SASKATOON — The weather conditions switched from sunburns to freezer burns as the Saskatchewan Roughriders concluded rookie camp on Friday.
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The final session of the three-day camp took place during a steady rain with winds gusting to 45 km/h. The temperature was 8 C, compared to plus 20 C and sunny skies during the opening two days.
“I was actually expecting it to be worse,” Riders head coach Craig Dickenson said after Friday’s session at the University of Saskatchewan’s Griffiths Stadium.
“I was looking really closely to see how was coming out late because it wasn’t ideal. Everybody was out here bouncing around and they competed hard. They knew that we had to make some cuts after this. There will be some tough decisions to be made.”
Friday was the first opportunity for the rookies to perform in pads in advance of main training camp opening on Sunday.
“I was really pleased with the effort,” Dickenson said. “We had a lot of guys out here and it was their first experience with the CFL and being coached by our staff. They hustled and they did all of what asked of them. They showed good energy and showed that they cared about football.”
There is still some uncertainty whether the main camps will open on Sunday due to the ongoing labour dispute between the league and the CFL Players’ Association. The players would be in a legal position to strike at 10 p.m. CST if a new collective bargaining agreement can’t be reached.
“We can only control what we can control and we want to coach the guys that are here,” Dickenson said. “If something happens and they are not here, then we will adjust. You’ll know when we know, so to speak. We’re optimistic. Hopefully both sides will feel satisfied with whatever comes out.”
If an agreement is in place, the Riders’ main training camp would open at 9 a.m. on Sunday. The sessions are scheduled to run to approximately 12:30 p.m.
Regardless of the labour situation, there is still work to be done for the Riders’ football operations staff. Teams are allowed to bring 85 players and non-counters (such as juniors and drafted players) to the main training camp.
Dickenson said the seven or eight of the prospects that had attended the rookie camp would have to be released.
“We’ve got a lot of film to watch and lot of meetings over the next 12 hours,” he said.
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