Day 4 is one of the tougher days to get through during camp.
The physical grind wears on everyone from veteran all the way down the food chain to the rookie. Mental fatigue kicks in from all the installation, meeting hours, and film breakdown. Even the consistency in the schedule becomes tedious...
The most important meal of the day for an athlete in camp (breakfast), goes from being an easy morning walk or ride to the cafeteria, to becoming a harrowing journey that rivals The Lord of The Rings Trilogy.
Once in the locker room, a player finds himself staring at the posted depth charts and practise groupings a lot longer than normal; not for any good reason either, some guys just stand around the schedule like it’s the water cooler at your office hoping for someone to talk them into getting their ankles taped.
Eventually the vibe picks up though. Usually the vets that are used to “The Day 4 Wall” end up picking up guys spirits just in the way they handle themselves while getting dressed. It helps if you’re a young guy that thinks the soreness is getting to him to see a guy like Chris Best joking about being sore, while at the same time looking forward to competing during the Red Zone period. The DBs are always the loudest group in general, but it helps guys when they’re still running around the locker room arguing and talking about ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. It creates just the right amount of energy to get you out onto the field. It’s all part of the deal. It’s part of the dream!
My point is that everything starts to get tougher, but eventually the competitive lights must come back on.
Today was another test for the future 2015 edition of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It was a test of character.
What type of competitor are you?
After getting through the first padded practise on Day 3, the next day’s pace didn't let up at all. The guys went through an intense morning practise and strapped on full gear again in the afternoon.
Day 4 required the players to push through the sore muscles and stiffness. It demanded attention to detail. The intensity level can’t afford to drop. Players need to be out there flying around with effort and intent. Kudos go to the coaching staff that didn’t allow anyone to take a play off. If something needed to be fixed, it wasn’t a teaching opportunity to be saved for later, it was fixed immediately.
Another point to be made was that the guys know the camp schedule and what’s to come. Everyone gets practise schedules, therefore everyone knew that Day 5 (Thursday) entails two walk-throughs, including a brief exposure trip to PA. That was the trap in the whole deal. It challenged the players to remain focused on the present and not look ahead to a considerably light day. The Riders veteran leaders probably emphasized that they needed to compete, and not just “get through to tomorrow.”
*Yes there is a physical break tomorrow, but it needs to be earned with sweat equity today…
One has to be mentally tough in adverse situations and demanding environments. Character is being able to push through the barriers that stand between championship calibre teams and middle of the pack records. More importantly, ONE MUST CONTINUE TO GET BETTER by any means necessary.
Day 4 participants today probably left the field feeling encouraged today. There were some good reps, and there was also “some reps we can learn from” as Coach Chamblin would say. The positive thing was that the effort was there, and the communication continues to be outstanding. Guys were making plays, running hard and practising like pros. Nothing got in the way of getting out there and competing.
They crushed the Day 4 wall…
I know I’ve said this a dozen times, but I want you all to know how important this is…Communication continues to be a key point during this camp. From the Oline passing on Dline stunts today in 1 on 1s, to the Offense pausing their cadences to re-issue assignments based on what the D is giving them, to the DBs barking out coverage assignments and changes; the communication has been great and if it continues this team will have a chance no matter what scenario they’re in. Attitude reflects leadership and the players are simply picking up on verbal cues and coaching points that this staff is giving them and using that to execute. To me, it’s been the best part of camp thus far.
The Offense is really starting to pick up. It was night and day compared to Days 1 and 2. Much of this can be credited to the extra work that the Receivers, QBs, and RBs are doing amongst their units. These guys are getting together as position groups after meetings and hammering out their plays, going over there alignments and assignments, making sure that they’re on the same page. Little things like this are so important not only to the individuals themselves, but to the overall development of the team.
The phrase, “You learn best by teaching” comes to mind when you think of the way they’re going about their business. The extras that they’re doing now will work wonders for them as the season starts and they begin scheming for individual squads.
Alex Anthony #83 is having a good camp, just what you’d expect from a guy going into his 3rd year. He’s making the catches and benefitting from the leadership around him when it comes to learning his plays. It’s all about taking advantage of your opportunities.
While we’re on the WR group, #2 Ryan Smith had a pretty good day out there as well, but so did the rest of the gang, which highlights the next point.
There isn’t a ton of spots available on this roster for WRs, and there’s definitely some battles that are beginning to form. I said it on The Sportscage today…I’m excited to see the exhibition games, and this group is one of the reasons for that anticipation.
People keep asking how Jamel Richardson is doing.
Well he didn’t take part in the last practice of the day, but this morning looked like it was the best practice he’s had since he threw on #14 for the Green and White. He’s beginning to open up his stride, and looks as though he’s getting comfortable coming in and out of his routes. A lot of times with a guy like JRich and the situation he’s in, it’s a lot more mental than it is physical. It’s been stated before that it was going to take some time for him to fully start trusting his body, and it looks like he’s on the way. He is a faith-based man, and I was happy to see him out there really moving today. Great sign for the team, because you can tell that the guys love having him around.
We’ve talked a lot about Matt Webster looking like he’s going to have a great camp and it was awesome to hear that the coaches are noticing him out there. Good for him! Another player in that group that may be in line to have a great year is MarshayGreen #1. Green is so fluid. He changes direction with no wasted movement or speed, which obviously transfers to being a great cover guy, and his burst to the ball when he commits is eye catching. Look for him to take the next step this year, and really have an impact on this defence.
Also, should probably give a shout out to Weldon Brown. He’s in great shape and already looks to be in all-star form. What makes him so valuable is that he can play every spot on the field, and do it at a league leading level.
Ray Early is the best Punter in camp. Not really anything to say other than that.
That’s bout it for today folks. Look out for tomorrow’s mailbag, because the questions you guys are asking are good football inquiries. I promise you that we’ll get to the Canadian Defensive lineman there!