Last weekend seemed to mark the beginning of the end of winter. Down in Florida, it seemed appropriate the Saskatchewan Roughriders were undergoing their second straight mini-camp in Bradenton.

The Riders had 60 players in for the camp, including veterans Tino Sunseri QB; Matt Vonk OL; Corey Watman OL; Morty Ivy LB and Rod Williams, CB. The Riders had six running backs, 15 receivers and four quarterbacks in the mini-camp, how many make it to the main camp are yet to be determined.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders prepare their defense of their 101st Grey Cup Championship this weekend in Bradenton Florida as they host a camp for new signees and negotiation list prospects.

This is the second year the Riders have gone to Florida with the difference being last year the Riders brought the whole team down. The reason for not bringing the whole team is there is little turnover on the coaching staff, so learning new terminology is not that important this year.

Well, let’s start with an announcement that has not yet been made, but is expected soon – Winnipeg will be the host for the 2015 Grey Cup.

BC is hosting this year and Winnipeg will apparently get the nod for next year, if it can put a roof on its press box in its otherwise impressive stadium.

It’s been an interesting two weeks of tying up loose ends around the Riderville quarters. The biggest announcement was Rider Coach Cory Chamblin being resigned for a contract that goes through 2017, which is incidentally the expected first year of the new Rider stadium, assuming they don’t hire the same contractors that were used in Winnipeg.

The days of the Edmonton Eskimos winning five Grey Cups in a row with an unlimited player budget are long past us, which is not good news for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Riders continued their loss of players from the 2013 Grey Cup Championship with punter Ricky Schmitt signing with the BC Lions and running back Jock Sanders signing with the Calgary Stampeders.

It’s tough to understand it at times, but perception is everything when you operate in the public eye.   The Saskatchewan Roughriders seem to know this. After the first week of free agency where the Riders seemed to be stripped mined of Canadian talent and waved goodbye to their leading receiver and running back as they headed south of the border, they knew some fans were ready to throw in the towel on the 2014 season – and we haven’t gotten to the CFL draft yet.

So would the Riders do it all over again? Would they be aggressive on free-agents, signing them with the knowledge their raises would come this season so they could fit under the cap in 2013, all in an effort to win the Grey Cup being held for the last time in Taylor Field?

I would still make that move, even though I would be losing my leading receiver, rusher and four valuable Canadians on defense this year. We are defending Grey Cup Champions and that is sometimes the price you have to pay.

The CFL continues to be interesting just two weeks away from the start of free-agent frenzy, and while there are no major signings at this point – Weston Dressler, Kory Sheets – a lot of stuff has been happening both with the Riders but especially around the league to make things interesting.

Let’s start with the Riders.

The news this Monday is about the first Saskatchewan born football player to make it to the Super Bowl – Jon Ryan, formerly of the University of Regina Rams.

Now consider the possibilities if Ryan and the Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl in two weeks, then Ryan leaves the Hawks to join the Saskatchewan Roughriders who may be looking for a punter just shortly after the Super Bowl.

Don’t laugh – yet.

As the Grey Cup tour makes its’ way to Prince Albert today, with an appearance at the Raider game tonight, remember to bring one thing for autographs, preferably a football or banner, and you can touch the Grey Cup if you want to pose for a photo with it. Just don’t drink out of it.

As the Riders celebrate by bringing the Cup around the province, I’d say take advantage of it because who knows when it might come by again like this. Then I think to myself, probably next year at this time.

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