The BC Lions held their annual Fan Fest event in Kamloops on Sunday and once again it was a big success. Sunny warm temperatures finally graced the tournament capital and fan young and old came to mingle with their football team.
One of the priorities that Bob Ackles had when he came back to the Lions was to grow the game at the grass roots level, and events like the Lions put on today do just that. Young aspiring football players and others that may have been introduced to the game for the first time descended on Hillside Stadium at Thompson Rivers University to “Play with the pros.”
For other fans, the chance to get their favourite players autograph or picture was the draw of the day. I’ll say this unequivocally; there is no other league whose players mingle with the fans better than the CFL.
The team followed the festivities with a practice and a non contact scrimmage for those in attendance.
I hope this gallery gives you a sense of the great atmosphere that was present in Kamloops today. This ends our on location training camp coverage for 2012, as we have to return to the real world on Monday. We hope you enjoyed the pictures and the updates. We look forward to the start of the preseason this Wednesday!
A few pictures from the June 8th morning session of BC Lions training camp in Kamloops. The session was a spirited one with a little more hitting but also saw many mistakes. Fumbles, interceptions, knocked down passes. Coach Benevides warned the team that this morning’s session was unacceptable.
We’ll have some thoughts about the sessions later tonight, but for now, the morning in pictures.
Sorry this is posted late, internet problems in the hotel and the arranging of a small get together in Kamloops delayed my intentions a little. More on that at the end of this, but first a quick recap of my observations from my first day in Kamloops.
The morning session saw mainly clear skies to start but cool temperatures. The sun didn’t stay long however and was gone by the end of the session. In the afternoon, cool, grey, windy and at times rainy conditions were present and only the diehards were in the stands.
The starting receivers group looks to be Simon, Bruce, Foster, Gore, and Kierre Johnson. Newcomer Ernest Jackson had a strong session in the afternoon. Kierre Johnson is looking very fast and is catching everything. With his small stature, some felt he might be in tough for his roster spot, especially with some of the players they have brought to camp, but to me he was one of the most dangerous players out there. He’s also being used as one of the primary kick returners so far and is looking dangerous there, albeit with limited contact to date. Marco Iannuzzi sat out the afternoon session and looked to have a minor “lower body” injury.
Andrew Harris is going to have a big year. He looks ready to be a prime time player in this league, in case his performance last year wasn’t enough of a clue. Behind him, I thought Anthony Stewart has a few nice runs, but he’s very small. Didn’t notice much of Stu Foord, but rookie Nic Grigsby also had some nice carries.
The best battles of the day were the one on ones between Patrick Kabongo and Khalif Mitchell. The two put on an impressive display and showed a mutual respect for one another. As someone who had concerns about how heavy Kabongo came into camp, I had some of those alleviated after seeing how well the big man moves and seeing his work ethic. He is fitting in well with the existing offensive line members and is a leader on the field. With a little bit of weight loss and some fine tuning by Dan Dorazio, Kabongo could very well prove to be a solid pick up by the Lions with the injuries they have incurred on the line to date.
As reported, the Lions are going to give James Yurichuk every chance to stake claim to the middle linebacker spot of the departed Solomon Elimimian. It’s really tough to get a gauge on how he’s doing right now, because at this point in camp, there isn’t a lot of hitting going on. I expect to see a bit more on Friday and Saturday, and of course we’ll all get a first hand look Wednesday against the Riders. Anton McKenzie has two strong sessions including almost picking off Travis Lulay. Adam Bighill is also in the mix, but the job is Yurichuk’s to lose.
This is definitely an area of strength for the Lions and it shows. Byron Parker is fitting in nicely, both on the field and the trash talking department among the unit. The real standout for me today though was safety Cauchy Muamba who picked off Lulay and looks to be grabbing hold of the starting safety spot. Lin-J Shell continues to see second team reps and Anthony Reddick looks to be getting most of the reps at the nickle back spot.
Angus Reid sat out the morning session for what was referred to by the team as a maintenance day. He was back in the afternoon session. Defensive lineman Maurice Evans tweaked something in the morning and was sitting out the afternoon along with LB Adam Leonard who looks close to returning. As mentioned above Iannuzzi also sat out the afternoon.
If you’re going to be in Kamloops on Saturday night, June 9th, a few Lions fans are getting together at the Boston Pizza at 500 Notre Dame Drive at 7:30pm. If you would like to join us, please e-mail me at email@example.com and we’ll make sure we save a seat for you.
