Landry: 5 takeaways from training camp

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Hello, Neil McEvoy. Congratulations on your incredibly electrifying 40-yard dash victory over assistant general manager Ryan Rigmaiden at BC Lions camp. Haven’t seen speed like that since my brother and I simultaneously spied the last butter tart (with raisins) on a table across the room. But, hey…did I see a little contact there near the finish line, just before Rigmaiden went down? Anybody got video from a different angle?

Here are five training camp (so far) takeaways.

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LINEBACKERS ARE THIRSTY

In their 25-12 pre-season win over Winnipeg, the Saskatchewan Roughriders got pretty well just what they were looking for to get the Corey Mace regime launched smoothly and successfully, including five sacks for the defence.

A bonus for the Riders would be the abilities flashed by first-year linebackers Diego Fagot and Zakoby McClain, two big defenders who each dropped into coverage and made pretty sweet plays on an interception apiece.

Nice when the new guys pop.

SAME AS IT EVER WAS

Or should I say ‘same as it Streveler was.’

Winnipeg quarterback Chris Streveler has returned to the Bombers for the 2024 season and in his first game appearance with the team since he left for NFL pastures four years ago, he gave us what he always has, showing those quick and tough running abilities of his, rushing three times in limited action for 25 yards. And his passing game was pretty good too as he went 7-8 for 65 yards, feeding especially on short routes that opened up because the Saskatchewan defence needed to respect the quarterback dash game.

Imagine if offensive coordinator Buck Pierce puts Streveler in the backfield with Brady Oliveira AND Zach Collaros on some snaps this season (Please, Buck. Pretty please). What a nightmare that’d be for opponents.

YOU CAN HAVE YOUR HEART BROKEN TWICE

It’s a bit sickening how cruel the game can be to a guy.

Last year, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were excited by the prospect of having big receiver Justin McGriff in the line-up when he had his season ended by a training camp injury.

This year, the optimism returned as the six-foot-six, 215-pound receiver was back at full speed and looking good at camp.

Until a torn ACL finished McGriff for 2024, too.

It just ain’t right.

THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING THAT WILL SURPRISE YOU

Didn’t expect to see quarterback Nick Arbuckle back in the CFL, again, to be honest. But I’m glad he is.

After great promise to start, when he subbed in for an injured Bo Levi Mitchell in Calgary back in 2019, it’s been nothing but frustration and mostly ordinary performances for the 30-year-old journeyman.

And this year, for the first time since he came to the CFL, he found himself without a home for 2024 until the Toronto Argonauts decided a few days ago to bring him in to share the QB room with prospects Cameron Dukes and Bryan Scott.

I’ve always found myself rooting for Arbuckle because he seems like a really good guy. I’ll always remember the night he went over to console a devastated opponent after a game. Hamilton quarterback Dane Evans had had a terrible night and he was sitting all alone on the bench, practically in tears. Arbuckle, sympathetically, saw fit to go sit with Evans.

It’s easy to root for someone like that.

Who knows? Maybe Arbuckle can turn his insurance-policy-signing into gold in Double Blue this time around and wouldn’t that be a hell of a story?

IT JUST LOOKS NORMAL NOW

Just when did those Guardian Caps get introduced to training camp?

Wait. Just last year? Huh.

They seemed really, really weird only a year ago with linemen, running backs and linebackers donning the big, soft outer helmet shells. But with defensive backs and receivers also wearing them in 2024 training camps, I find they barely register in my consciousness.

Now the league has seen fit to allow any player who’d like to, to wear the extra protection during game action.

Not sure who it will be or when but you have to figure that somewhere down the line, somebody takes the step.

After all, in the olden days of bare-headed scrums and lines of scrimmage, someone did decide to be the first to put on a leather cap despite the howls of derision they must certainly have endured.

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