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