As conversations between the CFL’s nine owners and the CFLPA continued, teams across the league kicked off their rookie camps, including the Ottawa Redblacks. This time around, there are a few key differences that are forcing head coach Paul LaPolice to adapt to the changing times.
Last year, it was COVID-19 and dealing with all of the mandates, the testing, and the constant fear of losing players if they tested positive. Now, the Redblacks are an entirely different team, after a massive offseason that saw them sign multiple big-name players, but while they hoped their quarterbacks would be at camp, instead, they have been instructed to sit out by the CFLPA.
Without Jeremiah Masoli and Caleb Evans, LaPolice has been forced to give the ball to Tyrie Adam, Oliver Roy, and David Moore, all of whom have no experience in the CFL. That can provide a challenge at times, and it’s forcing LaPolice to be a little bit more hands-on with his quarterbacks than he might be used to.
“Calling plays in the huddle,” LaPolice said after a large exhale. “There’s like six different ways of calling plays, so I have to do some teaching. There’s a lot more teaching, from the cadence [and other things]. Usually, if you have veteran guys, he can bump in and do a lot of things, and you’re analyzing every single bit [for the rookies]. How do they get into the huddle? How do they call plays? They haven’t done it before, so you just have to push them in the right direction.”
That isn’t the only sudden change to rookie camp that has LaPolice changing things on the fly, either. Late in the offseason, the CFL announced they would be making a handful of changes to the rules, including moving the hash marks in, and aligning them more similarly with what you see in the NFL.
“I think that’s going to be a moving target for us, going through camp,” LaPolice said. “Trying to see what things we can adapt, and understand how it looks and how we can build reads into the quarterback. I’m kinda excited to be watching the tape. We didn’t even see the lines until [we got here] because of the soccer game, so it gives us some time to start sorting that out. That’s a work in progress.”
Regardless of the challenges some of the changes are posing right now, LaPolice is excited to be back on the field, coaching football.
“I liked watching the start of the process,” said LaPolice. “Usually, at the start of rookie camp, there’s not a lot of great things, but I thought some of the one-on-ones were okay. It’s an adjustment to the hash on a daily basis, and I thought our players adjusted to that really well.”
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