5 Quick Hits on Day 6 of Blue Bombers training camp:
1. QB WATCH: It’s hardly a newsflash that Zach Collaros and Sean McGuire are 1-2 on the Blue Bombers QB depth chart. That means that a lot of eyes have been on the two new pivots in camp in Dru Brown and Dalton Sneed, both of whom spoke to the media after practice on Thursday.
Both players spoke touched on the speed of the game and adapting to the ‘Waggle’ — the ability for receivers to be in motion before the snap — while soaking up as much info as possible from Collaros, McGuire and offensive coordinator Buck Pierce.
They also spoke of the culture with the Bombers.
“It’s amazing. Everyone is so welcoming,” said Sneed, who spent his last two years at the University of Montana. “The biggest thing is the vets… they’re extending hands out to everybody — to rookies, to guys on their second year still trying to learn. Zach, I’m closest to him as a quarterback, and he’s always trying to help Dru and I and Sean. If we ever have a question we go to him and he’s the first one to explain and break it down for us.
“That goes for every veteran. I mean, I see if everywhere I look. Guys, if I pass them and we haven’t met, we meet each other. That’s the environment we have. Everyone wants to have a personal relationship and really bu”ld the team. The camaraderie is unbelievable here in Winnipeg… you wonder why Winnipeg has had so much success, it’s because they’re a team. They’re truly a team on and off the field.”
Brown, who transferred from Hawaii to Oklahoma State, also raved about what he has seen here with the Bombers.
“I can’t speak enough about how helpful Sean and Zach have been with helping me and Dalton grasp everything as a whole and always being open with us asking questions,” he said. “I mean, I ask Zach a ton of questions all the time. First, the fact that they don’t get annoyed with me is beyond me. But I’m really appreciative of them, for sure.”
2. GLOBAL REPORT: DE Thiadric Hansen’s improvement from his first training camp in 2019 until now has been, frankly, phenomenal. He does everything at full speed and had a monster day on Thursday, especially on the inside-run period.
Here’s O’Shea on the five global players in camp:
Hansen (Germany): “He was on the field and had a very large impact throughout the (2019) season and especially in the playoffs — not just the big hit in the Grey Cup. He had a couple outstanding plays against Saskatchewan, too.”
DB Sergio Schiaffino-Perez (Mexico): “He’s got a high-level football IQ and if he got his chance we would love to get him on the field and get him on special teams. He’s fearless.”
LB Les Maruo (Japan): “He’s played top-notch football down in the states, so he’s quite accustomed to his game and there’s not a lot of flaws in that. This is his first pro camp and he’s running around, so there’s a bit of growth in terms of that… he’s excited, he caused a fumble yesterday. He flies around, he’s certainly very likeable.”
OL Tomoya Machino (Japan): “His feet are unbelievable. As an athlete he’s extremely quick. Yesterday I saw him get edged out on a one-on-one and he recovered so quickly, it was fantastic to see. It’s just going to take him a little bit of time to get adjusted to the speed and strength. But as far as what Marty (Costello, offensive line coach) has to work with, he’s an exceptional athlete.”
LB Ayo Oyelola (UK): ” A terrific athlete, he’s younger in the game than a guy like Les. He’s got to develop his instincts a little bit and that just comes with a little bit more experience.”
3. FYI/RANDOM OBSERVATIONS: Not practising Thursday were: RBs Andrew Harris and Johnny Augustine, OL Michael Couture, DE Jackson Jeffcoat, WR Cam Meredith and LB Robbie Lowes. O’Shea said Jeffcoat will get a rest ‘every so often.’… Among the many stand-out TD catches on Thursday were ArDarius Stewart and Alonzo Russel, Sr. from Brown, Rasheed Bailey, Nick Demski and Kenny Lawler from Collaros. Also standing out were WR Blake Jackson, DB Mercy Maston, DE Willie Jefferson and LB Adam Bighill with an interception… O’Shea was asked again about no preseason games and how that impacts, in particular, the QBs. “This is the time we’re in and they have to own that like we do, too. I don’t know that you put much more thought into it besides that. You can’t dwell on what we did two years ago because it doesn’t matter this year. Every rep is important in training camp and you’d like to say that every single year. A lot of players come in and if they’re professional they treat it as such. This year it’s probably even more so; the concept that every rep is important in practice.”
4. A GOOD CHEMISTRY BREWING: One of the most-obvious developments of the first couple of days of full practices at Blue Bombers training camp has been how much Collaros and his receiving corps have benefitted from working from the starting line together.
“You look at that veteran receiving corps and the guys being not so much involved in the learning process but being able to go out there and play fast,” said Buck Pierce. “As a quarterback you pick up on those things. You pick up on keys. You pick up on how certain guys do certain things out there.
“Zach, when he came to us in 2019, had to learn on the fly which was very impressive. Now, being able to be in camp together, spending a lot of time to get to know each other and work on that chemistry which has been so important. It’s them also teaching Zach, which is very interesting. It’s been really good to have that two-way communication.”
5. THE LAST WORD: Huge news on Wednesday for the CFL, for the Blue Bombers, for Canada with the announcement that the club will be able to have full capacity at IG FIeld for the league opener on August 5th. The details of that story are here.
O’Shea also weighed in on that with a big-picture take.
“That’s one of the things that was going to be important to our franchise and the entire CFL. It”s a great indicator of where we’re coming as a nation in terms of us as a group of people, as a country, defeating COVID and getting vaccinated and returning to some sense of normalcy. Obviously when August 5th rolls around that will be a massive event that people will want to attend. It will be exciting and besides the football game, I think people will just be excited to be sitting shoulder to shoulder with people cheering and being outside and doing something other than what we’ve been doing for the last year and a half.”