Even now, given the months and months to reflect and rewind, Chris Streveler will admit that his first year in professional football was an absolute thrill ride.
Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans all know how it unfolded, as Streveler went from battling for the third-string gig when camp opened to be handed the starting chores a few weeks later.
Not only was he the first straight-from-college QB to start an opener in the Canadian Football League since Anthony Calvillo led the Las Vegas Posse out of the tunnel in Week 1 in 1994, but he helped the Bombers more than just tread water in the absence of Matt Nichols.
And by season’s end, Streveler had morphed into a unique offensive threat working the Bombers short-yardage package and occasionally staying on the field to offer the offence a different look.
“It was kind of a crazy season last year with everything happening,” Streveler said this week. “I signed on, was competing for the third-string job, the back-up retires, last practice of camp and Matt goes down so I’m starting and I’ve been up here for one month. That was just a crazy process. And then there was everything throughout the season and making it to the West Final and getting to play so much throughout the year.”
Streveler looks to throw a pass during Bombers training camp (BlueBombers.com)
“I’m really thankful for those opportunities, but I think that having to play so early and so often really forced me to grow up and to become a professional really quickly. Obviously I watched how Matt prepared throughout the year and at the beginning I was starting so… all the backups say throughout the year ‘I’m going to prepare like I’m starting.’ Well, I was starting and I was preparing really, really hard, so it held me to that standard of if I’m going to say I’m preparing like I’m starting I have to do it like I was doing in those first three weeks and working on putting that time in. I think it definitely helped out my progression, but also probably made me a better quarterback and a better teammate being ready to go whenever I got my opportunities.”
That’s the kind of self-awareness that doesn’t just endear Streveler to his teammates, but to the coaching staff as well. As everyone in Bomber Nation saw last year, it’s also part of the genuineness that is the overall Streveler package.
So, the question swirling around the Bombers No. 2 QB as 2019 camp continues is this: what should we expect from Streveler in his sophomore season?
Streveler listed a few aspects of his game he wanted to improve on this year, including ‘polishing up’ his work in the pocket and continuing to get more comfortable recognizing coverages going through his progressions faster.
Yet, given all the work he got last year, it could also be said his development has also been advanced that much faster than a lot of second-year pivots in this league. And for the Bombers and their offence, that’s a dandy development.
“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable going into year two, which I think is to be expected. Just in general it’s seeing the field, being comfortable with the playbook, being comfortable with teammates… just everything.”
Streveler enjoyed a successful rookie season with the Blue Bombers (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)
“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable going into year two, which I think is to be expected,” said Streveler. “Just in general it’s seeing the field, being comfortable with the playbook, being comfortable with teammates… just everything. It’s a really good feeling being back out here. Obviously I still have a lot of development every single day that I need to do in the film room and out on the field.”
Streveler bounced around this off-season, going from Vermillion S.D, to Chicago to Vancouver and Minneapolis. He worked with a receiver leading up to his pro day, trained with Adam Bighill’s strength coach in Vancouver for a bit before settling in with his buddy Drew Wolitarsky in Minneapolis in the last month before heading back to Winnipeg for camp.
Asked this week what role he sees for himself in the Bombers offence this year, Streveler just shrugged.
“I’m not really too concerned with it at the moment, to be honest with you,” he said. “For me right now it’s just about getting better every day. That’s not something I can really control in terms of what my role is. My role on this team is to come out and work as hard as I can every day and whatever happens after that is what happens. I want to be the best teammate I can be, continue to come out and work hard in the film room, work hard on the field and try to get better every day.”
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