Tuesday, August 26, 2008

All he's asking for is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T

If there's one song on Michael Bishop's iPod that would tell the tale it might be the above classic from Aretha Franklin.

Day one of the rest of Michael Bishop's CFL journey turned out to be a pretty enjoyable experience, as the newest quarterback for the Grey Cup Champion Roughriders took on his new duties for the Green and White.

As the Globe and Mail reports in a story published on Monday, Bishop is finding the atmosphere around Taylor Field to be much more to his liking, leaving no doubt for anyone that the Argo environment was not the most enjoyable place that one might have wanted to work at it seems.

While he leaves all that angst and disappointment from Toronto behind, it would appear that for now anyways, Saskatchewan and Bishop are going to be a pretty happy mix.

Happiness may give way to an unbridled love affair, should Bishop lead the Riders to repeat win of Lord Grey's Mug in November.

Bishop soaks up Saskatchewan hospitality
Globe and Mail Update
August 25, 2008 at 10:58 PM EDT

Michael Bishop's first day in green and white couldn't have gone any better.

He got to run the first-string offence. He had a good day of practice. And, best of all, he says the atmosphere around his new CFL team is nothing like the one he left behind.

“With the success they've had, there's no selfish guys on this team,” the veteran quarterback, who was dealt from the Toronto Argonauts to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday, said yesterday. “I was welcomed real good.

“It's different than Toronto. Everyone talks to everyone, and when you come into a situation like that, you have to feel good about it. From the first time I walked into the locker room, I was greeted. It's a different team and a different atmosphere.”

Bishop, 32, appears to be getting all the respect he feels he was not afforded in Toronto, where, after going 11-1 as the starter last season, he was demoted to backup duty during the first eight games of 2008.

The first-string job appears his to lose in Saskatchewan as the team prepares for its game on Sunday against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in front of what will be a packed house in Regina.

“My first day went good,” Bishop said. “I had the opportunity to work with the first group on offence, completed some throws and threw three touchdown passes. It's a good situation to be in, but I know I have to go out and not press too much. But getting this opportunity says a lot about the coaching staff and my new teammates.”

The ‘Riders are taking what would appear to be a big gamble, bringing a new quarterback to a team that opened defence of its Grey Cup title with six consecutive wins before losing two in a row.

But general manager Eric Tillman insists the change isn't as much an indictment of former starter Marcus Crandell, who is expected to be released as early as today, as an admission the slew of injuries to the Roughriders' offence means the team requires a different kind of quarterback.

Specifically, it requires a pivot with a strong arm and nimble feet, someone who can throw deep or to the wide side of the field and also roll out of the pocket.

“Because of the injury situation, we had to alter our offence,” Tillman said. “When we traded Kerry Joseph [to Toronto in March], we felt we'd have a good offensive line and a receiving corps equal to the better groups in the league. But who could've predicted losing half our offence to injury?

“So we've had to change our strategy and need an athletic quarterback to give us pass, rush options and open things up for [running back] Wes Cates.”

Tillman said the coaching staff knew Crandell's departure would be disappointing to the players, but couldn't resist making the move on that basis alone. And he believes the healing process had already come along way by the end of Bishop's first practice.

“Any time you make a change of this magnitude, with a person as highly respected as Marcus, there's going to be emotion,” Tillman said. “In the big picture, you understand that players are people who wear jerseys for a living. They have strong relationships and there's going to be a reaction.

“But we have a strong group and they'll bounce back and you could see that [yesterday].”
The Argonauts, meanwhile, moved on, not just without Bishop, but also veteran safety Orlondo Steinauer.

Steinauer, 35, had been a mainstay on Toronto's defence since 2000. But the unit has been a disappointment so far this year, and there were rumbles last week that changes were in the offing.

Steinauer's release may also be partly a cost-cutting move because the salaries of six-year CFL veterans are guaranteed for the year after league games this week.

“Sometimes in football, you are faced with having to make difficult decisions involving good people,” Argos GM Adam Rita said in a statement. “Today is one of those times. We believe this move will help us improve our secondary and ultimately win games. We have some young talent on our roster and we are looking forward to seeing them on the field.”

No comments: