You may have never heard his name before, but if the first week of training camp is any indication – you might want to learn it.
Qudarius Ford is turning heads at training camp.
And if you’re going to be learning it – you should start with knowing how to say it. Qudarius. CUE-dare-ee-us. There, not as painful as it looks, right?
“Or you can say Q,” he offered politely.
The speedy receiver and punt returner has quite the story. Ford was a walk-on with the University of South Alabama, meaning the team didn’t recruit him, but he made the team anyway. By 2012, his coaches considered him the best cornerbacks in the league.
But that wasn’t the end of his battles. He hasn’t played football since 2014 after a teammate went for a tackle during a game and hit Ford’s leg instead. The result was a torn meniscus and MCL.
“All my life I’ve been an underdog. I’ve always had to prove that I can play with anybody, so this is nothing new to me,” he said after practice last week.
For his shot with the Riders, Ford traveled to Daytona Beach for a tryout. It was there head coach and general manager Chris Jones told him his 5’8” frame didn’t quite fit his mould for defensive back. His speed was attractive to Jones, though, so he asked him try some reps as a receiver and returner.
“Q’s very fast kid … He was a returner at South Alabama … so it was an opportunity for him to go over and possibly play behind Kendial (Lawrence) and be a returner,” Jones said when asked about the switch. “If he makes our football team it’ll be because of his return abilities.”
Ford’s speed and his return abilities have been what’s getting him noticed at camp by coaches and fans alike. He’s been returning punts for touchdowns or near touchdowns through the week.
“Everybody said I was moving fast but really didn’t feel it, I didn’t feel like I was, I mean it’s all I got,” Ford laughed when asked about his Thursday return.
“I just try to use my speed, that’s my strength,” he added. “I mean, I’m not the biggest, but I’ve always been one of the fastest guys on the field and I just try to use my speed and quickness to make plays.”
And while this new role on the offense has a bit of a challenge, Ford considers his chance to make the team a blessing.
“I’m an explosive player, willing to put it all the line to get a chance to play on the team,” he said.
After looking over the film from Saturday’s “sloppy” green and white game, Chris Jones said not everything was as bad as he originally said.
“Defensively they played a little bit fast than what I gave them credit for,” he told reporters Sunday afternoon.
He also gave the team credit for how much work they put in during the first week of camp.
“Yesterday was the first time we practiced in the afternoon and it was a little bit hot. I’m not trying to make excuses for them, but we got about 1,500 reps last week so it was a solid week of work.”
The Riders focused on special teams drills during its Sunday afternoon practice. Offensive and defensive lines spent much of the practice looking at film.
The team will spend the week getting ready for its first preseason game against B.C. on Saturday.