5 Quick Hits on Day 12 of Blue Bombers training camp:
1. THE NEWS ON DARVIN: The Blue Bombers got a scare during Tuesday’s late-afternoon practice when veteran receiver Darvin Adams went down after a reception with an apparent arm/shoulder injury and did not finish practice. Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea provided an update on Adams prior to Wednesday’s practice session.
“I expect he’ll miss a fairly short period of time and be back,” said O’Shea. “I don’t expect this to be a long-term thing. He’ll be fine, I’m sure he’ll be fine.”
The Bombers return all of their starting receivers from the 2019 Grey Cup in Adams, Nic Demski, Kenny Lawler, Rasheed Bailey and Drew Wolitarsky. O’Shea was asked about the collection of newcomers in camp, now totalling 11 with the release Wednesday of Quadree Henderson.
“I do think we’ve got a real talented group of receivers out there practising” he said. “All the guys returning that we have a lot of information on (after signing them in 2020) are really good and they’ve gotten better. They understand the playbook for another year and a bunch of Zoom meetings and, for the most part, they’re in pretty good shape. It’s exciting and I know Buck (Pierce, Offensive Coordinator) is excited with the group we have and then some of the new guys we brought in are certainly showing off their various talents.”
The coach also provided a progress report on RB Andrew Harris, who hasn’t been practising since early in camp.
“He’s certainly is progressing,” said O’Shea. “He spends a lot of time with Al (Couture, Head Athletic Therapist) and they are joined at the hip for the mornings as he gets ready. I still think another week (off) is probably good. Andrew really doesn’t need any reps. What happens with guys that are so competitive is they forget how much experience they have, which is probably a good thing, and they want all the reps. Then it’s our job to manage that, scale it back.
“Part of the deal is we need to take a look at the other guys, too. There’s some benefit all round, although I’m sure Andrew doesn’t see it like that. He wants to be out there on the field and we’re holding him back.”
2. THE COMPETITION IS AFOOT: New K Tyler Crapigna practised with the Bombers on Thursday after being signed following his release by the Montreal Alouettes earlier this week. His arrival means 2020 draft pick Marc Liegghio now has some competition in camp.
“The decision all along was that (Justin) Medlock was going to be here,” said O’Shea on the move to bring in Crapigna, a CFL vet with experience in both Saskatchewan and Toronto. “When we drafted Marc the expectation was Meddy was going to be here and Marc was going to have a great tutor and Meddy was going to play probably as long as he wanted to play. That didn’t happen. Then as plans change and we go about our business we look around the league and see what teams are doing with their situations.
“We drafted Marc and think very highly of him, but I wouldn’t say it was always our plan to always have one, it was just make sure we had the right fit if we were going to bring another one in.
“My expectation for both Marc and Tyler is that they kick well and they compete and we make a decision from there. Marc kicked very well the last couple of days and he punted exceptionally well yesterday. He’s certainly rounding into the form that made us think very highly of him coming out of Western.”
Liegghio had one iffy day in the field-goal department in camp, but has shown signs of progression. He’s also showcased a live leg in terms of punting, which Crapigna doesn’t handle.
“I didn’t think I was going to be the only guy here for the majority of (camp),” said Liegghio. “It’s a good test for me. It’s always good to have competition in camp and I look forward to battling it out.
“I know I had a little bit of an iffy day the one day, but from that day I’ve built up. I have some pretty good days ahead of me and I’m just going to keep building and doing better every day because I know what I’m capable of and that one day wasn’t a good day for me and I know that and it’s not acceptable from me.”
Liegghio said he was made aware the club was bringing in Crapigna the day before it was announced and that the coaches told him “just keep doing you. You’ve been having great days. Just go out there and keep having those amazing days and that’s what I’m planning on doing. I haven’t really got a chance to meet (Crapigna) yet, but I’m pretty familiar with him. I know he’s a veteran and it’s going to be nice to learn some of the things he’s done in the CFL and some of the techniques he goes through.”
3. SMOKE ALARM: The Bombers moved Wednesday’s practice time from morning to the afternoon for the second day in a row because of the poor air quality.
“Part of the process is keeping players healthy and monitoring the situation,” said O’Shea. “There’s people in the organization that are always checking that and one of the benefits of having the CPL bubble here is through FIFA rules is they’re always monitoring air quality, so we have access to that information. The air wasn’t good enough in the morning when we tested it, it cleared at a certain point. I put our players through a bit of a wringer because I had them in and we changed the daily plan, there was a bit of waiting around that certainly wasn’t ideal and then when I said ‘Let’s go’ they were ready to go and we went out there and had a good practice.”
4. OF FLOWERS AND GOOGLE MAPS…: Bomber players had been doing any number of different things over the course of the pandemic and the loss of the 2020 Canadian Football League season to make ends meet. Case in point, Bombers guard Paddy Neufeld served as a delivery man for Callia Flowers and also drove a Google Maps car around Saskatchewan for the last four months.
“The flower-delivery was just driving around dropping things off… nothing crazy,” said Neufeld when asked to share his experiences. “The Google Maps was cool being able to drive around to places in the province I’ve never been to, getting to drive pretty far up north in the province and getting into the Canadian Shield was pretty cool. Seeing bears running off the side of the road and visiting some smaller communities I’ve never seen before was pretty neat. There’s a lot of beauty in this country and it was cool to check it out.”
Neufeld said he had a car delivered to him from California when the big decals on the side and the camera mounted on top of the vehicle.
“You would definitely get some unique reactions,” he said. “You would either get the thumbs up and the waving or you’d get the middle finger.”
5. FYI: A number of fans are asking about getting access to watch Bombers training-camp practices, as has been the case with other teams opening up for their faithful over the last few days. The Bombers aren’t practising at IG Field, but at the field adjacent to the Subway Soccer Complex. Teams in other markets are able to welcome fans to areas of their home stadiums and ensure they are far enough from the players, but that isn’t currently possible here and won’t be so until the Canadian Premier League’s Kickoff event currently underway at IG Field is completed.
That event, FYI, runs through to this Saturday. After that, the football lines would need to be painted on IG Field before the Bombers could begin practising there.