Riders roster will be tough to crack for new receivers

By Arielle Zerr/CJME News Staff
May 30, 2018 - 2:27pm

You don’t want to be a flash in the pan.

Words from Rob Bagg when he was asked what his advice to the rookie receivers is. In fact, it was the same advice he got when he was getting started.

Cracking a professional football roster is no easy task, but it might be the hardest task of all if you’re a new or even sophomore receiver at Roughrider training camp.

Alongside Bagg lines up a list of some of the CFL’s brightest veteran receivers: Naaman Roosevelt, Duron Carter, Bakari Grant and Chad Owens.

Three of them – Carter, Roosevelt and Grant – had 1,000-yard seasons. All of them made spectacular catches are were a big part of the Roughriders run to the Eastern Final.

“It’s going to be a great competition,” said head coach Chris Jones about the receiver position. “We’ve got three more guys this year, one small one and two big ones that are impressing a lot of people … so certainly it’s going to be tough to crack our roster at the receiver position.”

Especially because the veterans have no intention of giving their spots up to their younger counterparts.

“Bring all the young bucks you want,” said Chad Owens defiantly. “I’m going to outwork them.”

Bagg feels the same. He takes nothing for granted and works just as hard, if not harder than he did in his early years.

“As you get older, obviously you’re not going to wow them with your mental acuity or anything like that – that’s expected (of you),” he said. “Physically you just want to come out and show them that you can still run that you still have that work ethic … just go out there and work hard and try and show the young guys that even as older players you can go out and put out 100 per cent.”

The competition is obviously there – there are jobs on the line – but that doesn’t mean the veterans aren’t helping the new guys along the way.

“Everyday they are helping me, every day we’re installing new plays and new formations so we have to lean on the vets to show us what to do and how to carry ourselves,” said 24-year-old Jordan Williams-Lambert. “ A lot of the vets have been doing it for multiple years so when it comes to different pointers and different recommendations they can give – we’re always listening.”

Williams-Lambert has been a strong presence at training camp so far and also nabbed two receptions for 32 yards in Sunday’s game, but there are still a few things he’s getting used to.

“I would say the running start, just being able to time it up and how you can use it to your advantage – they call it the waggle – if you know how to waggle … you can play a long time in this league,” he said. “The vets, they’ve kind of been giving me pointers on the things that I can do to change it up and that helps me get open.”

“We try to do a good job of just helping (the rookies) out,” Roosevelt said. “Any questions they have we tell them to come talk to us, anything they want to work on or anything they want to know about the league … I think that’s what it’s all about it.”

Roosevelt himself got that kind of help when he came from former Rider receivers like Taj Smith and Weston Dressler.

“They taught me so much about the game,” he said.

And it’s the selflessness and willingness to help one another that the receiver group has that has lead to their success, according to Owens.

“There’s no egos and that’s the good thing about us. It’s hard to be a receiver and not have an ego, but if you understand the bigger picture and buy into that, you should have a successful year.”

Something Williams-Lambert has already picked up on.

“We’re all here for the same purpose — to win a job — but at the end of the day we’re teammates so we work to help each other because if we’re all doing the right thing it makes our group look better as a whole.”

 

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