It was perhaps a little more hectic than he was used to, but Zach Collaros had a lot of fun at his first training camp as a Saskatchewan Roughrider.
Collaros spent the first day surrounded by the Riders top offensive talent including Duron Carter, Naaman Roosevelt and Jerome Messam while adjusted to the high-speed practice that head coach Chris Jones enjoys.
“It was awesome just playing football today and getting out there and talking to (Carter) and Bakari (Grant) and (Roosevelt) … once we got into practice it felt like football again it was a really enjoyable thing,” Collaros said at the conclusion of Sunday’s drills.
“I thought there was a lot of energy and that’s what Coach Jones wants to do is get guys moving around moving fast making it a chaotic thing.”
For scrimmages, Jones uses a double barrel system that sees the field split in half with one offence and one defence running on each side. When one side of the field is scrimmaging, the other is resting making for continuous action on the field.
While Collaros thought it was chaos at first. He thinks it will really help the team in the long run especially as he looks to build chemistry with a new set of receivers.
“It definitely excites me on what we can become,” Collaros said. “We got a long way to go and a ton of potential. I think our ceiling is very high. That’s the exciting point is to be able to come out here with these guys every day and get better.”
“As long as we communicate – that’s the key – and we got a really good group of veteran guys that know this game, know this offence and are very good communicators so I’m very fortunate in that regard.”
Collaros joined the Roughriders via trade with Hamilton in January after floundering in a struggling Ti-Cats offence and eventually losing the starting position to Jeremiah Masoli. The move marks a fresh start for Collaros who says he’s firmly focused on being a Roughrider.
“I think once the season ended (in Hamilton) I saw the writing on the wall of what was going to happen there and being able to sign here and be around some people that I played with and been coached by it was easy to kind of move on from the situation.”
In Saskatchewan, he joins two former teammates who are now established Saskatchewan receivers: Bakari Grant and Chad Owens, something he said has helped a lot as he learns a new offence and the ins and outs of a new organization.
“Just having guys around that I feel comfortable around… Having that is big I think.”
However, starting is not a foregone conclusion for Collaros as Jones reiterated today that there is an open competition for every position on his football team.
“My answer is the exact same. We will evaluate every single position on our football team everything is graded. Nothing has anything to do with anything as far as money or anything else,” Jones said.
- The Roughriders made a series of roster moves ahead of the start of camp Sunday morning most notably releasing running back Cameron Marshall. Marshall was the starting running back until he was sidelined by a knee injury midway through the season. Jones said Marshall was not 100 percent after having surgery in the offseason.
- Marcus Thigpen spoke about his positive drug test for the first time since his suspension was announced in March. Thigpen said he was surprised when he was told he tested positive. “I was just trying to figure out how and why. I was definitely disappointed because I’ve never failed a test and this is my tenth year,” he told reporters. Thigpen’s suspension means he’ll miss the first two games of the season, however, he is able to attend training camp and play in both preseason games.
- Training camp also claimed its first injury of the season with Jake Harty going down during one-on-one drills landing awkwardly and clutching his knee. He limped off the field and did not return. Jones didn’t have an update at the end of practice but expected to find out the extent of his injury Sunday afternoon.
- Offensive lineman Josiah St. John was absent for the first day of training camp after tweaking his hamstring a couple days before camp. Despite this Jones was pleased with the 2016 1st overall draft pick’s offseason work. “He came in and looked great,” Jones said.