Next practice: Friday, June 8th 8:20 am and 4:00pm.
Here are some photos from today’s sessions:
Vancouverites and others got a chance to see what they’re tax dollars are going towards Sunday when BC Place stadium opened its doors to the public to show itself of. The stadium of course isn’t complete, but it didn’t need to be to impress those that attended.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in was how massive this project is and the incredible engineering that has gone into it. The stadium seems bigger, mostly because the roof is much higher than the old one.
The public was confined to a secured area at field level and BC Place staff and construction team members were on hand to answer questions from visitors.
The most impressive feature is of course the new retractable roof structure. Several panels of the fixed portion of the roof are now in place, and the structure that supports it is very impressive. Story boards were placed around the floor describing the various upgrades and additions to the stadium.
One of the most anticipated features will be the new video screen that will be installed in the middle of the roof structure. The 4-sided screen will be one of the largest of its kind. The largest panels that will be aligned along the length of the field will be 68’ long and 38’ high. The video board will be the latest in High Definition technology. That section alone is an area equivalent to 450 – 42”flat screen TV’s. In addition to the video board, a new 360 degree ribbon board will be in place on the upper bowl fascia and will coordinate with the main video boards.
If that’s not impressive enough for you, a 12 metre high façade plus mast lighting and fixed fabric roof lighting will combine to create custom light shows both inside and outside the stadium on event nights.
Athletes that play in the stadium will be doing so on the most advanced and state of the art playing surface available. The surface will be a permanent one and will be laid in one piece, making it seamless. It is also FIFA approved to host international soccer events. During concerts and trade shows the field will be protected with a custom cover.
Combine that with wider seats with cup holders, renovated suites, washrooms, concessions and concourses, and BC Place stadium is soon to become one of the best stadiums in North America.
As BC Lions season ticket holder, I can’t wait! Now, if we can just start winning some football games!
Here are some pictures of the event today. Enjoy!
The Lions may have lost the game but once again the tailgate party was a winner! Tailgate Empire kicked it up a notch with some outstanding food. Take a look at some of the fun in this photo slideshow!
It’s a pretty exciting year to be a fan of the BC Lions and for that matter the Vancouver Whitecaps. On September 30th the BC Lions will host the Edmonton Eskimos in the first sporting event at the newly renovated BC Place Stadium. It likely wont be called that by then and will probably have a fancy new sponsor but regardless it’s going to be a sight to behold. Personally I can’t wait, as the new digs will give fans the comfort of BC Place and the pleasure an open roof on beautiful Vancouver sunny days.
During the construction there have been times when myself and others have wondered about the design. Seeing the finished model restores your faith and I’ve always told people who say it’s ugly after driving by it to wait for the finished product. The product is starting to take shape, and I’ve even found a shot that shows the fabric roof has started to go up.
I thought I would share these for folks who are out of town and would like to see the progress. I’ll try and do this every couple of weeks or so leading up to September 30th.
Wally Buono gave his players the morning off Saturday and the result was a spirited afternoon session that saw a fast tempo and some heated tempers to close out the day at Hillside Stadium in Kamloops, BC. There was a good crowd on hand in the stands to watch the practice, several who had driven up from the lower mainland to check out the 2011 hopefuls
Geroy Simon, Eric Taylor and Stanley Franks Michael Carter, Joe Henderson, Stanley Franks, Shawn Gore were on the field but not in pads and not practicing.
Davis Sanchez was back practicing.
Cornerback Dante Marsh left practice on a cart after an apparent hamstring injury. The veteran corner went down defending an offensive play and immediately grabbed the back of his leg. Marsh pulled off his helmet and threw it 15 yards down field and was in obvious pain. He left with an ice bag wrapped around the leg and on a golf cart. He did not return, and according to Lowell Ullrich of the Province will -be re-evaluated in the morning.
The first team offensive line remained unchanged from our previous practice. From left to right, the starting five were Ben Archibald, Jon Hameister-Ries, Angus Reid, Dean Valli and Jovan Olafioye. The line opened some nice holes for the backs during live reps and looks to be gelling nicely. One item of note here, it seems as though Jesse Newman who is listed on the depth chart as the starting right guard has been leapfrogged by Valli, barring an issue we don’t know about regarding Newman.
With Eric Taylor watching, Khalif Mitchell assumed the majority of the starting reps at nose tackle, with Keron Williams and Aaron Hunt on the ends.
