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: