After a long winter, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers held their first on-field activities since losing the Grey Cup game last fall. Bombers hopefuls hit the field on Wednesday for the start of rookie camp.
More than 50 players were put through the paces on the first day of the three-day camp at IG Field under the watchful eye of veterans like Willie Jefferson and Brandon Alexander who were watching from the stands.
Recent first-round draft pick Anthony Bennett of the Regina Rams put on the blue and gold for the first time, and there was another new face with a very recognizable name in Michael O’Shea.
No, the head coach did not come out of retirement – Mike O’Shea’s son Michael is trying to crack the Bombers roster in his first camp as a pro.
Michael O’Shea is just trying to fit in like every other rookie and having his father call the shots doesn’t seem to bother him.
“I just act like every other regular player, he’s coach right now and not dad,” said the younger O’Shea. “I’m not worried about that. That’s something that maybe he has to worry about it. I’m just coming out here, giving it my all, trying to make the team.”
“I’m just glad that I got (the) opportunity to play in the CFL,” he said. “Obviously, there’s something special there, but for right now, I’m just focusing on trying to make the team, and not worried about that personal relationship.”
It’s the first time the receiver has had his dad as a head coach in football.
“If he would have been passionate about something else, I’d be just as excited for him,” the head coach said. “If your kid finds something they’re passionate about … I think as a parent, you just enjoy watching that unfold, whatever it is, as long as it’s legal.”
The junior O’Shea appears to be a chip off the old block. The former member of the St. Paul’s Crusaders comes to the Bombers after two years of playing junior football, and the 23-year-old knows he’ll have to earn his stripes before getting a shot with the offence.
“Making any team in the CFL would be an honour; making this team would be even more special,” Michael said. “I think a lot of Canadian guys got to work their way on through specials (teams). So, that’s something I’m really going to focus on for sure. However, I’m not counting myself out at receiver either.”
The Bombers have seven quarterbacks on the field at this year’s camp with returning starter Zach Collaros leading the charge once again. The three-day camp is optional for veteran QB’s but both Collaros and Dru Brown are taking part.
Training camp can be a stressful time, even for the starting quarterback.
“Even years where I would come in as a starter, I’d be like sitting there on Google, like man, if I get cut, what could I do after this? So, yeah, I feel a little bit different, but there’s always that sense of urgency and things you can improve upon,” Collaros said.
The Bombers made five transactions on Wednesday. The club released American receiver Otis Lanier after the first day of camp, and they added three more Americans in offensive lineman Desmond Bessent, receiver Dominick Fiscelli and running back Vance Barnes.
The club also moved linebacker Robbie Lowes to the retired list after he suffered a season-ending injury in training camp last year.
Rookie camp continues on Thursday before concluding on Friday, with the main training camp set to kick off on Sunday.
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