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Riders rookie camp highlights: A blitz on day two

2024 second-round draft pick Nick Wiebe was not on the field as he continues to rehab from a leg injury sustained last season
The annual “Green and White” game will take place Saturday, May 18, at Saskatoon Minor Football Field with gates opening at noon, and, of course, Gainer the Gopher will be there.

SASKATOON — The team came out and went immediately into positional walk-through drills and there was a distinct sense of intensity. There was much more communication and reinforcement from the coaches, and the players were very deliberate in their reps.

Following the positional drills the team broke down into offensive and defensive groups. The defence worked on pre-snap positioning and various coverage packages. Offensively receivers ran route trees, giving the Quarterbacks an opportunity to focus on footwork and fundamentals.

Following a brief break, the teams returned to the field working on playbook foundations both offensively and defensively. Back to the theme of intensity when the workouts resumed, you could hear the offence challenging the defence to, “keep working on those busted coverages.”

While working on various playbook concepts the defensive backs spent time working on man coverage and zone coverages. Meanwhile, the defensive lineman honed their pass rush techniques.

As the intensity continued with positional play, the action was interrupted by three whistle blasts signifying that it was time to pit the offence against the defence.

On the first play, Shea Patterson found Kennedy Brooks out of the backfield for a medium gain. Then Patterson found Geronimo Allison on a slant route for a first down.

After a penalty for offside, a pass to the flat was knocked down by C.J Coldon to bring up second down. A low snap then saw the defensive line get into the backfield to break up a play. Luc Mullinder’s assessment: “A blitz on day two of rookie camp? You can tell we have a defensive-minded coach.”

Next was offensive possession and it was Jack Coan’s turn at the controls. He would find Jerrian Eealy out of the backfield for a couple of yards. Next was a pass attempt over the middle that was broken up by linebacker Zackoby McLean.

New offensive possession and Mason Fine directed the offence handing off on first down to Kennedy Brooks. On second down, Fine would drop back and find Geronimo Allison on a corner route for 25 yards.

After two plays, Antonio Pipkin came onto the field to go under centre. On first down he fielded a low snap and handed the ball to Clint Ratkovich for a few yards. Pipkin would then hand the ball off again on second down for a couple of yards.

Quarterbacks were rotated and Coan was back at the helm. Hand the ball off to Ealy and he was met in the backfield by a swarm of defenders including Sidney Houston Jr. After the play the verbiage heated up between the two groups.

Whistle sounds, now into a one-on-one period. At midfield, the receivers went 7-on-7 with the defensive backs. Pass one was an incredible interception by C.J. Coldon. Second pass was a completion over the middle. Third pass was another broken up by Coldon.

Next play was a pass to D’Sean Mimbs, broken up by Antoine Brooks Jr. Nice highpoint of the ball by Brooks Jr. to bat it down.

Next play was an underneath route complete to Kendall Watson. Watson would make a next play reception as well.

The next pass was another interception by Coldon who went for a run to the end zone after the catch.

At the other end of the field, it was O line vs. D line in one-on-one battles. It was abundantly clear through the drills who won which battle as both the offence and defence were very vocal in support of their groups.

Following the one-on-ones, it was back to teaching special teams blocking drills and kick coverage concepts.

After the focus on instruction, it was back to teams’ compete drills. The two groups definitely battled, and both made plays. The biggest offensive play was a pass to Dohnte Meyers that he took to the house, while, defensively, Antoine Brooks Jr.’s pass knockdown from his linebacking spot impressed most observers.

Next sound was cool down at centre as the team met before heading to the mess hall and film study in the afternoon.

Today’s Weather:

Suns out guns out, at least for Trevor Harris who shed the Under Armour on another beautiful day in Saskatoon. The temperature started to climb towards the 20s during the workout with mostly sunny skies. The wind did start to pick up from the northwest with gusts at times near 56 km/h halfway through the workout, but it kept the players comfortable.


Not on the field:

2024 second-round draft pick Nick Wiebe was not on the field Thursday as he continues to rehab from a leg injury sustained last season. However, he did do an individual work-out alongside Strength and Conditioning Coach Dan Farthing.


Break-out Play of the Day:

Defensive Back C.J. Coldon, a former practice roster player with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, looked extremely comfortable and confident in the Rider secondary today. He made a pair of athletic interceptions high-pointing the ball and breaking up passes while seeming to be everywhere. The exclamation point came when he stepped in front of a slant route and returned it to the house.


The One to Watch:

Katley Joseph, a free-agent signing by the Riders and former Saskatchewan Huskie, has looked very comfortable at the safety spot thus far at rookie camp, even though he primarily played the halfback spot in college. He continued to be a vocal guy in the secondary and came up with some pass break-ups moving in from the safety spot.


Coming Up

First-time Roughriders are being put through their paces May 8 to 10, with the main camp opening on Sunday, May 12.

The annual “Green and White” game will take place Saturday, May 18, at Saskatoon Minor Football Field with gates opening at noon. The club plans to have face painting and other fun activities for the whole family, along with the 620CKRM Rider Pep Band, the 620CKRM Rider Cheer Team, and of course Gainer the Gopher.

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