Travis Lulay continues to be sharp. The pecking order hasn’t changed behind him with Jarious Jackson and Mike Reilly assuming the 2nd and 3rd reps. Tough to give any assessment on Matt Johnson and Corey Leonard at this point with minimal reps.
Jamal Robertson is the starter right now and that hasn’t changed. Andrew Harris continues to impress and how no effects from an off-season torn pectoral muscle. Newcomer Tim Brown is making a case to stick around.
The two main returners to date seem to me Kierrie Johnson and Michael Smith. Both have had some success to date and both have very good top end speed and shifty moves. The real test will come in Calgary next week.
Practice ended with Korey Banks laying a hard lick on receiver Calvin Simon. That brought the offence and defence together and a tempers flared. From the crowd came the words of wisdom “It’s over, it’s over, we a damn team!” And with that practice was done.
You’re Twitter Questions:
@j_rower asks: “@BCLionsDen, How does Kamau Peterson look? Could he have as good a season as he had in the past?”
Kamau doesn’t look out of place and is getting up to camp speed. He is seeing a lot of first team reps and is running good routes and catching balls thrown his way. Can he be as effective as in the past? That will depend in large part his health and on the return of Paris Jackson who doesn’t seem to be feeling many effects from his injured knee as he works out by himself. That said Kamau is a great addition who brings Canadian depth and a wealth of experience to the room.
@98celtic asks: “@BCLionsDen, Is Stephen Black looking like he will have a breakout year??? Go #82 and Lions!”
Steven Black made some clutch catches last year and by the end of the season was a starter in the offence. So far in camp he looks like he has the chance to take that to another level and I think he has the chance to.
@Markfrancis23 asks: “@BCLionsDen, how is Chris Hodgson doing? I’ve known him since he was a kid…athletic freak…say hello for me.”
You’re right about Hodgson being an athletic freak. I can tell you this the guys arms are huge! Right now Hodgson is a bit of a project. I haven’t been able to keep that close a watch on him, but here is a video the BC Lions did on him if you haven’t seen it: http://www.bclions.com/article/getting-to-know-chris-hodgson
At KieranM37 asks: “@BCLionsDen who’s who in the secondary? Hyland getting the most reps at S? Banks back at HB?”
David Hyland is currently second in the depth chart at halfback behind Stanley Franks. I haven’t seen him playing any safety and the Lions are currently trying to Canadians in J.R. LaRose and Jason Arakgi at that spot. Korey Banks is still lining up at nickleback and will do so often as the Lions for with a 3-4 defence on many downs. Banks had a solid year last year and the team will look for more of the same. The rest of the secondary is a little banged up. Stanley Franks, Ryan Phillips and Davis Sanchez all have minor ailments, and as we alluded to above Dante Marsh left practice today.
Photos: June 11th, 2011
Summer has arrived in the tournament capital of Canada and BC Lions training camp is in full swing at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops BC. It was our first look at the 2011 crop of hopefuls looking to become BC Lions and it didn’t take long to see there was some impressive talent out on the field.
Let’s get you up to speed on some of our observations from our first day here in Kamloops. We’ll also answer some questions you sent us on Twitter.
The first thing you notice at camp this year is that there is a very high tempo. Players are being moved from drill to drill to keep the pace up and the teaching constant. There is very little standing around and this is probably a good plan. Players coming to Canada for the first time need to adjust to a shorter play clock and the faster pace of the game. This is a smart move by the team.
Last year’s CFL rookie of the year has come to camp looking like he wants to add to his trophy case. Elimimian was flying out there in the drills we watched and opposing offences had better be ready to deal with #56. The hard hitting linebacker, who the Lions tried to sign to extension in the off-season, is going to open some more eyes this year. The Lions are going to feature a 3-4 defense for many plays and combined with Adam Leonard, Anton McKenzie and Korey Banks should sport a very effective linebacking core with Elimimian as the centerpiece.
When Emmanuel Arceneaux left for the NFL dream this off-season, it certainly left the team with a hole to fill. The Lions have some options to look at in the returning Nick Moore and Akeem Foster and both had some nice plays on Thursday. But the club also looks to have found some nice options in newcomers Dobson Collins, Kierrie Johnson and Jared Perry. Collins in particular is an intriguing option with his height and speed and he received some reps with the first team, looking good doing it. He beat his defender more than once on deep routes despite not getting the ball thrown his way. Both Johnson and Perry also showed promise. 1st round draft pick Marco Iannuzzi looks like a solid pick, running solid routes and showing good hands.
