Some highlights, observations and random thoughts from Sunday’s Riders’ practice:
- There were some light showers, but the Riders kept going. There isn’t a lot of time in training camp and weather isn’t really a reason to stop, even if it was Father’s Day.
- Sunday was cut-down day and the Riders released the following players: Imports – LB Chris Graham, SB Jason Chery, RB Demetrius Crawford, DL Boo Robinson, DB TJ Rushing and DL Curtis Gatewood; Non-imports – RB Nathan Riva, DB Dominic Noel, and DL Renaldo Sagesse. The Riders added import defensive lineman Jay Alford, another NFL veteran. Alford shared in the 2008 New York Giants win in the 2008 Super Bowl.
Here are some thoughts on some of the released players:
Graham: With the Riders’ decision to go with a non-import at MLB, Graham didn’t fit in. They tried him at WIL, but that spot didn’t suit Graham very well. I think Graham is a good MLB and Chamblin feels that another team may pick him up.
Chery: He scored the Riders lone touchdown in Wednesday’s 44-10 pre-season loss to the Lions. It was an acrobatic, one-handed reception, but it wasn’t enough to keep Chery on the roster. Basically the guys ahead of Chery were better. Head coach Corey Chamblin said Chery was shocked by his release and that he did make some plays. Chamblin felt that Chery wasn’t grasping the offence as well as the other receivers.
Crawford: I was cheering for Crawford because it was such a good story. Remember Crawford is basically a player who got a tryout through Twitter. Once again the players ahead of him were better. “(Crawford) was OK, but we needed better,’’ Chamblin said.
- There was a different feel to Sunday’s practice. That always happens after the roster is reduced. It’s more workmanlike and I think the players are more serious. It will be even more serious after the next series of final cuts on Saturday.
- Brandon LaBatte (Achilles), Patrick Neufeld (knee) and Chris Best (foot) were all observers on Sunday. Chamblin said some of the injured players are progressing and should be back on the active roster soon. Ben Heenan and Nick Hutchings filled in at guard for LaBatte and Best.
- Chamblin wasn’t all too pleased with how practice began. He wants the team to play fast and felt that starts right from the beginning of practice. He stopped an offense vs. defense drill in the middle and had all of the players line up on the sidelines. Chamblin then had them run a series of wind sprints the width of the field. It was to get their attention and remind them that. “This is pro football and they are going to have to run,’’ Chamblin said. “We’ve talked about being a disciplined team and there were things where they were a little undisciplined. We want to be a fast team and they weren’t doing that either. I told them happy Father’s Day and they were like my kids and I had to correct them.’’
- Chamblin said that quarterback Darian Durant would start getting more repetitions and that appears to be the case. The Riders still have to sort out the depth chart at quarterback, but Durant also has to get ready for the regular season. It’s a fine line and it does require some juggling to get that accomplished. I guess that’s why coaches get the big bucks.
- That’s it for this Sunday. Just one practice today. On Monday, they are to practice in Regina at 8:15 a.m. and then make a road trip to the Moose Jaw field house for the evening session (7 p.m.) Remember to follow me on Twitter.