Giant Step For Canadians

A record ten Canadian university football players were invited to New York Giants rookie mini-camp.

Addison Richards, a University of Regina receiver, was one of the Canadians who came away from the May 8-11 experience feeling confident.

Reed earned a mention in the team’s recap of Day 1 for a toe-tapping grab along the sideline.

“It was very nice to have the opportunity and I think we all made the most of it,” Richards, who was not offered a contract, told Regina Leader Post reporter Ian Hamilton after arriving home. “I certainly felt like I made the most of it and had a lot of fun doing it too. Not a lot of guys can say that they even get to a rookie minicamp, so at the age of 21, it was kind of a nice first step for me. I certainly don’t think it’s my last shot down south by any means.”

“I didn’t think it was that spectacular, but I got to see it on film and it was nice to make a play,” Richards told Hamilton. “But things move so fast that you could make a play or you could mess one up and all that matters is getting on to the next play. . . . . They don’t slow down for anything. The practices are on a tight schedule and there were scripts for every period we did, so we had to make sure we were very much on task and efficient with what we were doing.”

Richards also admitted to being a little star struck.

“You see (head coach) Tom Coughlin on the NFL Network and it doesn’t seem like he’s a real person and then he’s walking around during your warm-up stretch talking to guys,” Richards said. “That was pretty cool.”

Wide receiver Lemar Durant of Simon Fraser University also had a good diving catch at the camp. The pass was thrown by Hawaii product Taylor Graham, who is the son of former Giants quarterback Kent Graham.

In addition to receivers Reed and Durant, CIS players that participated in the Giants May mini-camp included Sukh Chung (OL Calgary Dinos), Sean McEwan (OL Calgary Dinos), Chris Ackie (S Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks) Tevaughn Campbell (CB Regina Rams), Daryl Waud (DL Western Mustangs), Ron Omara (LB St. Francis Xavier X-Men), Danny Groulx (OL Laval Rouge et Or) and Byron Archambault (LB Montreal Carabins).

The number of Canadians attending mini-camps is definitely on the rise, particularly players from the Canadian university system (in addition to the close to 10 CIS players in camp with the Giants, the University of Manitoba’s Nic Demski is attending mini-camp with the Cleveland Browns.

“It says a lot about the expanded rosters (NFL off-season rosters went from 80 to 90 players in 2012), but it also says something about the level of training and preparation kids have in the CIS these days,” Jim Mullin, the voice of Canadian college football on Shaw TV, told the Vancouver Sun’s Mike Beamish. “These kids train 12 months a year, like the kids in the States. There’s no off-season anymore.”

The vast majority of the 65 players who attended the Giants rookie mini-camp won’t make the roster past this weekend (none of the CIS players were offered contracts), but the journey isn’t necessarily over. In addition to the Giants’ newest draft class and the six undrafted rookie free agents the team signed, most players were on a tryout basis and expected nothing more than a chance. Some made the most of their opportunities and could resurface in training camp and future practice squads.

“Just expecting a very professional environment with a high level of work,” said the 6-foot-3, 297-pound McEwen, a graduate of Notre Dame High School. “It’s professional football when you go down there, no one’s playing around. You definitely have to work hard and I think that’s going to be a big adjustment, seeing how hard they work and how much football means to them,” Sean McEwan, the 6-foot-3, 297-pound graduate of Notre Dame High School told the Calgary Herald’s Rita Mingo before the camp. “It’s obviously a pretty long shot to achieve a contract out of all this. Worst case scenario you get a weekend of fantastic coaching and a great experience.”

One possible reason the Giants had so many Canadians in camp was assistant general manager, Kevin Abrams, is a Western Mustangs alumnus (the Giants also recently signed Canadian lineman Brett Jones, who recently played in the CFL).