club. Maze has been around the ball consistently, while Shannon has been seeing quite a few reps in the dime linebacker position.
• Still in awe of the turnout at the University of Regina on a daily basis. Rider Nation never ceases to amaze.
• Though it’s way too early to read into these types of things, the offensive line looks to be shaping into form and the “first group” has consistently seen Fulton, LaBatte, Picard, Best and Goodspeed taking the reps.
No real shockers there, though the emergence of Xavier Fulton has been a pleasant surprise to the coaching staff. Fulton was acquired by the club in a trade with Edmonton in April and looks like he has a strong chance to earn the starting left tackle spot.
• Tons of talent at the receiver position, even with the retirement of Jarrett. There are still the likes of import receivers Moss, Harper, Smith, Chery, Sanders to put under the microscope.
Veterans Weston Dressler, Rob Bagg, Efrem Hill and Chris Getzlaf have all looked great…it will be interesting to see who makes the strongest bid for a starting roster spot.
• A lot’s been made about the battle for the running-back spot following the Riders decision to not re-sign veteran Wes Cates. Incumbent Brandon West has looked explosive throughout camp, while newcomers Kory Sheets and Demetrius Crawford have looked very impressive in their reps as well. RB DeShawn Wynn looked great in rookie camp, but has been hampered with a foot injury, keeping him on the sidelines for the majority of camp to this point.
It will be very interesting to see how the touches are split throughout the remainder of camp, as well as the pre-season games.
• The battle at quarterback behind starter Darian Durant has also been interesting to watch. Both the #2 and #3 spots are up for grabs following the departures of Ryan Dinwiddie and Cole Bergquist.
Between O’Sullivan, Brown, Willy and Brennan it’s beginning to look like one of the more tightly contested battles in camp. The two pre-season games will go a long way in determining how the depth chart shakes out behind Durant.
• Hard not to notice the hands on approach DB Coach Barron Miles has taken with the Defensive Backs…should be exciting to see how it all carries over into the regular season.
• Defensively, the front seven will have a vastly different look to it in 2012. Currently the starting defensive ends are Brent Hawkins and Kenny Rowe, with Rider newcomers Odell Willis, Chris Ellis, David Veikune and Curtis Gatewood all pushing for snaps.
Ellis (6’5 – 260) has even taken some reps at the defensive tackle spot in some sub-packages in order to get more pass-rushers on the field.
• With the departure of Dario Romero in the off-season, there will also be a new defensive tackle lining up next to rising star Keith Shologan.
Tearrius George looks to have the inside track at the starters spot, the former defensive end has moved inside and appears to be much more comfortable. Boo Robinson and Mick Williams have also flashed and will be competing for snaps during the pre-season.
• A lot of headlines about the loss of the three starting linebackers from last season (Lucas, Simpson, Freeman).
After watching some of the athletes out on the field during training camp, fans should feel comfortable knowing that the talent is certainly there.
Players like Daren Stone, the aforementioned Davonte Shannon, Daniel Sheffield and Abraham Kromah may all be relatively anonymous right now, but that could quickly change…and for good reason.
2012 Training Camp Photo Gallery