By Darrin Bauming (@DarrinBauming)
— ChrisD.ca (@ChrisDca) April 26, 2017
WINNIPEG — A decidedly different approach will be taken by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as they kicked-off their annual spring mini-camp at Investors Group Field on Wednesday morning. Day 1 of official on-field activities in Winnipeg saw 33 hopefuls hit the turf — as well as four quarterbacks — vying for a shot at main training camp in late May.
The objective of this year’s three-day camp is a significant shift from recent years, where most recently in 2016 being purely an exercise for the entire offence, veterans and all, to learn a new Paul LaPolice system.
“This is an evaluation camp. We’re trying to figure out which of these guys comes to the next opportunity,” said head coach Mike O’Shea following a blustery and cold day that saw a morning and afternoon session at the stadium on the University of Manitoba campus.
“There is, obviously, some installation, some meeting time and some film time with these guys. But it’s all part of the process of evaluating a player — how they learn, how they pay attention in a meeting. Are they able to make corrections? Do they go home at night and make corrections and study their plays and come back and know a little bit more than they did before?”
Unlike in years past, where the talent-thin core of the club caused management to scour North America and the CFL free agent market for help anywhere they could get it, the Bombers are riding momentum, fresh off an 11-win season and a playoff appearance in 2016. Frankly, the club’s overall talent is lightyears ahead of where it was just a couple of seasons ago.
But that all means little at this juncture, as football remains football, with competition being the key factor and driving force behind everything — especially at evaluation camps like this one.
“That’s just the life — you have to love it. If you don’t like competing then you shouldn’t be on the field,” said linebacker Kyle Knox with a laugh. The second-year Blue Bomber holds the inside track on the vacant starting middle linebacker spot in the heart of the Bombers’ defence. “Literally every play you’re competing against the other man, and you’re competing for your position. So if you don’t like that mindset, saying that you want to stay at the top, there’s no point for you to play.”
The Blue Bombers, as well as the other eight CFL clubs, need to have their rosters down to a total of 75 by May 1 — meaning general manager Kyle Walters and head coach Mike O’Shea need to make 12 cuts before the weekend is through.
Three more workouts over the next two days will help the Bombers brass make the determination they need to help bolster depth behind their core, and potentially unearth a diamond or two in the rough.
All camp workouts are open for fans to attend at Investors Group Field, with Thursday’s sessions beginning at 10:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., and Friday’s one session beginning at 10:45 a.m.