TORONTO -- The snow has melted, the grass is green, and the sun is shining. Yes, it's summer in Canada, which means it's time for football.
Another CFL season is nearly upon us, with just days separating millions of fans from the 2014 campaign's inaugural kickoff in Winnipeg, as the Bombers host the Argonauts on Thursday night.
Here are 10 players (in no particular order) to keep an eye on during the regular season:
John Chiles, WR, Toronto Argonauts: Chiles enters the 2014 season amid high expectations from both fans,
and his own organization. In 2013, he racked up a surprising 725 yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie. Can he top those numbers now that he's on the radar of defences across the league?
Zach Collaros, QB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats: If Collaros' 2013 performance is any type of indicator, the Ticats should be
just fine under their new starting QB's leadership. How he'll fare as a starter is yet to be determined, but all signs
are pointing in the right direction in Hamilton.
Jon Cornish, RB, Calgary Stampeders: Despite all the personal accolades collected by the Canadian tailback in 2013 (Most Outstanding Player, Most Outstanding Canadian, Lou Marsh Trophy), Cornish will be the first to tell you that the only trophy that matters is the one given out following the final game of the CFL Calendar. Expect him to do whatever it takes to lift it at season's end.
Darian Durant, QB, Saskatchewan Roughriders: Fresh off his first Grey Cup victory, Durant will look to further cement his legacy in both the CFL and its most intense market. But with no Kory Sheets, Weston Dressler or Geroy Simon to help him offensively, will we see a different Durant in 2014?
CJ Gable, RB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats: Last season's East Division Most Outstanding Rookie jumps, jukes, spins, and
powers his way into the new season, with expectations of developing into an elite CFL tailback. Look for him to anchor what should be a dangerous Hamilton offence in 2014.
Chad Johnson, WR, Montreal Alouettes: With plenty of fanfare, Johnson arrives in Montreal looking to not only
provide some depth on the Alouette offence, but to also re-establish himself as an effective football player. Don't
expect immediate results from the 36-year-old, as it should take him some time to familiarize himself with the new field.
Khalif Mitchell, DT, BC Lions: Back in his comfort zone on the West Coast, Mitchell's nastiness and tenacity is something the Lions will welcome with open arms in what's expected to be a very tight West Division.
Troy Smith, QB, Montreal Alouettes: Imagine the most popular guy at the office just quit, and you were chosen
to step in and replace him. Not the easiest of situations, is it? Replacing Anthony Calvillo is no easy feat, but the Als
appear to have full confidence in their new starting pivot, and they've provided him with all the tools he needs to succeed.
Chevon Walker, RB, Ottawa REDBLACKS: Forced to the bench by CJ Gable as a member of the Ticats in 2013, Walker will try and guide the newborn REDBLACKS to some success as their featured back in 2014. His final pre-season performance (47 yards, three touchdowns) showed he's ready to rock when his team begins their regular season in Week 2.
Drew Willy, QB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Named the starter before he even put a Blue and Gold jersey on, Willy
is charged with bringing the Bombers back into the post-season conversation, and even beyond. While that might
be too much to expect this year, Willy should provide Bomber fans with ample reasons to smile going forward.
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