It was a scene which perfectly represented the value and power of connecting and engaging with the local football community.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had just put the finishing touches on the final day of training camp late Friday morning when Jackson Tachinski wedged his way into a group that included Zach Collaros, Dru Brown, Dakota Prukop and Buck Pierce for a photo.
And as the University of Manitoba Bisons quarterback celebrated his final day at training camp as part of the CFL/U Sports Canadian QB initiative, the man snapping the photo was defensive tackle Cole Adamson – the Blue Bombers fourth-round selection in the 2022 CFL Draft – who will also be returning to the Bisons for what will be his final year of U Sports.
Two Winnipeg products, both wearing Blue Bombers colours and rubbing shoulders with Collaros, Pierce, Willie Jefferson & Co.?
“It was such a good experience to see how pros do their thing and to just see how they work with film and on the field,” said Tachinski. “It was a real treat to just see them with your own eyes.
“I said before camp that I hoped Zach wouldn’t get sick of me asking him a bunch of questions. But, honestly, he would talk me through things without me even asking. He’s that kind of guy, a really great guy. Just listening to him talk I learned so much. I didn’t need to ask too many questions because he taught me so much on his own and I’m appreciative of that.”
Tachinski’s on-field work was limited during camp, as the Blue Bombers worked to get Collaros ready for next week’s season opener against the Ottawa RedBlacks, while also using the time to evaluate the QBs behind him on the depth chart like Brown, Prukop as well as Joe Mancuso and Jake Floriea.
It was what he was able to soak up while watching, both on the field and in the QB room, that will be invaluable when he returns to the Bisons, who are scheduled to open camp in mid-August.
“I’m itching to get back to my university team and to training,” he said. “I was here for experience, not so much for the reps, I really feel like I’ve gotten better just by being here and seeing how things work.
“They know how to do things efficiently and it was good to pick up some tips and tricks along the way. I just want to use every second to get better. Here they have all the quarterbacks in the back of the drill doing their footwork, doing their reads, working their eyes. That’s something I want to work on when I get back to the Bisons.”
The experience, in that respect, was much different for Adamson. He was in the grind of camp every day and tried to soak up as much as possible from players like Jefferson, Jake Thomas, Jackson Jeffcoat and Casey Sayles, as well as defensive line coach Darrell Patterson.
“It’s been just super cool interacting with all the guys,” Adamson said. “This is the top D-line in the CFL, so to get tips from them and just hang out with these guys was quite an opportunity.
“Going back to the Bisons I really want to keep playing at the speed of this game and really work my technique. Being here really made it apparent to me that you really have to work on your technique and not just rely on your size – you really have to work your hands. That’s what I want to focus on the most when I get back to university.”
Adamson played in both pre-season games and in the first – vs. Edmonton at IG Field – he registered a sack and had two tackles while playing in front of friends and family.
“It’s been kind of a blur,” he said. “This whole camp went by quickly now that I look back at it. I know when I get a chance to step back from this and reflect back that moment will always be pretty special for me.
“Now when I go back to the Bisons I’ll feel like I’ll have a lot more confidence in my game and be able to play at a higher speed and try to make every play. Practising against these guys – and today it was against the whole (starting) offensive line – you could feel those guys and it shows you what the next level is like. I’m hoping I can carry that through with the Bisons and have a great season for my one last ride with them.”
Tachinski dressed for the home pre-season game and participated in the warm-up but did not see the field. He didn’t expect to at all and just pulling on a Bombers uniform was one of his camp highlights.
“To be able to dress for the home pre-season game… that was so cool,” he said. “I mean, to walk into the dressing room and see my last name on a jersey, it’s what every kid in Winnipeg dreams about. Running out of the tunnel, seeing the crowd and being on the sidelines… that’s something I’ll never forget.”
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