May 14, 2023

News And Notes | Training Camp Day 1

The sun arose early over the Kamloops mountains while the temperature was already flirting with 30 degrees Celsius as practice broke around 11:45 am. That’s all you need to know about how right it felt for the 2023 BC Lions to have all hands on deck for the first time this season.

Main camp at Hillside Stadium kicked off with a ‘back-to-back’ power session on Sunday morning. The first practice was only in helmets while pads came out for the second portion. As is always the case, excitement was high and there were more than a few playmakers on both sides of the ball as many players looked to turn heads from the start. Now for some quick news and notes.

About That Tempo

It should serve as no surprise and may sound a little too cliche, but if it wasn’t the case there would be cause for concern. The tempo and pace were very much on par for an opening day as the team sessions saw great plays on both sides of the ball. No doubt something for Rick Campbell and the coaching staff to strive for.

“Guys came out with great energy. We have a pretty big group of return guys, a good core group of players that have come back here. They’ve come with a purpose,” said Campbell.

“They know the work we need to put in in order to succeed. It’s a good start and we’ve got to keep it going.”

It’s a tribute to both the coaching staff and veteran leaders that the intensity will remain this high going forward.

Your Catch Of The Day.. And Other Offensive Notes

2022 team receiving leader Dominique Rhymes made the undisputed play of the day as he leaped for a diving catch on a ball thrown by Vernon Adams Jr. in the morning session. It serves as no surprise to see Adams Jr. and his receivers making big plays early after a large group was together for Lion Kings Camp in Tacoma while many members also partook in regular sessions in Surrey. There is a case to be made for this offence to be right at the top of the CFL in terms of yards and production. Day one proved just that.

“VA gave me a chance. I know my job on the team, I know my role and that’s to make big plays for the team,” Rhymes said.

“Any time I get the chance to go up, make a play for my team and get the team excited, that’s what I’m going to do. It’s day one, so I’ve got to keep building on it and getting better as camp goes on.”

Return specialist Terry Williams got some work in with the second-stringers and made a couple of nice catches while rookie Kevin Shaa also hauled in a nice deep ball from Dane Evans. As far as the running backs go, Taquan Mizzell and Antonio Williams looked to be splitting reps with the starters early on. This is a competition that will surely be one worth watching throughout camp as Buddy Howell Jr. and Raymond Calais are also very much in the mix.

Defence Holds Its Own

The defensive side of the ball also came up big on a few occasions as Jalon Edwards-Cooper broke up a pass intended for Lucky Whitehead on the first play of the day. Fellow returnee Manny Rugamba was also noticeable in multiple spots of the field while the defensive line was boosted by newcomers Alex Tchangham and Marcus Moore. Woody Baron made his presence felt with a pass knockdown.

It will be interesting to see how much better number 58 performs with a full training camp under his belt after injuries delayed his start a year ago. The rest of the starting defensive line consisted of Mathieu Betts, Josh Banks and Shawn Lemon who is back for a third stint with the team but making his first appearance at a Kamloops training camp. With several bodies, new and returning, at the club’s disposal, the defensive line will be quite the story to follow.

The squad is back on the field Monday morning for a non-padded practice from 8:30-10:55 am at Hillside Stadium.

Matt Baker: