5 Quick Hits on Day 13 of Blue Bombers training camp:
1. KICKING IT AROUND: Both Bombers kickers — draft pick Marc Liegghio and newcomer Tyler Crapigna — were doing their thing at practice on Thursday, alternately attempting field goals during one portion of the session.
Crapigna is just a placekicker, not a punter, while Liegghio handled both in his final year at Western. Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea said it’s possible the club could have both kickers on the roster to split the chores.
Oh, and he also pushed back on the notion what unfolds over the next couple of weeks of training camp should be classified as a ‘competition.’
“From when I became a special-teams coordinator we’ve never really run it like that,” said O’Shea. “We just keep watching and watching and watching and looking… I don’t think it comes down to charting every bit of minutiae.
“You’re trying to find the right fit and you’re trying to have both guys be successful. I mean, that’s the job of a coach, to help guys be successful. You want both guys to feel really comfortable and good with their process and feel like everything’s fair and fun. They’ve got to have fun doing it, too. I mean, this is what they love to do. It’s not a job I hope, just yet.
“… I don’t think we’ll ever turn it into the kind of competition that the media might talk about.”
And while the Bombers obviously chart every kick, those numbers are just part of an overall evaluation.
“I’ll say this, as a first-year coach (in Toronto) under Jim Barker one of the very first conversations we probably would have had was teaching me not to be an early evaluator,” O’Shea said. “Like the questions that were posed about Marc after the first day kicking and I’m sure the questions are being asked about Tyler, who just took a long car ride, a plane, a day in quarantine, two new snappers, two new holders, a holder using a block that hasn’t done that before, the operations are different… the fact remains, he’s a 86 per cent field-goal kicker. That’s who he is. And so if he wasn’t 86 today, he’ll be 86 at some point because that’s who he is, that’s what his stats average out to.
“I’m sure he’s trying to be a 90 and he can get there, but today, yesterday and tomorrow he’s just trying to figure out the whole operation with these new guys.”
2. REPORT FROM SICK BAY: O’Shea said former NFL receiver Cam Meredith, who hasn’t practised since the opening of camp, is still a week away from getting back on the field. Meanwhile, RB Andrew Harris was back in helmet and pads on Thursday and did a lot of running, but did not participate in any of the one-on-ones.
Also not practising on Thursday were: RB Johnny Augustine, WR Darvin Adams, WR Charles Nelson, LB Robbie Lowes, OL Pat Neufeld, DB Josh Johnson, OL Dino Boyd.
3. CENTRES OF ATTENTION: Both Michael Couture and Tui Eli spoke to the media via Zoom calls on Thursday. Couture, you may recall, was injured in the last regular season game. We spoke to Couture in late March about his 2020 and that story can be found here:
He was asked if how 2019 ended — with him watching from the sidelines in a walking boot — changed how he looked back at the end of the championship season.
“I started all 18 games (in 2019) so I feel like I proved to myself I can do it,” Couture said of his first season as starter after replacing Matthias Goossen. “I don’t really think of my time off in the playoffs in 2019 as any sort of negative. Obviously, I wish I could have played, but it’s all about mindset and how you go forward with what you’re dealing with. I’m looking to working on this year and focussing on that.
“Mentally it’s come back a lot faster than I honestly was expecting. Getting all those reps every game (in 2019) really helped the mental side for me; seeing all the defensive pictures. I’m still knocking the rust off a little bit here, getting back to actual O-line play. It’s hard to do stuff on your own and now we’re going against actual D-linemen. It will come, though.”
Eli has also had a ton of work at centre this camp as Couture has been given the occasional day off. He came into camp about 25 pounds lighter than he did in 2019 and his comfort level is exponentially higher than in his rookie campaign.
“It’s going a lot better than my last camp,” he said. “I’m grasping the playbook a lot more and understanding things on a different depth. I’m just enjoying myself out there.”
Eli’s father worked as a missionary in Canada before settling in Hawaii. During 2020 Eli spent some time in Montana with his girlfriend and her family working with Tribal Ways Ministry on the Flathead Reservation.
4. TO THE POINT: Couture was asked about getting the chance to work with Zach Collaros, who took over in the Bombers last regular season game of 2019 — the centre’s last start.
“He’s smooth,” Couture said. “He’s easy to talk to and I love communicating with the guy. I’m excited to play with him.”
Asked to describe him as a player on the field, Couture was succinct:
“Smart. He’s a smart man.”
5. COUNTDOWN TIME: CFL fans have been waiting for this moment for months and the countdown to the league opener — August 5th at IG Field against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats — is now just two weeks away.
Bombers video ace Riley Marra has put together a cool tease — and we love the drone shots.
We are only TWO WEEKS away from game day!
— Winnipeg Blue Bombers (@Wpg_BlueBombers) July 22, 2021