TORONTO — From highly-anticipated debuts to aggressive place battles, there are many storylines to report after coaching camps opened throughout the nation on Sunday.
So whereas many Canadians benefit from the first lengthy weekend of the summer time, the third weekend in Might is all the time a busy time for gamers and training staffs within the Canadian Soccer League.
On one hand it’s merely a single step on a six-month marathon from Might via November, however the first day of camp may be sentimental for gamers new and previous.
“With the ability to run right here and seeing the brand new faces, that is the place it began for me, the place I obtained my identify,” stated Bombers receiver Chris Matthews. “It’s superb.”
After leaving Winnipeg for the NFL in 2014, Matthews’ profession has gone full circle, returning to the location the place he was named CFL Most Excellent Rookie almost seven seasons in the past.
“I knew I used to be going to return again right here as a result of this was the place it began. I really feel like I had probably the most enjoyable right here.”
» Checking Down: Information and notes from Day 1 of camp
» Primer: A team-by-team take a look at TC19
» By means of the Lens: Pictures from Day 1 of camp
In Vancouver, the BC Lions are barely recognizable after a busy low season that noticed the membership recruit new head coach DeVone Claybrooks, receiver Duron Carter and, arguably the most important free agent signing in 20 years, quarterback Mike Reilly.
However whereas many confirmed as much as see No. 13 spin the ball, one other key participant making his debut is former NFL offensive lineman and CFL draft decide Brett Boyko, who might supply up loads of safety for the staff’s prized signing.
“I do know I’m not coming right here and that they’re simply going to place me in,” Boyko informed BCLions.com. “I’ve obtained to show that I can play and I’m going to simply accept that problem. I need to be one of the best soccer participant I may be to assist the BC Lions any means I can.”
After Sunday’s session, Boyko talked concerning the comparisons between two franchise quarterbacks in Reilly and LA Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
“At first, they’re unbelievable leaders,” defined Boyko. “You recognize it’s humorous, I advised my brother this two years in the past — ‘if I ever go to the CFL, I’d love to dam for Mike Reilly. That’s the man’.
“It’s day one so I haven’t been round him a ton, however simply assembly him and the sort of man he’s, he’s simply an impressive chief.”
The Lions might have one other new face becoming a member of them quickly in Canadian linebacker and Vancouver native Adam Konar, who has reportedly signed with the membership after being launched by Edmonton.
Simply over the Canadian Rockies was the staff getting used to life with out Reilly. Trevor Harris, Greg Ellingson, SirVincent Rogers and Jason Maas are all fairly acquainted with each other from their time in Ottawa, however not for Eskimos followers, who received their first take a look at the group’s new offensive core.
Ellingson adopted Harris to Edmonton in free company as the 2 look to select up the place they left off. But on the primary day of camp, it was a unique receiver Harris couldn’t cease speaking about: DaVaris Daniels.
“I’ve seen him play for a very long time,” Harris stated of the previous Stampeder. “I’ve seen him win rookie of the yr, make unbelievable catches. He checks each field as a receiver.
“I’m excited to throw to him and I’ve received some lofty expectations and objectives for DaVaris this yr . . . he’ll be a type of guys that rises up and also you say ‘woah, DaVaris Daniels is a 1,300, 1,400-yard receiver’.
“Hopefully we will get him concerned within the offence closely and keep wholesome, I feel he’s the type of man with that functionality.”
Whereas the Lions and Eskimos, ranked fourth and fifth respectively within the West final season, are on the lookout for higher outcomes, the defending Gray Cup Champions even have lots to show after vital turnover.
The Stamps misplaced almost two-thirds of their beginning defence together with their coordinator in Claybrooks, making for a aggressive camp on that aspect of the ball. With the secondary, linebacking core and defensive position every having a minimum of two beginning jobs up for grabs, Head Coach Dave Dickenson isn’t dwelling on the ratio.
“As an alternative of taking a look at it as ‘that is going to be Canadian, that’s going to be American’, simply go win the job, and in the event you do you’re going to be enjoying,” stated Dickenson. “What we’re principally making an attempt to say is ‘go win the job’, and that’s a number of spots.”
Dickenson wouldn’t rule out the potential of beginning two Canadians at defensive deal with following the departure of Micah Johnson. Junior Turner, Ese Mrabure and Derek Wiggan are all within the operating together with Mike Rose.
The Stamps introduced early within the day that the workforce has launched operating again and returner Romar Morris, who hasn’t but healed from a season-ending Achilles damage final November. He’s nonetheless rehabbing with the workforce nevertheless and will someday return.
In Saskatchewan, one other Dickenson is setting the desk for what could possibly be a memorable season. Craig Dickenson replaces Chris Jones because the Riders’ head coach and is gearing up for his first coaching camp on the job after serving because the group’s particular groups coordinator.
“That is my first crack at it,” stated Dickenson. “I’m going to attempt to push these guys. The balancing act is how far do you push them earlier than the purpose the place you begin dropping guys. Once I see the group begin to sluggish, I’m both going to push them in the event that they want it or I’m going to tug again.”
It was onerous to overlook Micah Johnson debuting on the defensive aspect of the ball, whereas veteran operating again William Powell and injured receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux are welcome additions to the offence. The latter, who tore his ACL again in late August, seems to be nicely forward of schedule, even making a highlight-reel catch.
“That was good to see him on the market shifting round,” stated Dickenson. “These guys are fairly superb people, they will heal up shortly. It was good to see him on the market, however our philosophy is all the time going to be to take it sluggish with guys coming off accidents, make it possible for once they’re on the market they’re 100 per cent.”
Whereas recently-signed linebacker Solomon Elimimian was not obtainable on Sunday, the Riders are hoping some new veteran management, together with a yr of continuity with returning quarterback Zach Collaros, will make them a a lot improved staff in 2019.
