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!
Hello from cold, windy, rainy Kamloops. Yesterday afternoon’s beautiful sunshine was gone by this morning, giving way to the October like weather we’ve been experiencing here. Oh well, at least it’s supposed to be nice for the folks coming out for Fan Fest tomorrow.
There wasn’t much to report yesterday, the morning practice was spirited, the afternoon was a walk through session with no pads, so I took the the day off from blogging, but did post a few pictures, if you missed them.
This morning’s session in the rain was a productive one, but could also have costly. Jon Hameister-Ries left practice on a cart with what looked to be a lower body injury. N o, I won’t get into specifics here, because the club doesn’t appreciate that, but you can probably use your imagination. He did not return to the field. That would make three potential offensive lineman now nursing injuries, meaning guard Patrick Kabongo should have no problem dropping a few pounds. Club president Dennis Skulsky told me this morning that Dean Valli will go to Vancouver on Tuesday to have his knee evaluated by doctors, and said the club will take its time on the return of both he and Jesse Newman. Rookie Matt Norman has shown well.
Khalif Mitchell also took the pads off, favouring his upper body, but it looked like he would be fine after being worked on by the trainers.
Running back Stu Foord had a good morning session, earning the praise of coach Kelly Bates and showing his talents in the mini scrimmage potion of practice. Travis Lulay looked sharp and backup Mike Reilly, perhaps coming to life after the release of Corey Leonard also looked sharper this morning.
Receiver Kierrie Johnson continued his strong showing in camp, and any thoughts that his roster spot might be in jeopardy are starting to fade if they haven’t already been extinguished.
Defensive line hopefully Maurice Evans returned to practice this morning as did receiver Marco Iannuzzi.
Time for lunch, hopefully warmer, drier skies await for the afternoon session at 4:00pm today.
If you’re in Kamloops and would like to join us for a little BC Lions Social at Boston Pizza tonight, we’ll be gathering at 7:30pm at the 500 Notre Dame Drive location. Drop me an e-mail or send me a tweet @BCLionsDen if you’re thinking of joining us so I can ensure we have a seat waiting for you!
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:
So you’re heading up to Kamloops to check out BC Lions training camp. If this is your first time, there are a few things you need to know and hopefully this guide will help you come prepared for anything that might happen! This will be my 9th consecutive trip to training camp so I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade and thought I would share them here. I’ll be in Kamloops from June 7th through Fan Fest on June 10th and hope to meet a few Lions fans there during my stay!
Kamloops is known for its lack of rain, but that doesn’t mean you should leave the rain gear at home. I’ve sat in the stands and been hit by flash thunderstorms that bring heavy rains, hail and wind. It’s not common, but come prepared for everything. Sunscreen is of course a must. For the first week of camp the weather looks a bit iffy.
If you’re coming up for the day, be warned. The Lions can cancel a practice session at any time. Coaches may not like the weather forecast; they may feel the players need a break, or that a film session would be more beneficial. There is also the chance the team may decide to have a “closed’ practice inside the field house at the university. The team’s media people generally try and give ample notice of this, but I have shown up to the field once or twice to find that the session has been cancelled.
Follow the BC Lions on Twitter (@BCLions) and check their web site for the latest announcements, especially if you’re just planning to come up for the day.
The Lions have a great setup at Thompson Rivers University. The players accommodations are located here, and they practice at Hillside Stadium. The parking on site is free during Lions practice sessions, so don’t by a ticket.
If there is one piece of advice you’ll be thanking me for it will be my tip to bring a cushioned pad to sit on. The stadium bleachers are not comfortable!
It’s important to remember that the BC Lions are here to work. Training camp is very important for the players and coaches, and they should not be bothered while they on the field working. Take all the photos you like from the stands, but fans are not allowed on the field (including this blogger). The players are great with the fans and many will come over to the stands to mingle with fans following any given practice section. Be polite, and they will sign and even pose for a picture.
Fan Fest on June 10th is the best way to get quality time with your favourite player and they are more than happy to interact with the fans on this day.
Enjoy the chatter
One of my favourite parts of training camp is listening to the players talk amongst themselves on the field. The defence in particular likes chirp a lot, particularly at the offensive players. There can be some really amusing lines that get thrown around. Also, don’t be surprised if tempers flare occasionally and the occasional fight breaks out. The toll of two a days can cause the blood to boil.
Meet other fans
One of the great things about the CFL is the friendships you can make with other fans. Lions Nation is growing by leaps and bounds every year. Every year at Grey Cup I am seeing more and more black and orange, and that’s great to see. If you see me, stop by and say hello, sit down and talk some football. Who knows we all may end up in a pub somewhere talking about our team.
