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© 2023 CFL. All rights reserved.
© 2023 CFL. All rights reserved.
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are not looking to slow down.
After three straight Grey Cup appearances (and winning two titles), the Bombers continue to fire on all cylinders as they soar through training camp action.
Wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky noted that in his five previous years in Winnipeg he had never seen a training camp with such a fast pace from the get go.
“Maybe he just hasn’t noticed,” said a smirking Mike O’Shea to bluebombers.com. “The guys who were at rookie camp get a certain number of installs, they repeat them very quickly and within one day they are on to football 301, 401 very quickly.
“We are not going to slow down to have guys catch up. We are going to push the bar there so that guys know what they have to achieve standard-wise.”
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Staying at the top isn’t just about keeping the same group of veterans, but also bringing in new guys who can contribute, even if not right away.
That’s the case with Josh Jones and Tyrell Pigrome, two quarterbacks signed in May who are just starting their journeys in the CFL.
“Different quarterbacks, obviously,” said O’Shea on what he learned about the two signal-callers in training camp. “Josh has the ability to get through the reads quickly and get rid of the ball. (Pigrome) obviously is super athletic and can use his feet and extend plays, really strong arm too.
“They are both different and they are both still trying to have a better understanding of the CFL game, the receivers, the waggle and all that, but they seem to be picking up very quickly.”
Pigrome played for the University of Maryland (2016-2019), Western Kentucky University (2020) and Towson State (2022). He was with Ole Miss in 2021 but did not play. The 25-year-old threw for 1,638 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2022 for the Tigers and rushed for 574 yards and two touchdowns.
Jones and Pigrome join a quarterback room that has a lot of experience. Starter Zach Collaros is a three-time Grey Cup champion and two-time Most Outstanding Player, while presumed backup Dru Brown is entering his third season in Winnipeg.
Being part of a veteran group that has been together for a while – and doesn’t slow down for anyone – means extra challenge for quarterbacks trying to get acclimated with the league all the while carving a spot for themselves on the team.
“You want to see growth through training camp,” said O’Shea about the expectations. “You want to see them in the meeting area continue to learn and grow.
“You want to see them be able to take what they see in practice and put that on the field.”
That means that when the Bombers take on the Elks in preseason on May 27, 4 p.m. ET, there will be a lot on the line for both young quarterbacks.
“Our coaches are gonna give them some things they are good at and things that will challenge them to see what they have learned,” O’Shea said about their upcoming preseason debut.
“You certainly want them to have some success out there and give them some positivity so they can grow further from that too. I think our guys have a good understanding of who these guys are and I think the game should cement that.”