“If there’s one factor everybody is aware of about Manny it’s how arduous of a employee he’s,” stated Collaros. “I’m not stunned to see him out right here operating round already, it’s only a testomony to him and his work ethic.
“He’s going to deliver rather a lot to the locker-room, so much to that receiver room and quite a bit to the offence generally simply from his management so I’m excited to be his teammate and excited to have him right here.”
Dickenson additionally introduced that Dan Cark, who was in a automotive accident a few weeks in the past, is across the staff and near returning, whereas first spherical draft decide Justin McInnis is working his method in slowly. Second spherical decide Brayden Lenius left apply after injuring his hamstring.
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In Winnipeg, Bombers followers are ecstatic to have simply landed a official complement to Darvin Adams at receiver within the bodily Chris Matthews. Matthews, who turns 30 in October, famous that the tradition has modified since he left in 2014, hinting in the direction of nice issues in 2019.
On the opposite aspect of the ball, simply as impactful must be defensive finish Willie Jefferson, who provides the Bombers among the best defensive strains on paper reverse Jackson Jeffcoat.
“That’s been on my thoughts since I signed right here over the low season,” Jefferson stated of the staff’s new-look cross rush. “It’s going to be enjoyable, it’s going to be quick, it’s going to be bodily and it’s going to be robust. That’s what we need to deliver to the desk from the start of the yr, simply to be a troublesome entrance line.”
The Bombers’ O-line may even be some extent of emphasis in camp, because the staff opened Sunday with Geoff Grey at proper guard and Michael Couture at centre. Fortunate Whitehead and Charles Nelson are competing to be the workforce’s main kick returner and each have velocity to burn.
At receiver, the staff has positioned Kenbrell Thompkins on the suspended listing after he did not report back to camp.
Shifting to the East, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are the favorite to win the division on paper. However first-time head coach Orlondo Steinauer was maintaining his group grounded on Sunday, as he assembles a new-look teaching employees that additionally consists of offensive coordinator Tommy Condell and defensive coordinator Mark Washington.
Lengthy-time foe Chris Van Zeyl, who spent 11 seasons with the hated Toronto Argonauts, has all of the sudden develop into a pal in Hamilton, signing a two-year cope with the membership and taking first-team reps at proper deal with. If Van Zeyl begins he’ll present speedy ratio flexibility as a fourth Canadian starter up entrance.
“You by no means understand how issues are going to fall,” stated Steinauer. “Chris Van Zeyl ought to be a pleasant addition. He’s been there, he’s a champion. His play speaks for itself.”
Talking of ratio flexibility, versatile defender Jackson Bennett, the workforce’s second spherical draft decide in 2018, seems to have switched sides on the depth chart, becoming a member of the offensive backfield as a operating again. Bennett makes up a trio of Canadian operating backs that additionally consists of returning Sean Thomas-Erlington and 2019 draft decide Maleek Irons.
“We simply type of appeared extra at what was his greatest probability to contribute,” stated Steinauer. “We felt he had a greater probability on paper heading into coaching camp on offence. We haven’t had in-depth conversations concerning the ratio. We simply need to see how individuals come out of camp wholesome. We undoubtedly have ratio flexibility so we’re taking a look at all choices proper now.”
Canadian receivers Mike Jones and Shamawd Chambers lined up out extensive, whereas 2019 second spherical decide David Ungerer had a powerful first day of camp lining up within the slot behind Luke Tasker.
Simply up the QEW the Argos are additionally starting a brand new period, as Head Coach Corey Chamblin begins his second head teaching job at 41 years previous. Coaching camp will deliver loads of competitors after the workforce launched veterans Chris Van Zeyl and Bear Woods, however the largest competitors may simply be at kicker the place two extra additions arrived in Donald De La Haye and Canadian Tyler Crapigna.
James Franklin, who’s trying to assert himself on the prime of the Argos’ depth chart this camp, wore his new No. eight for the primary time, however had a well-known new connection at receiver in former Eskimos teammate Derel Walker.
Whereas the Argos hope that a new-look defence can cause them to the highest of the East, the inverse is true in Ottawa the place the REDBLACKS have been decimated this low season. Trevor Harris, Greg Ellingson, Diontae Spencer, William Powell and SirVincent Rogers are not with the membership, whereas the departure of offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo leaves lots to determine within the nation’s capital.
The most important query is at quarterback, the place returning backup Dominique Davis will battle free agent signing Jonathon Jennings for the beginning job.
“It’s an open competitors between Dominique and Jonathon,” stated Head Coach Campbell. “You in all probability observed Dominique was going first at present, we’re going to flip this tomorrow, they already knew this forward of time.
“The one rule we’re following is what provides us one of the best probability to win,” he added. “I don’t thoughts it. Typically it may be extra snug if you recognize who the man is, however any competitors at any place tends to have individuals stand up. Each these guys have gone by means of a rookie camp, they’re each very succesful guys and I’m excited to see what occurs.”
The primary day of coaching camp all the time brings surprises, and on Sunday the most important might have come from furthest east. The Montreal Alouettes made a collection of roster strikes as they took the sector at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, most notably dropping veteran receiver Ernest Jackson.
Montreal hosts one of many largest camp battles throughout the nation this spring, as 23-year-old Antonio Pipkin tries to carry down the highest quarterback job on a busy depth chart that additionally consists of Vernon Adams Jr., Jeff Mathews and Matthew Shiltz.
It was an thrilling day of soccer throughout the nation, and the journey continues on Tuesday. There’s little time to waste because the pre-season schedule begins on Sunday, Might 26 when the Lions head to Edmonton for a conflict with the Eskimos.
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