Saturday, May 27, 2017
Questions Abound as Rider Training Camp Hits
The wait is over! Rider training camp begins as another season gets underway. As the excitement for another year gets started, there are questions that need to be asked that will hopefully get answered over the next few weeks as the team gets ready for its season opener against Darian Durant and the Alouettes on June 22. Here are some of the questions I have going in
1. WHERE DOES VINCE YOUNG END UP ON THE DEPTH CHART?
All eyes will be on the former NFL quarterback who hasn't played a competitive football game in many years. Will he be able to understand the Canadian game to continue on as a member of the team moving forward or will the grind of a CFL camp and the nuances of the Canadian game be too much for the former University of Texas standout. Young looked good at the Florida mini-camp, but we know those camps don't see a lot of 12 on 12 action if any. There is still a lot for Young to learn. I would have to think Kevin Glenn comes in as the starter, but if Young makes the team will he be the backup or the clipboard holder. I would think Brandon Bridge would like Young to hold the clipboard. It will be up to Young to show Chris Jones and Rider Nation what he can do.
2. STRENGTHENING THE O-LINE
I don't think it is any secret the Rider weakness last year was the offensive line. They allowed 57 sacks while using 10 bodies. Getting Derek Dennis in free agency should fix that. Having a healthy Brendon Labatte also helps. How much progress does Josiah St. John take from year 1 to year 2 and is the number one pick overall in the 2016 draft ready to establish himself? I don't think its any secret to think Dennis, Labatte and Dan Clark can be pencilled in as starters, but after that I'm not sure and I don't know if Chris Jones and company know at this time either.
3. WHO IS THE STARTING RB?
At the end of the season this wasn't a question, but the tragic shooting of Joe McKnight meant the team had a hole to fill seeing Curtis Steele left via free agency. Former NFL running back Daniel Thomas and former Bomber Cameron Marshall will vie for that job as will Kienan Lafrance who was brought in via free agency from Ottawa. Lafrance had a break-out game in the Eastern final, and obviously the Riders are hoping that performance was the tip of the iceberg. Marshall may be the odds-on favourite to start the season.
4. WHO IS THE STARTING SAFETY?
This question may have gotten a lot easier with word Saturday afternoon that Marc-Olivier Brouilette has decided to retire. It may answer why the team went out and traded for Mike Edem late in the off-season.. I would have to think Edem is the favourite to take the job now.
5. CAMERON JUDGE
As of the time of this posting, the Riders first round draft pick Cameron Judge is not signed, sealed and delivered. The UCLA linebacker needs to get into camp ASAP much like St. John last year. Losing reps at the start of the camp and not being there with the guys can mean that hill gets steeper and steeper for the rookie. Just ask St. John
6. WHAT ROOKIES WILL SHINE?
Every year in every camp there are rookies that turn head during camp, and there are rookies that have expectations on them coming in. I want to see what DB Zavian Bingham can do after having a great Florida rookie camp, and I have heard nothing but great things about receiver Mitchell Baines who will try to fit in to what is an already stacked group of pass-catchers. Obviously, you want to see how Rams receiver and 2017 draft pick Mitch Picton will do with DB's Alfonso Dennard and Erick Dargan being guys that I think have a future with this team moving forward.
7. WHAT VETS ARE ON THE BUBBLE?
Can that question be answered before camp gets started? I think we need to see a few days of two-a-days and perhaps a game before that can be answered.
8. IS THIS A PLAYOFF TEAM?
I would think it has to be considering what has happened the last two years. The pressure is on Chris Jones and company. Some believe this team can compete for a playoff spot, but I think the best they can do as it stands today is 3rd place behind BC and Calgary. Are they better right now than Edmonton or Winnipeg? That might be the biggest question of all!
Let the long road to the Grey Cup begin!