If you’re planning to come up for more than a day, there are plenty of hotel and motel options in the “Tournament Capital of Canada”. Look around for the best deal but you can expect to pay between 80-125/Night for a decent place to stay. My personal preference is the Accent Inn. It’s clean, reasonably priced and close to everything. If camping is more your thing, there are several camp grounds in the vicinity as well.
With an early morning session and an afternoon session there is plenty of downtime to be had between all the football. Kamloops offers plenty of things to do for all ages. Riverside Park is a great place to spend a few hours, and it has a water park for the kids. Explore the local pubs and restaurants or go for a hike in the area. At night there is a Casino downtown if that’s your thing. When you’re out for dinner, don’t be surprised if you see a few players out enjoying a meal away from camp. There is plenty of shopping as well, so Kamloops has something to offer for everyone.
I hope to see a lot of fans in the stands in Kamloops this week. I hope you enjoy the experience and the beautiful surroundings of Kamloops, BC!
The BC Lions have released six players according to The Province’s Lowell Ullrich on Twitter and an official release by the team. The Province beat writer also announced that running back Jerome Messam has been asked to leave camp by the club and will be suspended.
The Lions cuts included: RB Keegan Herring, receivers Brandon Thompkins, Calvin Simon, Marc Ison defensive back Jasper Faulk and linebacker Tyrell Graham.
Wally Buono issued a statement on the suspension of Messam saying, ““In the best interest of the BC Lions Football Club and Jerome, he has been placed on our suspended list while he works through some personal matters.”
The team is preparing for its first exhibition game on Wednesday in Calgary.
After the first four days of BC Lions training camp, there is a lot of positives to take from the sessions. It’s also obvious that there is much work to do between now and July 4th, when the the club opens the 2010 season in Edmonton.
The club has found some nice talent in some areas of need, but there are certainly some concerns. In this report we’ll take a quick look at the key positions on offense so far. This is from our observations and restricted access. It should be noted that the Lions have restricted fans to the stands for the first time in several years, so we are a good distance away depending on where the drills are. For instance, the offensive line is often taken to a separate field that does not provide for a good view from the stands.
These observations are from four days and seven sessions of training camp.
Casey Printers started camp looking sharp and confident. But the last day and a half has seen a step backwards. He often scrambles for a big gain, but it means little when no one is allowed to hit you. Printers has shown visible signs of frustration at times, but as the club’s new leader he needs to get back on the saddle and onto the next play and rally the troops when things aren’t going right. He’s had good velocity on the ball and good accuracy for the most part. He looks quick and agile and judging on the pressure the defensive line has gotten on him in practice he’ll need those skills, especially early on as the offensive line takes time to gel into a unit. The backups haven’t shown as much. Jarious Jackson’s velocity looks a bit off. He was shut down from throwing in one session, possibility a maintenance day on his shoulder. Travis Lulay has also struggled with his accuracy. Both have had good sessions, but the consistency is not there. Fourth arm Kyle Parrish is getting reps, but he’s done nothing to suggest he’ll be moving up in the QB pecking order.
One of the biggest questions heading into camp was the status of the offensive line, and from what we can see it remains a question. The Lions sent Jason Jimenez packing and are moving Sherko Haji-Rasouli on the right side, and last year’s practice roster tackle Dumane Duckett will is lining up on the left. In between the tackles are Daren Heerspink, Jon Hameister-Ries and pre-camp newly appointed centre Dean Valli.
The unit is going to take some time to gel, and that is pretty evident on a lot of the drills so far. The club’s mandate has been to be a more physical club this season, and judging by the skirmishes we’ve seen this week, that aspect is certainly evident. But there are concerns, particularly at the tackles and many drills seem to see defensive ends in the backfield quickly. None of the players the Lions have brought in have looked particularly impressive or a threat to supplant the starters listed above, and that has to be a concern if the current lineup proves not good enough. Dane Randolph and Jovan Olafioye have not impressed to date, but have been working exclusively with the backup unit, as the team is obviously hoping to give the chosen starters that gel time we spoke of earlier. Angus Reid is competing hard in a new backup role, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him starting again at some point as Valli continues to evolve in the position. Justin Sorensen seems to have take the more physical plea from Wally to heart and has been very physical at camp, including the domination of Jeremy Gibbs in a heated exchange that saw “Walby Junior” land two heavy punches before teammates could separate them.
The Lions have brought in some nice talent here and it compliments what they already had. That said, Jamal Robertson has separated himself from the pack, and as things stand will be the starting running back on July 4th. It’s who will back him up that becomes interesting. Jamall Lee is lining up at fullback in camp along with the large and quick Jerome Messam. Imports Yonus Davis and Toddrick Pendland have both had some success, but the player pushing Robertson the most is junior star Andrew Harris, who didn’t look out of place at camp last year. Harris has been consistently good and is getting lots of reps and he’s also seen some time on kick returns. The offense has some new looks this year and the possibilities are encouraging for anyone thinking the Lions may be abandoning the running game this year.
