Blue Bombers back on the field for 1st time since before pandemic cancelled 2020 season
Training camp opened Saturday ahead of 14-game season, which will kick off Aug. 5
Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Andrew Harris was on the field 20 minutes early for the team's first day of training camp — and so were a lot of his teammates.
"You could just tell that guys were excited and eager to get on the field," Harris said on a Zoom call with media outlets after the camp, which marked the first time the team was back on the field together since the pandemic cancelled last year's season.
Soon, the team will start looking forward to defending its 2019 Grey Cup title.
This year's tightened 14-game season will kick off on Aug. 5, when Winnipeg faces off once more against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats — the team it beat 33-12 for its first CFL title since 1990.
But for now, the players are focused on getting back into the swing of things — and relishing the opportunity to be back on the field, said defensive back Brandon Alexander.
Alexander said on Saturday morning, the field was "all smiles."
"It feels wonderful to be back out just around the guys and being able to get back in the flow of things," he said.
"That's kind of really all that matters right now."
WATCH | Brandon Alexander on starting this year's season after pandemic pause:
Quarterback Zach Collaros said while things will be a little different this year because of how long it's been since last season, it didn't take long to feel like the team was just picking up right where it left off.
"Once we started warming up, it's kind of like the game," he said.
"Once that first snap hits and you're calling the play, the formation, the snap count, what tempo it is and all that, you kind of just get back into that mode, the thing you've been doing your entire life."
Coach Mike O'Shea said things at training camp might stay lighter for a few more days than usual because the players have been away for so long, but it won't take long for them to get back in the swing of things.
And for newcomer Cam Meredith, who joined the team last week after an NFL career that was cut short by injuries, it was nice to come back to Winnipeg, a city he'd visited before with his Canadian girlfriend.
"I've come up here a couple times, hit The Forks, done some skating and all the good stuff," he said.
"So I'm glad to be back and playing some ball."