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Roughriders rookie camp to expose more than new names

Updates address team deficiencies, build on strengths
Reported by Joel Gasson
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Thursday marks the kickoff to rookie camp as the Saskatchewan Roughriders start to get ready for the 2012 regular season.

Corey Chamblin is starting his first season as head coach, but he’s not the only new one to the team.

There are all new quarterbacks except for Darian Durant. The others are J.T. O'Sullivan, Levi Brown, Colt Brennan and Drew Willy.

"J.T. (O'Sullivan) is more of a drop back," said offensive coordinator Bob Dyce. "Levi (Brown) is probably more of a drop back passer, where Drew Willy and Colt (Brennan) might be a little more mobile."

With the mix of styles in camp, Dyce says that they're not really looking for a specific style of quarterback.

As for Darian Durant, Dyce says they want to see him limit his mistakes. Usually those mistakes happen when he forces a throw.

Who Durant is throwing to could be a little different too. Big names like Weston Dressler, Chris Getzlaf and Rob Bagg are back. Bagg is back after missing all of last season with an injury.

Most of the new receivers coming in are from south of the border. Most notable are Sinorice Moss and Dwayne Jarrett.

"The biggest adjustment for them is how do they work within the group, and timing up their waggle to each quarterback," said Dyce.

Another big battle in camp will be at running back with Brandon West being the one with the most CFL experience.

Dyce says that the running game will have to be better this year. He says it will help the offense get better second down yardage and will keep defenses honest.

One way the running game can be better will be with an improved offensive line.

"Just like when you're building a house, the foundation is the most important thing," said Dyce. "I believe our offensive line is our foundation."

The team bolstered the line by bringing in high profile free agents Dominic Picard and Brendon Labatte. University of Saskatchewan's Ben Heenan was also picked up first in the CFL draft by the Roughriders.

The defensive side of the football was one of the bright spots last season.

That being said, defensive coordinator Richie Hall says they can still be better.

Coaching staff put a big emphasis on creating turnovers at mini-camp and Hall says that will continue.

"We really want to make that a big point as well as getting consistent pressure on the quarterback," said Hall.

One key player that will try to make that happen is Odell Willis, whom the team traded for in the off-season. Willis was the league's co-leader in sacks last season, something the other teams will have to pay attention to.

"That frees up one on ones for other players," said Hall. "It's a domino effect. You have to account for Willis."

One huge defensive battle in training camp will be at linebacker, with basically none of the starters returning. Shomari Williams is moving back to the position he played in college. The only thing that seems to be set in stone is the fact that it will likely be held by non-imports.

No matter the defensive position, Hall says you can expect the defense to be more aggressive this year.

"We want to be aggressive in our technique, we want to be aggressive in our drive to the football, we want to be aggressive in our overall play," said Hall.

Rookie camp and training camp will be held at the University of Regina this year because of the renovations at Mosaic Stadium. Free parking will be available for fans in lot 17.

You can read Jamie Nye's position by position previews here.