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May 10, 2022

Rookie Camp Primer

Winnipeg Blue Bombers Head Coach Mike O'Shea addresses his team after a morning workout during a team mini-camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton Florida on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Photo by Tom O'Neill

The fight for jobs with the back-to-back Grey-Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers begins in 3…2…1… And it should be as riveting and compelling as any reality show on television.

The Blue Bombers open their 2022 rookie camp Wednesday morning at the Winnipeg Soccer Federation South Complex, a precursor to main training camp which is scheduled to begin on Sunday depending, of course, on the ongoing collective bargaining discussions between the CFL and the CFL Players’ Association.

The club added seven American players on Tuesday in quarterback Jake Floriea, defensive back Javon Jackson, running back Vance Barnes, linebacker Darian Taylor, and receivers BJ Muckelvene, TJ Hammonds and Tavonn Salter, while also adding Canadian offensive lineman Brandon Sanford of UBC and releasing defensive back Robert Priester.

Get used to that kind of roster movement, too, as teams shape their squads through two preseason games and into the real action. The Blue Bombers have their first dress rehearsal on May 23rd in Saskatchewan, before Edmonton is here on May 27th.  The curtain lifts on the regular season at home against the Ottawa RedBlacks on June 10th. Here’s a quick primer to get fans ready for the three-day rookie camp:

FIVE TO WATCH

#83 WR Dalton Schoen: A walk-on at Kansas State, Schoen became a starter as a sophomore and ultimately earned a contract with the Los Angeles Chargers as an undrafted free agent. He’s also had looks from Kansas City and Washington.

#57 OL Pat Allen: Began his college career at Georgia, starting a game at guard for the Bulldogs in 2017, before transferring to Southeastern Louisiana. In 2019 he was a FC Coaches’ Second Team All-American with the Lions.

#49 DB Corey Straughter: Signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars last year. Was injured in his senior season at Louisiana-Munroe and appeared in just three games. Led the Sun Belt Conference with five interceptions in 2019 and was a first team All-Sun Belt selection.

#52 DE L.B. Mack III:  Comes to the Blue Bombers straight from the University of Rhode Island where he finished his career second in program history in tackles and fourth in sacks. Started 11 games as an outside linebacker and was a CAA Football All-Conference Second Team all-star last season.

#29 DB Jermaine Ponder: Good size at 6-2, 200, Ponder spent part of last year on the Montreal Alouettes practice squad. He’s had NFL looks from Cleveland, Houston and Pittsburgh and was with the Seattle Dragons in the XFL when the league folded in March of 2020.

THE QBs

#18 Dru Brown: Dressed for two regular-season games for the Blue Bombers last season and saw his first action in the finale, completing 7-of-14 passes for 49 yards with no TDs or picks and rushing seven times for 44 yards. Sean McGuire has moved on from football and the club did sign CFL veteran Dakota Prukop as insurance behind Zach Collaros.

#14 Jake Floriea: Finished his college career last season at John Carroll, throwing for 19 touchdowns and 2,515 yards – both career highs. Was an 2021 Honorable Mention All-OAC. Previous to John Carroll he played for Penn and the University of Toledo.

#15 QB Jackson Tachinski, University of Manitoba: Will be with the club as part of the CFL’s U Sports Canadian Quarterback Internship Program. Tachinski became the starter for the Bisons last year when fifth-year starter Des Catellier suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1. He helped guide the Bisons to their first Hardy Cup appearance since 2014.

LOCAL FLAVOUR

#97 DT Cole Adamson,  University of Manitoba: Selected in the fourth round, 38th overall in the CFL Draft last week. He was a Canada West All-Star in 2021 and plans to head back to school in the fall. Big, athletic tackle with enormous upside.

Winnipeg Rifles

#0 Luke McMillan, WR
#62 Miguel Leano, OL
#14 Joseph Funk-Clements, DB
#15 Kyle Chorney, DB

WELCOME ABOARD

Taylor MacIntyre, McMaster University receivers coach – Joining the Bombers for training camp as part of the Women in Football Program. She is not only at McMaster, but also serves as the Receivers Coach for Team Ontario’s U-18 Women’s tackle program. She’ll spend four weeks with the club during camp.

Josh Sacobie, Carleton Ravens QB coach/manager of programs – Will be with the Bombers as part of the CFL’s ‘Diversity in Football Program’ that places coaches or athletic therapist with teams across the league throughout training camp and for at least one preseason game.

PRACTICE TIMES

All rookie camp practices are taking place at the field beside the Winnipeg Soccer Federation South complex

Wednesday, May 11 – 10:30 a.m.- 12:45 p.m.
Thursday, May 12 – 10:15 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.
Friday, May 13 – 10:15 a.m.- 12:25 p.m.