WINNIPEG - Paul LaPolice isn’t feeling any extra pressure to win now that the NHL is back in Winnipeg and the battle for paying sports fans has increased.
In fact, the Bomber head coach would love to become a permanent fan of the Winnipeg’s new NHL squad.
There’s just one tiny catch.
“I’d like to buy some season tickets, but jeez, a three-year agreement? That’s tough on coaches,” LaPolice said with a laugh. “So we’ll have to look at that.”
The second-year Bomber boss on Wednesday got a look at some of the players he hopes will get him a little more job security. The Bombers kicked off their annual rookie camp at Winnipeg Indoor Soccer Complex, with more than 30 hopefuls and the team’s four quarterbacks hitting the field for a 70-minute workout.
Rookie camp continues Thursday and Friday at Canad Ins Stadium, and the veterans report on Saturday. The first day of full camp is Sunday.
The opening day of rookie camp is never pretty, and Wednesday was no exception. While there were flashes of brilliance here and there, passes were dropped, cuts could have been quicker, and the amount of pass interference was off the charts.
Not only that, but LaPolice scolded injured rookie receiver Tim Brown for wearing a Rutgers jacket to watch practice.
“He doesn’t play for his school anymore,” the coach mumbled.
In other words, the learning process is moving at warp speed and LaPolice wants to see who can keep up.
“We want listening skills first and foremost, and then all the athletic stuff comes second,” LaPolice said. “So they’re all pretty good athletes, but are they going to do what we teach them to do?”
One intriguing prospect is 6-foot-1, 300-pound defensive tackle Andre Caroll, a rookie straight out of Delaware State. He normally plays between 280 and 290 pounds, so he’s trying to get used to a new league, a new country and a bigger body this week.
That’s all, though.
“This is the first time I ever bumped up, but I feel pretty good,” Caroll said. “I’ve been working on it for a couple months now.
“It’s kind of a more passing attack (in the CFL) and you gotta get used to lining up a yard off the ball, so I’m working on that. It was a good first practice. I gotta keep working.”
No. 1 quarterback Buck Pierce was out slinging passes on Wednesday, just as he did at the team’s mini-camp in mid-April. He said his throwing elbow, which he dislocated in last year’s Labour Day Classic, is all good.
“The ball’s coming out good,” Pierce said. “The ball feels fine. It feels very good, actually. I don’t feel any different.”