Thursday’s practice was a warm one, with the REDBLACKS back on the field for the morning as the team powers toward the end of Week 1 of camp. Friday and Saturday will be regular practices, while Sunday’s session will feature more game-like scenarios, including the use of a play clock and having coaches up in the spotter’s booth.
Familiar faces on Zoom: What would typically be a post-practice scrum with the media is now being fondly (or not) called a Zoomer (or is that just us?) and Thursday’s session with the REDBLACKS was well attended. TSN’s Dave Naylor popped by, as did the network’s sideline reporter/Chuck Taylor aficionado Matthew Scianitti. Speaking of Scianitti, he was asking defensive back Sherrod Baltimore about the advice he’s given to rookies coming into camp after practice, but with the virtual interviews, sometimes it’s hard to tell who is asking the question. Baltimore realized who it was halfway through the interview. Baltimore started: “I tell them a few things…hey, I didn’t even know this was you Matt, good to see you brother…can’t wait to see your face…”. Then he got into his advice for younger players: “The biggest thing is watch that film. I’m still growing too as a football player. You just stay focused. You gotta take care of your body man, the best ability is availability, they can’t evaluate you (if you’re hurt). Every day, make a play. A play a day keep the man away.
Lead whistle: As Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator, Paul LaPolice isn’t quiet for long during practices and his slightly hoarse voice betrayed him slightly not that front on Thursday. But the veteran coach is loving every minute of being back on the field and, like the rest of the staff, is happy to pitch in when needed, even if that means helping set up physically-distanced chairs ahead of a meeting. Asked by the media to highlight a few receivers he’s been impressed with early on, he mentioned former Blue Bomber Daniel Petermann (“he’s been in the system…the guy just makes a lot of plays’), returning pass-catcher Nate Behar (he’s done a really nice job. I was impressed; he’s a professional, he’s pretty smart, he has a really good grasp of CFL offences and protections…He’s been impressive on and off the field”). LaPolice also singled out Anthony Coombs, who has had a strong camp so far.
QB1: Matt Nichols spent another busy day on the field getting plenty of reps with a variety of different receivers. He likes what he’s seen. “There’s a lot of talent here and there have been a lot of guys who have stood out to me. It’s just a matter of finding who fits where the best. I’m just excited with all the talent we have across the board at receiver.” Nichols said he’s still soaking in the feeling of finally being back on a football field with the full team. “It feels awesome,” he said. “You don’t always realize how important the game is at some points in your career with different things that you go through, but when you have the game taken away from you for a year…I’m just excited to be out there with the guys. I’m having fun going through this training cramp grind.”
The QB-Offensive Line relationship: A good relationship between QB and O-Line is huge. The line is basically the quarterback’s security team. So quarterbacks, the good ones, make sure the line is rewarded, especially for guys playing a position that tends to fly under the radar (which they prefer). It’s still early in camp with much to be decided, but Nichols, a veteran of seven CFL seasons, has plans. “I haven’t promised them anything yet, but any of the o-linemen that played with me know, there will be gifts. Usually my wife and kids make treats and food, but they’re not here right now so we’ll have to order in. But they’ll be taken care of.”
Schedule change: Friday’s practice will run shorter than originally planned on Friday, with the players on the field from 10 to just before noon.
Today’s coverage: Check out the latest from training camp at the Ottawa Sun, Le Droit, TSN ands CTV Ottawa.
Training Camp presented by TD