Notes and quotes from Blue Bombers training camp on Day 10…
GETTING CLOSER: Saturday’s preseason game in Edmonton is inching closer and with that the opportunity to lock up some work for veterans and fresh faces.
Quarterback Josh Jones, a first-year pro straight from Division II University of North Carolina-Pembrooke, is one of those new players trying to make a good impression.
“I’m excited. It will be a good opportunity to get out there and get some live reps,” Jones said Tuesday after practice. “I’ve been doing the training camp life for 2-2 1/2 weeks now and so it’ll be exciting to get out there, go against another opponent and get my feet wet in a CFL game.”
Blue Bombers Assistant GM/Director of Player Personnel Danny McManus saw Jones in the FCS National Bowl in Daytona Beach, Fla. and that earned him an invitation to one of the team’s free-agent camps in Atlanta in late April. A couple days later he got a phone call from the club with a rookie camp invitation.
“I feel pretty good about where I’m at right now, but there’s still a ways to go,” said Jones, who started for five years at UNC-Pembrooke, including as a freshman. “I think I’ve come in here with that mindset and I think I’ve taken another step each day. That’s my goal: to come out here and get one percent better, one play better, each day. Learn from my past mistakes the next day and if I do that I think I’ll stack up some pretty good things.
“That’s part of the journey — you get an opportunity and you try to make the most of it, so that’s what I’m doing. I don’t what I’d be doing, but I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that right now. So, I’m getting ready for Edmonton. I’m super-grateful to be here, for sure.”
There’s a route to a roster spot with the Blue Bombers as a third-down/short yardage specialist with Jones battling Towson State product Tyrrell Pigrome.
“Different quarterbacks, obviously,” said head coach Mike O’Shea. “Josh has the ability to get through the read quickly and get rid of the ball. And Piggy is super-athletic and can use his feet to really extend plays and he’s got a really strong arm, too. They’re both different and they’re both trying to have a better understanding of the CFL game with the extra defender and the receivers with the Waggle and all that stuff. But they both seem to be picking it up fairy quickly.”
Asked what the coaching staff would like to see from them Saturday and through the rest of camp, O’Shea said:
“You want to see growth in training camp and you want to see them in the meeting area to continue to learn and grow. You want to see them be able to put that on the field — take what they can do well in practice and put that on the field. From a coaching standpoint, our coaches are going to give them some things that they are good at and give them some things that will challenge them to see if they’ve learned. You certainly want them to have some success out there and give them some positivity so they can grow further from that, too.
“Our guys have a good understanding of who these guys are and the game should cement that.”
FYI: A number of players did not practice or were limited on Tuesday including Jackson Jeffcoat, Adam Bighill, Brady Oliveira, Cam Lawson, Greg McCrae, Tui Eli, Marc Liegghio, Konner Burtenshaw, Desmond Lawrence, Winston Rose and more. Asked if he could sense players getting excited about Saturday’s game, O’Shea said:
“Right now, they need rest. They need a few days to recuperate. I think they’re a little bit tired right now. In a couple of days if you ask that question they would absolutely be looking forward to seeing a different opponent.”
O’Shea on Ricky Walker, who headed into camp as the leading candidate to replace Casey Sayles, who signed with Hamilton in free agency: “Athletic. Strong. Fits with the guys. Has been here and knows what we’re doing — all those things add up to him being able to get in there and do it. And he has for us. He’s been out there and made plays for us for two years now.”
The Elks will be playing their second preseason game on Saturday after opening with Monday’s game in Calgary in which many of their starters did not dress. Asked if that might impact the Blue Bombers roster this weekend, O’Shea was straightforward:
“We’ve got a plan. We know what we want to do. We’ll execute our plan regardless of opponent, place, whatever.”
NEXT: The Blue Bombers practice on Wednesday from 10:45 a.m.-1 p.m. at IG Field. All practices are open to the public.