He just wants to make the football team.
But Vince Young won’t be able to do much of anything these next few weeks without everyone watching.
The former NFL quarterback and Texas Longhorns star signed a deal with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in March. At the time, he said he missed football and he was eager for the opportunity to play again.
“I’m having a good time. The opportunity is great, it’s fun to be back out here playing ball,” he said.
Hundreds packed into Saskatoon’s Griffiths Stadium to catch their first glimpse of him and the rest of the green and white. Some donned Tennessee Titans and Texas Longhorns gear. His past, both good with the Longhorns, and bad, as his NFL career ended, followed the 34-year-old all the way to Saskatchewan.
“I’m not trying to be a celebrity,” insisted Young after day one of camp. “I’m just trying to be a team player, just trying to be a Roughrider right now, trying to make the team.”
Young wasn’t the only one trying to downplay his fame at training camp Sunday, both head coach Chris Jones and quarterbacks coach Jarious Jackson emphasized the work all five of the quarterbacks are putting in.
“We’ve got five good young quarterbacks and they did some good things,” Jones said. “I just want Vince to be Vince and just go out and do the things he’s done since he was a young kid.”
“I think of him as just another guy and I’m sure that’s how he wants to be looked at, you know, he doesn’t want to put himself on a pedestal,” Jackson said about Young, adding there’s still a lot for him to get used to.
At one time Jackson himself was a quarterback from the U.S. adjusting to a new type of football, one with a wider and longer field, a bigger football and an extra defender.
Being able to find that extra guy, according to Jackson, is going to be key to the success of not just Young, but any quarterback looking to make it in the CFL.
“That 12th man being on the field, all the motions, you know, (American quarterbacks are) used to 10 stagnant guys and then maybe one guy moving,” he explained.
Throughout practice, Young was able to make long ball passes look nearly effortless, but struggled a little with the short and medium length passes. However, the wind gusted to over 50 kilometres per hour and wasn’t doing anyone any favours.
Young said in those cases he leaned on the experience of Kevin Glenn and his coaches to get him used to his new surroundings.
“I like those type of things when you interact with your teammates and just having a good time,” Young said, but stressed, “there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
“This is all about getting back into the rhythm and taking off the training wheels and getting back on the bike and playing football.”
Draft picks, suspensions and retirements (oh my!)
The Roughriders announced a number of roster moves the night before camp that had many people wondering what was going on with some of the team’s newest stars.
Offensive lineman Derek Dennis and wide receiver Bakari Grant were moved to the suspended list Saturday. Both are slated to be witnesses in the case against the man who is alleged to have killed Stampeders player Mylan Hicks last year. They had their physicals and picked up their playbooks before heading to Calgary to testify.
Meanwhile, Canadian safety Marc-Olivier Brouillette and running back Aaron Milton both informed the team of their intention to retire just days before camp began.
“Kind of a shocking kind of deal. Milton called me two days ago and (Brouillette) was yesterday. I respect them, they’re both family related and around here family’s first … (they) didn’t feel like leaving home,” Jones said.
As for the second overall draft pick, linebacker Cameron Judge, Jones said the team and Judge are “real close to an agreement” but Judge still has some final exams he has to write in person before he’d be able to come to Canada anyway.
Arielle’s all star
Quarterback Brandon Bridge made several exceptional long bombs to wide receivers in their one-on-one matchups with the defensive backs. Bridge made especially impressive shots to Josh Stanford, Joe Craig and Rob Bagg.
Monday’s practice starts at 9 a.m.