Winnipeg Blue Bombers kick off rookie camp without 2 top quarterbacks

Usually all of the team’s quarterbacks take part, but Matt Nichols and Chris Streveler both weren’t on the field for the start of Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ rookie camp on Wednesday.

With the CFL and the CFLPA awaiting ratification of their tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement, the pair weren’t among the four quarterbacks practicing on day one.

“They check in with me, right,” head coach Mike O’Shea said. “They call, and let me know what’s going on. I respect their decisions as leaders.”

The playing conditions were far from great for the start of camp, as rain showered down throughout the two-hour practice. Fifty-three players are on their rookie camp roster, and the newcomers will have two more days to impress before some decisions will be made.

“Six years in and you can’t help but feel so excited,” O’Shea said. “Seeing the level of talent that we’re bringing here to rookie camp, and then to main camp is very exciting.

“It’s a long off-season, watching film and making plans. And when you finally get out here with a group of players that are flying around, giving a lot of effort, taking coaching well, and learning to communicate with their teammates, it’s all good stuff.”

Among the players on the field on Wednesday was their first round draft choice, offensive lineman Drew Desjarlais. He signed his first contract earlier in the day. The Bombers’ fourth overall selection is coming off mini-camps with both the NFL’s New York Giants and Pittsbugh Steelers. And he understands there’s a few job opening along the Bombers’ offensive line after the club lost a pair of starters in the off-season.

“Good first day,” Desjarlais said. “I’ve heard about the depth chart. Of course, every day is an opportunity. Training camp is — you’re here to win spots and that’s gotta be the only goal you have.”

The Bombers also made a number of last-minute additions. Defensive backs Payton Hall and Elijah Battle, receiver Chris Hubert, offensive lineman Delroy Baker, and quarterback Sean McGuire all landed on their rookie camp roster. The Bombers also brought in four of their international draft picks. Kicker Gabriel Amavizca Ortiz, linebackers Manuel Hernandez-Reyes and Thiadric Hansen, as well as defensive back Sergio Schiaffino Perez are all getting a tryout.

The club also released linebacker Otha Peters Jr.

The Bombers’ main portion of training camp starts on Sunday.

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