Although the Canadian Football League (CFL) season doesn’t begin until June 27, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have already began their preparation. The Roughriders made the trip from wintery Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, to sunny Bradenton, Fla. to begin mini-camp at . The team started training at IMG Academy for the second consecutive year on April 4 and will be concluding their mini-camp on Sunday, April 7.
Roughriders coaches and players have lauded the top notch facilities and support they have received on campus at IMG Academy.
“IMG Academy’s facilities are truly upper-echelon and comparable to most professional athletic facilities,” said Head Coach Corey Chamblin on the team’s experience. “The IMG Academy staff is very proficient and professional, and this environment has been conducive to holding our mini-camp.
The mini-camp is being held for rookies and veterans alike. The camp is a tool to build team chemistry, and it allows coaches and staff to evaluate players. In fact, a large focus is placed on the rookies, and the first two days were set aside for the rookies to get acclimated with one another before the veterans arrived on April 6.
“It’s huge for the rookies – for them to come in and get accustom to what were planning on doing, and learning our schemes,” said Jeremy O’Day, Assistant General Manager of the Roughriders. “It’s overly beneficial, and something we haven’t done in the CFL until the last couple years, and IMG Academy has been great for [hosting our mini-camp].”
The Roughriders have a variety of first and second team all conference performers, as well as previous NFL draft picks at their mini-camp. The CFL adheres to slightly different rules and field dimensions as its US counterpart, so many of the players have to adjust accordingly.
“There are a lot of reasons to have the camp,” O’Day said. “One of our main goals is to get some of the American players used to the Canadian Football League, the rule changes, and the different nuances involved with the Canadian game, and it’ll give the American players a head start going into training camp in two months.”
Rookie running back Stephfon Green is a great example, and is a recent addition to the Roughriders. Greene played for the Detroit Lions for a short time, and is now ready to prove that he can be successful in the CFL. Green remarked, “I know I’m a little rusty and I have a lot to work on, but I want to come out here show them what I can do and hopefully fight for a spot come June.”
Players are becoming a lot more accustomed to the Canadian style of play, and are ready to get to work. After today, there will be two more days of hard work for the players to build team chemistry, and show coaches what they can do.
Check out pictures from the Roughriders practices below: