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Wally Buono didn’t hold anything back when he said his players needed a better effort than what they showed in Tuesday’s pre-season loss at Calgary. The good news is they still have a handful of training camp practices and another tune up game June 16th at home to Saskatchewan. That being said, you can’t just simply file the first one away and be done with it. That’s what Buono preached to his troops as they returned to Hillside Stadium Thursday morning.
“One of the things that I did notice was that I thought we maybe didn’t play as well on defence as we did,” said Buono of what he learned from the game film.
“The guys are working, the guys are trying to understand the positions. We definitely have to improve in a lot of areas. The extra eight days of practice and another big game is going to help us to make a decision.”
The decision is the fact they have to trim their roster down from 80-plus to 46 (not including the practice squad) in time for the June 24th season opener. The first big round of cuts is expected to take place on Saturday. You can bet Buono and his staff will be going back and forth on quite a few guys between now and then.
Buono is in the middle of his 46th CFL training camp and has won more games than another head coach in this league. You’d figure he has seen it all and done it all, but he admits this year’s scheduling quirk has made the process a bit more challenging.
“You come into camp and six days late you’re playing. Half of these guys have never seen our game and now you’re asking them to go out and play at a fast pace. It’s s huge learning curve. Some of the young guys prospered because of it and now it’s time to hone down.
After taking Wednesday off to rest from the game in Calgary, Buono emphasized to his group the importance of practicing at a high pace. The afternoon padded session featured lots of no huddle and finished with some 1st and goal situational practice. Linebacker Tony Burnett was one of the big standouts on defence. Mic’hael Brooks and Andrew Hudson made life difficult for the quarterbacks. On the other side of the ball Maurice Morgan continues to perform well with the receivers and Douglas McNeil made some tough catches in tight coverage. Chris Rainey showed well in the packages he was featured as the tailback. It will be intriguing to see what kind of a role he can play behind Jeremiah Johnson.
“I’m just here trying to do the best that I can do. I know I put in a lot of work this offseason to prepare to come in and be better. How much better am I? That’s up to coach. I feel much more comfortable out on the field for sure.”- defensive lineman Maxx Forde on how much better he is compared to last year when Buono singled him out as one of the most improved players at the end of camp.
As is the custom following the first game action, the injury report has a few more names. Receiver Brett Blaszko (hamstring) and linebacker Cameron Ontko (hip flexor) did not practice Thursday.
Marquis Jackson, Junior Luke and Ken Boatright sat out to rest some bumps and bruises.
Luther Maddy (broken hand) and Dylan Ainsworth (neck) remain out of action. In addition, fellow defensive lineman Frank Alexander has returned home to rehab his ailing foot.
The double days continue with padded practice from 8:30-10:30am. They will be in helmets and shorts from 3:30-5:30PM.
Matt Baker: email@example.com