Winnipeg Blue Bombers open training camp, hit turf for the first time in 19 months

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have officially opened their 2021 training camp after hosting a series of player meetings at IG Field earlier this week. Global's Marek Tkach was there.

It’s been over 19 months in the making — CFL training camps are officially underway from coast to coast.

That meant the Winnipeg Blue Bombers hit the turf this morning for the first time since hoisting the Grey Cup on November 24, 2019.

“Finally we’re here,” smiled quarterback Zach Collaros.

Zach Collaros waiting for a snap on the first day of Blue Bombers' training camp.

Zach Collaros waiting for a snap on the first day of Blue Bombers' training camp.

Marek Tkach / Global News

“For some people, some of us have been in places where you haven’t even really been able to be around other human beings, so that’s been nice to be around other people,” said Collaros.

Winnipeg’s starting pivot has only suited up for five games with the blue and gold, but with the upcoming campaign marking his tenth year in the CFL, he doesn’t want to rely on his veteran instincts more than he has too.

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“I’m treating it like I’m a rookie or just completely new to the team. There’s been a couple light bulb moments throughout the off-season and into these first 14 meetings that we’ve had here, even today on the field where it’s a light bulb moment … For me it’s kind of like starting from scratch.”

His backfield partner, Andrew Harris, has a special opportunity this season.

The tailback needs 962 yards on the ground this year to reach 10,000 for his career — something accomplished by only five CFLers previously.

Andrew Harris running a drill during the first day of Blue Bombers' training camp.

Andrew Harris running a drill during the first day of Blue Bombers' training camp.

Marek Tkach / Global News

“Based on my numbers the last few years, just the yards per game even with a shorter season, it should be attainable, but, again, the biggest thing is not how many yards I’m going to get,” said Harris.

“It’s making sure that on August 5th we’re firing on all cylinders and we have to come out of the gate fast with a shortened season like this.”

With a shortened 14-game season coming up, an extended layoff due to the pandemic is already hitting some teams harder than others.

Four Saskatchewan Roughriders suffered Achilles injuries earlier this week.

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“All the coaches and management teams are all feeling the pain that Saskatchewan is going through and obviously when these things happen, as with a lot of things, you always validate your plan,” explained head coach Mike O’Shea.

“But we haven’t changed anything,” he continued.

“We were quite comfortable going in with the plan that Al Couture, Brayden Miller, myself and coaching staff agreed to, so we’ll just continue ahead.”

The Bombers will charge ahead towards a season-opening Grey Cup rematch at IG Feld with the Hamilton Tiger Cats.

“It’s a good day. It’s a good day for the CFL,” O’Shea said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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