The Lions have brought in some nice talent here. Almost every receiver has had their moments, and a few have had some they should have caught. Newcomer Tony Washington has been very impressive, pretty much catching everything thrown his way. Kerry Reed has shown some nice speed, as has Darius Passmore and Steven Black. Matt Chapdelaine has proven he belongs in camp and has had a fairly solid four days, which will hopefully give the kid a break from some fans thinking he’s getting a free ride. Last year’s practice roster Terence Scott was injured early in camp and much to this fans dismay hasn’t been a factor. Nate Binder and Akeem Foster have had a tough time getting noticed.
Amongst the veterans, you can be assured that Emmanuel Arceneaux has come back to improve on his great rookie campaign. He’s easily been the class of the receivers thus far and looks to be headed for a dominant season. On the other end of the spectrum, Derick Armstrong has been a disappointment in the sessions we’ve seen. Too many drops for what you’re used to seeing from Armstrong who is usually pretty sure-handed. Paris Jackson was looking strong before an injury which has kept him out of two sessions as of this post. O’Neil Wilson has had a nice camp and Geroy is looking as gifted as ever. He even got a rude awakening at camp by Tad Crawford who caught him over the middle in the air. It will be tough for a rookie import to crack this receiving core, but if you’re looking for an early candidate for a surprise cut, Armstrong needs to show more.
What’s the outlook?
The Lions look to have added some nice packages to the offense and it looks like there is a lot of speed to choose from. The offensive line is going to be a key, and with a few new twists to the offense thrown into the mix the Lions may need a few weeks to gel and hope the defence can give them the luxury to do so. The recievers and running backs look solid and if Casey Printers and the offensive line can get cohesive the Lions could have a lot of weapons at their disposal.
Next time, we’ll look at the defence and special teams.
Its been a drizzly wet day in Kamloops and the Lions decided that one practice would be the order of the day.
So, we got to sleep in and go for breakfast this morning while the players were in meetings and did film work.
We’re back for the afternoon and will likely see some more rain here before the session is out. Our updates will begin shortly, following the players warmups, around 4:30pm.
4:22pm: Offense is working on some undefended passing routes with a scout team. Likely running through plays to be used Sunday in Regina.
4:45pm: Both sides of the ball continuing to walk through plays. Assuming/hoping eventually we’ll see some scrimmage action.
4:48pm: O’Neil Wilson is quietly having a nice camp. There are some good receivers here. Reed, Washington, Black have all had their moments. Some scrimmage coming up!
4:58pm: Black in for Paris Jackson who is sitting out this session again (precautionary) Team is working on short yardage offense. Black promptly drops a pass in the endzone that should have been caught.
5:00pm: Lyle Green can’t handle a short dump pass. Slippery ball, poor throws and drops are dominating this session. Sloppy.
5:01pm: Problem solved. Throw the ball to Arceneaux. Touchdown.
5:07pm: Printers and the first team O-line getting in some running plays. All the RB’s getting touches. Messam has a strong run bouncing it to the outside. Big fullback with decent speed.
5:13pm: Messam absolutely undresses LaRose with a beautiful stutter step in the open field.
5:15pm: Some concern for Pittman as he gets up slowly attended to by the trainer after a run stop. Pittman missed a couple sessions already with a concussion. This looks an arm or shoulder issue.
5:23pm: Not sure what to make of the lack of work for Jamal Lee so far. Harris on the other hand is getting a lot of work. Perhaps an indication of the lineup for Sunday. Lee is also at fullback.
5:37pm: Team is working on the punt coverage and now moves on for some field goal work. Kicking from the 38 yard line. Both Whyte and McCallum look good.
5:54pm: Team is conducting a brief scrimmage.
6:00pm Its only my uninformed opinion, but I’m guessing by the way Jarious Jackson has been throwing the ball this week, his shoulder is still giving him some discomfort. Derrick Armstrong drops another pass. He has not impressed this week, several rookies look better.
6:03pm: Book it: Your starting running back is Jamal Robertson.
6:06pm: some concern about the backup QB’s. None have looked sharp. If these drills were “live” we may have a couple injured as well.
6:10pm: Practice called.
Standouts today: Jamal Robertson, James Yurichuk, Harris.
Sitting out: Bolden, McKenzie, Jackson, R. Jones, Elimimian.
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.
The afternoon session of June 7th was less physical than the first three of camp, and that was understandable with three fights in the first three sessions, the coaches decided to throttle the boys back a bit with less contact drills, more focus on systems, and a pad-less scrimmage to close things out.
There weren’t really any standouts in the afternoon, as the drills weren’t really telling as far as evaluating talent. But we can tell you this, Emmanuel Arcenaux is going to have a huge year.
Here is our live blog of the afternoon’s proceedings, and of course a gallery of photos.