PAISLEY, Fla. — When the Argonauts coaching staff gathers on Monday at the team’s training facility in Mississauga to review the free-agent camp, they might think they’re watching a loop when D.J. Boldin pops up on film.
Boldin caught just about everything thrown his way during their camp, which concluded with a final workout on Friday morning.
There remains plenty of work ahead if Boldin is to earn a job in the receiving corps in training camp in June. But he’s firmly entrenched himself in general manager/head coach Jim Barker’s thought process with his overall performance in the sunshine state.
The Argos added Boldin, the younger brother of NFL star Anquan Boldin, to their practice roster last October and signed him to a contract in December. Boldin was one of a handful of players at this camp who already had a deal with the Argos done on paper, but that did not stop him from leaving everything on the field.
“There’s a window of opportunity and I am ready to jump through it,” Boldin said. “I’m aware that this was the first step in the process. Last year I got a feel for CFL football and what they are looking for in a receiver. I’m ready for that.”
Cory Boyd carried the Argonauts offence in 2010, and the Boatmen’s leading receiver, Jeremaine Copeland, had just 639 yards. Receiving is an area that has to improve in 2011, and Boldin could be a guy to help make that happen.
“He has a knack,” Barker said. “He is a little like his brother, who does not have blinding speed but makes all the plays. D.J. isn’t afraid to throw his body around out there, and he was impressive.”
The Argos had 49 players in this camp (keep in mind that some were veterans), and when the dust settles from the post-camp meetings held by Barker and his staff, approximately 25 of them will be at rookie camp. Of the new players, expect perhaps no more than a handful to have an impact on the roster.
Boldin had company among those who stood out. Receiver Jerome Hewitt, who will have a chance to back up return star Chad Owens, was sharp. Running backs DeCori Birmingham and Gerald Riggs appeared to do enough to earn the right to compete at training camp.
On the defensive side, no one had a presence like that of lineman Claude Wroten. He also has a contract, and depending on what Adriano Belli decides to do (Belli and Barker are scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss Belli’s future), Wroten should have a legitimate shot at earning a spot on the line.
Expect to see defensive backs Dee Webb and Devonte Edwards when camp opens at Erindale. The same goes for linebacker Durrell Mapp and defensive lineman Chris Bradwell.
“This was their opportunity to get a headstart in terms of what we do,” Barker said. “Then they get to rookie camp, and next, I expect some of them to compete and beat out veterans. A rookie has to come in as a guy who has a really good feel for what we are doing. This group had some talented athletes.”
As for the quarterbacks, Barker will have at least four but no more than five at training camp. Cleo Lemon, Steven Jyles and Dalton Bell are locks. Matt Grothe and Danny Brannagan are ahead of B.J. Hall, who is not signed, on the depth chart.
Boldin, who will turn 25 on June 20, has a deceptive speed level that helped make him effective during the past three days. The 24-year-old knows when to turn it on.
“I think guys think I am slow,” said Boldin, who is close to his older brother and talks football with him regularly. “But I will run past you. When I get the ball, it’s fair game.”