Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saskatchewan Roughriders' training camp: Battle in trenches heated for MEAC stars

Defensive lineman Stevie Baggs (90) and offensive lineman Andrae Townsel have been doing battle at training camp. Baggs and Townsel both played in the MEAC. Baggs, 27, played with the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats and was a three-time all-American. Townsel, 25, played with the Howard University Bison and was an all-MEAC honorable mention in his senior year.

The trenches have already produced some memorable battles during the early days of the Saskatchewan Roughriders' training camp. Some of the more impressive tussles have featured veteran defensive end Stevie Baggs and rookie offensive tackle Andrae Townsel. One can barely step into Mosaic Stadium without hearing that the two have engaged in another epic struggle during one-on-one drills.

"The battles on the field are as intense as they get,'' Townsel said Tuesday after the Riders completed the third day of training camp. "It's almost like game preparations but it's all love. There isn't anything personal. They get it all on film and afterwards we walk to the sideline and tell the guy, 'Good rep, good rep.' ''

From the safety of the sidelines, it doesn't look like a lot of affection is being shown when the offensive and defensive linemen collide in one-on-one drills. It's an intense 20-second battle of wills. "We're just trying to make each other better,'' said Townsel. "He's making me a better offensive tackle and I'm making him a better defensive end.'' Townsel has the size advantage. The native of Detroit is 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds. Baggs, who hails from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is 6-foot-1 and 241 pounds. It's about Townsel's might versus the speed of Baggs. The collisions and skirmishes after the contact are must-see viewing during training camp.


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