By: Santino Filoso
The Redblacks took an important step in their development this week as the team came together for mini-camp in Richmond, VA. The historic gathering gave coaches and management their first look at their players on the field (albeit without any equipment, due to league rules) and allowed the team to begin developing some chemistry. Here are a few takeaways from the three-day camp:
– Marcel Desjardins is the anti-Burris, in that he seemingly never cracks a smile. After all the tough legwork he’s done to get the franchise to this point, the guy has to be giddy inside to finally see his players on an actual field, doing football things. Not that you’d ever be able to tell from his body language though. I think Desjardins will only smile when the Redblacks win back-to-back Grey Cups, and even then only if they’re blowouts.
– Henry Burris could make a hell of a weatherman. Smooth clear voice, check. Million dollar smile, check. Ability to concentrate in averse conditions (Fred Rouse), check. Strokes his audience’s ego with subtle comments, check. Interesting random prop (banana peels), check.
– You heard it here first: there’s no chance Kevin Glenn shows up to training camp. This was the Redblacks first organized event in team history. You can’t overstate how important it was for all the guys to get together and to start building some chemistry. This would’ve been the perfect opportunity for Glenn to silence his critics and play the good solider until another team’s pivot went down, paving the way for him to be traded. By failing to show up at this mini-camp, he’s alienated himself from the guys on the roster and missed out on a crucial bonding experience. One thing’s for certain: with Burris, Thomas DeMarco, Matt Faulkner and the newly signed Corey Leonard, the Redblacks have a bevy of strong arms. The only person Glenn’s hurting right now is himself.
– Keith Shologan is happy to be out of Regina, even if it’s only for a few days. Who can blame him, considering the seasons in Regina are Winter (October to mid-May) and Spring/Summer (July to early September).
– The numbers on the Redblacks jerseys are going to be unique in the CFL, as they’ll feature a small notch, just like the R on the buzz saw in the logo. Personally I love this touch and can’t wait to see what the finished product will look like when the uniforms are finally and officially revealed on May 10th.
– According to the Ottawa Citizen, Eric Fraser is the Redblacks CFLPA rep. Between mini-camp drills he took some time to meet with the Redblacks veterans and updated them on the latest CBA situation. From his tweets you can see that Fraser is a very intelligent and reasonable guy, and hopefully this translates in a positive manner during the CBA negotiations. Also he got sore feet:
– R-Nation cannot be contained and we are already everywhere. We’re going to have strong showings at every stadium this season so that our boys know they’ll never be alone in enemy territory. Zack and Erika Wood got an early start on the road tripping by heading down to Richmond to watch the Redblacks practice.
– Remember the name Jordan Roberts (RB). He was an absolute monster in college putting up 50 TDs in just three seasons at the University of Charleston and sounds like he really had a strong camp. I think he’ll be an impact player and quickly turn into a fan favourite.
– The mistakes the doomed the Renegades will not be repeated by the Redblacks. The team had a ton of French content in their camp coverage, with tweets in both English and French, interviews with players like WR Simon Le Marquand and FB Patrick Lavoie and used both languages in their daily video updates. Smart move by management to keep everyone happy.
– The Redblacks team Desjardins has put together looks very fast. Bodies have been flying around and everyone from reporters to coaches to the players themselves have been commenting on it. That being said, take it with a grain of salt as it’s easy to look fast without helmets and pads and when you’re not being fully jammed at the line.
– Lastly, there’s something different about this team, it isn’t your normal expansion group. The feeling of optimism surrounding the players and the quality of their resumes gives the Redblacks more than a fighting chance out of the gate and you could even make the argument that they’re already better than some teams (hint: Winnipeg). GM Desjardins hammered this message home at the team’s first meeting when he told the players that “from this point forward, we are the Ottawa Redblacks, not the expansion Ottawa Redblacks”. That’s exactly the mentality the team needs to adopt to be successful and it’s good to see it expressed from management.
“From this point forward, we are the Ottawa Redblacks, not the expansion Ottawa Redblacks”.
With our first look at the team in the books, what position do you think is the Redblacks strongest?