There is one thing you notice right away this season. Lulay is going to be the leader of this team. He is vocal and supportive in the huddle and everyone has his attention. His passes were crisp and despite one interception during redzone drills, there was lots of reasons to feel excited watching Lulay work today.
With the release of Yonus Davis because of his legal issues the hunt is on for a new kick returner. Auditioning today were Tim Brown, Kierrie Johnson, Andrew Harris, Marco Iannuzzi and Michael Smith. Of that group Andrew Harris and Tim Brown stood out to me.
Your Twitter Questions:
@the4jenkins asked: “@BCLionsDen How is Corey Leonard doing as QB? Will he be a good addition to the Lions?”
Unfortunately it’s tough to answer that mainly because Leonard didn’t get a lot of reps today. Travis Lulay, Jarious Jackson and Mike Reilly got the majority of them from what I saw. Leonard and Matt Johnson will battle it out for the 4th QB position and we’ll have to watch more closely as camp progresses.
@allezlabluesca asked: “@BCLionsDen Ask Joash Gesse how he envisioned its second season with the Lions.”
I don’t have access to the players but I can tell you Gesse looked good in special teams drills, and saw some reps at linebacker. With the depth the team has here I think it will be tough for him to get defensive minutes when the bullets start to fly. Like James Yurichuk before him Gesse is going to earn his keep on special teams for another year I think.
@KieranM37 asked: “@BCLionsDen good to hear! How are the DBs doing?”
The DB’s looked very solid today. Marsh, Phillips and Banks looked in fine form. Davis Sanchez was present but didn’t take part in drills. J.R. LaRose has returned and didn’t show any effects from his season ending injury last season and is working with Jason Arakgi at safety. Hamid Mahmoudi struggled today, getting beat deep on more than one occasion while Stanley Franks looked solid.
@BushmanGarth asked: “@BCLionsDen Wondering how Ben Archibald looks on the O-line and the O-line in general.”
Lions fans can look forward to big things from the offensive line if it stays healthy and the big reason will be Archibald. The man is massive, and the Lions now have to solid bookends at tackle with Jovan Olafioye moving to the right. The line looked good in drills and a few running backs hit some nice holes in drills.
@Padre35 asked:@BCLionsDen How is Matt Johnson and Edgeson looking in practice? Muamba as well?
See above for Matt Johnson, Edgeson is no longer with the team and Muamba looked ok, but didn’t stand out today.
We won’t be attending the morning session tomorrow, as the defense will be practicing indoors where we can’t see, and the offense will be doing a walk-through and teaching session.
Photos: Thursday June 9th, 2011
The BC Lions held an open house for their season ticket holders on Sunday and the early reviews are in. Football is going to be a lot of fun this season.
When you walk into Empire Field, you have to be pretty impressed at what has been constructed there in such a short period of time. The stadium is going to provide an up close and personal view of the game for football fans this season, that will put them right on top of the action. The side line seating is similar to the look of the original stadium with its column supported roof. The seats along the sidelines and in the corners are a black molded plastic seat while the end zones are bench style aluminum seating.The seats are completely filled in so there is no danger of dropping your wallet into the scaffolding maze under the seats.
The replay screen sits in the north end zone. It’s fairly small and the picture didn’t look that great and it also may get washed out in the sun at certain times of the day. There are two scoreboard style clocks that show the time, down, and score that are in opposite corners that should be visible to all fans.
The real surprise was the presence of a new field turf playing surface. Original plans had called for the turf from BC Place to be used, but it’s clear this surface is new by the colour of it. The surface looks great but if you’re hoping for the advertising free field we’ve enjoyed at BC Place, word is this surface will be painted up with sponsorship. Hopefully they can find room for a Lions logo as well.
Cons? Well washroom lineups could be long as only 150 portable toilets are on the site, in addition to washroom trailers. There will also only be three concessions maximum on the east side of the stadium, and the ticket person I talked to said they still didn’t know the exact locations.
Overall, I was very impressed with the facility and what they were able to do in such a short period of time. Many football fans in BC will be getting their first outdoor game experience and on a day like today, it’s hard to imagine them not thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Here’s a look at all our photos from the day for those that couldn’t make it out today!
Photos from the afternoon session of BC Lions training camp on June 8th, 2010 in Kamloops, BC
A recap of our live blog of the session can be found here.