Steep learning curve for Bombers newcomers
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When you’re able to bring back a majority of your team from one season to the next, much like the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have done for years, it creates several advantages.
Because the Bombers are mostly intact from last season, they’ve been able to hit the ground running by introducing advanced packages within their playbook. In simpler terms, Winnipeg has added onto what it’s already installed previously as a team, taking full advantage of the many familiar faces on the roster.
That’s great news for players who have been around these parts for years. Not so much for those who are new to the Bombers, and especially those new to the CFL, with the more sophisticated packages only adding to an already steep learning curve.
“It’s a lot for the young guys,” Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said following training camp Thursday. “But I don’t think we’re in a position where we want to lower that standard. There’s lots of time for them to get caught up and there’s access to coaches and players… guys are available to help. But, yeah, it’s quick and there are certainly more details. It’s one of the things you have to do if you want to get better. You got to dig down even deeper and find more details. It’ll make a difference.”
Few loves or studies the game of football more than Bombers No. 2 quarterback Dru Brown. Brown is a self-professed football nerd, and the opportunity to dive into a more detailed playbook is about as good as it gets.
“This year, we really pushed the envelope for the young guys. And it was kind of like, ‘Hey, young guys catch up,’” Brown said. “You can look at it two ways. Wow, that’s a lot of information or you could look at it as you have the best examples in the league to follow, as far as players to watch and learn from. In a highly competitive environment, where your job is to perform, it’s kind of sink or swim.”
Brown said he’s been impressed with many of the newcomers, particularly rookie quarterbacks Josh Jones and Tyrrell Pigrome, for how eager they are to dive into the playbook. He added that because the Bombers are such a close-knit team, one that prides itself on getting the best out of every player, veterans have stuck around after work hours to help support anyone who might have questions or need a better explanation on something.
“It’s completely up to you, as a rookie, what you want to get out of it,” Brown said. “It might be overwhelming for some, but we’ve got a great group here willing to help out.”
The Bombers are expected to release their roster for Saturday’s preseason game in Edmonton against the Elks sometime on Friday. But O’Shea tipped his cap a bit Thursday on who he’s planning to send out west.
O’Shea said all four quarterbacks would make the trip, including starter Zach Collaros. It’s unclear if Collaros is going to act in a supporting role or actually hit the field.
If Collaros was to get into the game, it would be the first time Collaros has played in a preseason tilt since joining the Bombers late into 2019. With the 2020 season cancelled and the 2021 campaign shortened – resulting in no preseason action – owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Collaros has missed only two exhibition games, both of which were last season.
The expectation is Brown, Jones and Pigrome will get the lion’s share of the reps at quarterback.
The only other information provided by O’Shea is that they’ll be bringing Chandler Staton as the lone place kicker, along with two punters, in global players Karl Schmitz and Jamieson Sheahan, meaning kickers Sergio Castillo and Marc Liegghio will get the game off.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.