BRADENTON, FL – With the cold climate still in control throughout Saskatchewan, the Roughriders have been seeking refuge in the northern Florida city of Bradenton, where they’ve been hosting their annual spring mini-camp.
In total, 57 players were invited by the Riders to the camp; the group of invitees ranging from players who were with the team last season, to those who are currently on the franchise’s negotiation list.
While it’s difficult to immediately identify any future CFL stars based on camp performances alone, both head coach Corey Chamblin and General Manager Brendan Taman were keeping their eyes peeled for key indicators.
“Yeah I think the guys did an excellent job, they were all competitive. They were all in pretty good shape and doing good things,” said Chamblin.
“They were professionals and I think we have some professional ball players there and even the young guys showed they can be professionals,” he added.
Adding even more importance to the Florida business trip is the fact that the Riders have lost some top-notch talent throughout the off-season.
Gone are the likes of Kory Sheets (Oakland, NFL), Weston Dressler (Kansas City, NFL) and Craig Butler (Hamilton), who each played massive roles in securing the Riders’ historic Grey Cup championship last November.
Interestingly enough, Sheets first caught the attention of the Riders brass at a free agent camp as well, which is why no stone will be left unturned by Chamblin and Taman.
“That’s partly it, we still need to go do what we need to do and evaluate ourselves,” said Taman.
“It’s a work in progress, it’s always something that you need to keep in mind and guys go up and down by the hour, so it’s a constant evaluation, but it’s been a good camp,” he added.
One player that impressed both Taman and Chamblin was Chaz Schilens, a 28-year-old receiver out of San Diego, who has been wearing Geroy Simon’s #81 throughout the camp.
Schilens, who last saw action in 2012 with the NFL’s New York Jets, says he’ll contribute any way he can if given the opportunity.
“You guys (Riders fans) already have a high quality championship team and anything I can help to continue that championship attitude and excellence I’d be glad,” he said.
“Other than that I want to be a tough, durable and dependable receiver.”
While Schilens will certainly be given the chance to show that he deserves a roster spot, another battle on the offensive side of the ball has garnered some attention from Chamblin’s staff.
With incumbent pivot Darian Durant sitting out the workouts with an illness, backups Tino Sunseri and Seth Doege have been receiving a sufficient amount of reps thus far.
And according to Chamblin, so far, so good.
“They did a pretty good job, those guys probably haven’t thrown many balls in a while, so some of their arms were tired and different things like that,” he said.
“Some spent some time with their mechanics and getting used to how George coaches and different things. I thought they did an okay job at this point. No one is a starter today, but they did a good job.”