It’s early, sure. And there are a lot of miles still ahead. But Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea couldn’t contain his excitement as the club’s rookie camp finished up Friday afternoon at Investors Group Field.
"It was excellent," said O’Shea with a size-large grin. "Now, rookie camp, there’s going to be some mistakes, but the effort in that last team period was what we need. Guys were flying around, everybody to a man was running hard.
"When they see it on film they’ll know what to expect of themselves and see what they can do on a play-by-play basis. As I said to them after, it’s a job interview and they should want to do it that way."
The Bombers will not be on the field Saturday as the veterans report for medicals, but the team is scheduled to open main training camp Sunday morning – even with the impending labour impasse. The current collective bargaining agreement expired Thursday night, but the CFL Players Association has instructed its members to report in a show of good faith.
O’Shea said he doesn’t need to try and temper his enthusiasm for the rookies’ collective work, knowing they’ll soon be going head-to-head against the veterans. Instead, he wants to embrace what he’s seen.
"I don’t know that you should temper (his enthusiasm)," he said. "We talked about this after Day 1: everybody qualified things by saying, ‘Oh, it’s only Day 1.’ Sure. But as long as you don’t get blinded to the other facts that will arise as time goes on and the other practices take place, I think it’s quite OK to talk about a player who did well on the first day.
"I think it’s good to be excited."