Saskatchewan Roughriders rookie camp came to a soggy end in Saskatoon on Friday, with the rain and wind making for slippery and cold conditions.
“Yesterday we were all sunburned, now today we’re all here shivering,” said Konner Johnson, a Saskatoon Hilltops linebacker who got an invite to camp as a territorial junior.
The rain didn’t seem to stop connections through the air from being made.
“As a group they did a nice job,” said head coach Craig Dickenson of his quarterbacks.
“I thought we saw more balls completed than I was thinking we might, but it’ll only get tougher from here.”
Mason Fine, 25, signed with the Riders in December 2020 and got into one game in the 2021 season, completing five of nine passes for 64 yards.
It’s those snaps and the year of experience with the green and white that could give him the inside track on backing up Cody Fajardo.
“Just being here all last year on the practice roster the majority of the time, just getting those mental reps behind Cody, watching how everything’s done,” he said.
“Coming into rookie camp I’ve felt very confident about the playbook. I still met with [offensive coordinator Jason] Mass last year, this offseason, and felt really good about coming into rookie minicamp, and really that that took a lot of stress off.”
Fine came straight to the CFL after graduating from the University of North Texas, and says he’s trying to soak up all he can from Fajardo in his first taste of professional football.
“Cody is a great quarterback to look up to and he’s been awesome mentoring me and showing me kind of the ropes on how to do it,” he said.
“Taking those habits that I’ve learned from veteran guys and incorporate that into, especially my offseason, and I’ll incorporate that into this season.”
2022 eighth round pick from the University of Regina Rams Riley Boersma is already making an impression as a receiver in his first professional training camp.
“He has done a nice job of camp,” said Dickenson.
“We knew he could move, we knew he was a good athlete, but what we saw here was a high level of compete and I thought he picked up the playbook fairly well.”
Boersma, the first Rams receiver drafted by the Riders since Mitchell Picton in 2017, says he appreciated the way Dickenson was on the field giving feedback.
“It feels really good and I kind of like how Craig does that, you know it doesn’t matter what kind of draft pick you are, like how high or low you were, he treats everyone the same and he coaches everyone up just the same,” he said.
“One thing he told me is after I catch a ball, make sure I bring it up like this, just ball control and stuff like that.”
“We’ve got to get him to chin the football though, he carries it a little low. Looks like a loaf of bread out there at times,” said Dickenson.
Dickenson says the quarterbacks will be taken to main camp, and the challenge becomes trimming the roster down to 85 when it begins on Sunday.
“We challenged the rookies to give the vets everything they got and to try to beat them out for a job,” he said.
“First preseason game is going to be big for a lot of these guys to hopefully stick around and push some of the vets.”