Johnny Adams steals show at Bombers mini-camp
Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Johnny Adams covers receiver Justin Wilson during a CFL football workout at mini-camp in Bradenton, Fla. on April 20, 2015. (Steven Nesius/Postmedia Network)
As if Johnny Adams hadn’t impressed the coaching staff enough during the first two days of Bombers mini-camp, the defensive back out of Michigan State decided one more day of sublime coverage couldn’t hurt.
Adams recorded three interceptions over the first two days of mini-camp, and then he added a fourth on Tuesday morning when the Bombers held a 90-minute workout to close out the three-day evaluation event at IMG Academy.
“Being in the right spot is better than the picks sometimes, because somebody could tip the ball and you could be five yards away from the wide receiver and catch the pick,” Adams said. “Being in the right spot for me is better than catching the pick, but if I’m in the right spot and I get a pick it’s a bonus. I look at it like I’m working hard and I get rewarded for working hard.”
Adams is already under contract with the Blue and Gold, so there’s no doubt he’ll be at main training camp in June at the University of Manitoba’s outdoor football fields.
Some of the other 51 mini-camp participants weren’t under contract going into the weekend, but their agents might be hearing from general manager Kyle Walters soon.
One such player who stood out was receiver Ja-mes Logan, who played at Ole Miss and caught nearly every ball thrown his way, no matter the degree of difficulty.
“It went pretty well,” Logan said. “I had to get adjusted to the first day, second day, the waggle. I caught on to it pretty quick, so from there it was just football. I feel pretty good, but I’m going to do better.”
The top priority for the Bombers going into the mini-camp was finding linebackers, and they believe they have what they need. They just weren’t sure yet which ones were going to get an opportunity at training camp.
TraShaun Nixon got kudos from head coach Mike O’Shea on Sunday, but he wasn’t the only one who stood out.
“There’s a decent mix of size and athleticism and speed,” general manager Kyle Walters said. “It’s a good problem to have, to make sure we get the right four or five, whatever that number is, that we bring up to Winnipeg.”
The Bombers, according to a source, signed five players to contracts during the camp, including linebackers Kenny Tate and C.J. Wilson, running back Carlos Anderson, and receivers Lavon Downs and Jhomo Gordon.
Walters expects to promote approximately 20 mini-camp players to main camp in June.
The mini-camp ran smoothly for the most part at IMG Academy, but Walters didn’t hold back when asked if anything hadn’t gone as smoothly as he had hoped it would.
“What disappointed me was the breakfast hall wasn’t open two mornings in a row,” Walters said. “From our standpoint, when you look at the time and energy that we put into here and there was a screw-up by somebody down here and it was embarrassing for us to show up at the cafeteria ...
“To their credit, they realized the mistake and scrambled.”
The Bombers didn’t miss any practice time because of the mix-up.
Another possible location for CFL teams to conduct their mini-camps is Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Fla., where Montreal and Edmonton are conducting their workouts this month. Saskatchewan, Calgary and Toronto also use IMG for their mini-camps.
Many eyes were on Winnipeg native Jordan Reaves at mini-camp, and it was a mixed bag of results for the 25-year-old son of Bomber great Willard Reaves.
Jordan Reaves, who hasn’t played competitive football since 2005, dropped a lot of balls on Day 1, looked much better on Day 2, and injured his left leg on Day 3 and didn’t finish the practice.
“We understood going in that it’s going to require some work,” O’Shea said. “(Receivers coach) Markus (Howell) was good with him. He gave him a specific task every practice that he had to work on and focus on, and Jordan improved every day.”
The other two Canadian receivers in camp, Kris Bastien and Ezra Millington, committed themselves well. As of now, they are the backups to Winnipeg’s two starting Canadian receivers, Rory Kohlert and Julian Feoli-Gudino.
WILLY LOOKING LARGER
Winnipeg’s plan is to protect Drew Willy better in 2015 than it did in 2014.
Just in case that doesn’t happen, Willy will be ready to take a few more hits.
“It’s definitely the most weights I’ve lifted,” the Bombers starting quarterback said Tuesday about his off-season. “Now I do more yoga kind of stuff to get more flexibility going before training camp.”
Head coach Mike O’Shea noticed a more beefed up quarterback during the team’s mini-camp this week, as well as someone who was more comfortable after having his first CFL season as a starter under his belt.
“It’s obvious to us he’s worked hard this off-season on his craft, not only with the football IQ and the playbook, but he’s physically gotten after it, too,” O’Shea said. “That’s something that Drew identified part way through the season last year that he wanted to do. He’s been thinking about this off-season from the mid-season of last year, and he’s made good on what he said he’s going to do.”
Willy has also been throwing passes to CFL receivers Ernest Jackson (Ottawa) and Luke Tasker (Hamilton) in Buffalo, which is an added bonus to his training.
“It’s good because they all know the waggle,” he said. “It’s hard sometimes to line up your buddies that don’t really know the Canadian game.”
Willy’s busy off-season hasn’t involved only football, either. He got married last weekend, and he became a bit of a YouTube sensation when his and his wedding party’s choreographed dance during the reception went viral.
“I was committed,” Willy said. “(His wife Hillary) wanted to do it, and if I’m going to be on camera and on YouTube and all that, I might as well put forth my best effort. It was interesting for sure.”