April 6, 2016

Checking Down: Mini-camp season set to kick off


TORONTO — While early predictions spark plenty of debate and only a month stands between now and the draft, the biggest sign football is on its way comes this weekend in Vero Beach, Fla. That’s where the Riders will host their annual mini-camp, as the cleats dig in and footballs fly for the first time this year.

That and more as we see what’s happening around the league in Checking Down.

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BC | Calgary | Edmonton | Saskatchewan | Winnipeg | Hamilton | Toronto | Ottawa | Montreal



– After a devastating Achilles injury ended his 2015 season, Lions linebacker and 2014 Most Outstanding Player Solomon Elimimian says he’s past his rehab and onto his every day training.

– Lions offensive lineman Cody Husband is representing not just his team on the field but his Sikh heritage, too. Husband is one of three CFL players who come from Sikh families, the other two being Sukh Chungh and Husband’s BC Lions teammate Jas Dhillon.

– With the addition of defensive tackle Bryant Turner, the BC Lions have added a two-time division all-star in the prime of his career. The 28-year-old spent five seasons with the Bombers before his release last month.

– April 4 marked the anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King in 1968, a day in history that holds plenty of significance for BC Lions Mark Washington, Khari Jones and Marcello Simmons.




– The Eskimos have announced that a ruling has been made on the dispute between the REDBLACKS and Eskimos over the hiring of Head Coach Jason Maas, as Commissioner Jeffrey L. Orridge determined no compensation will be owed to Ottawa from Edmonton.

– In a guest column written for the Edmonton Sun, Eskimos President and CEO Len Rhodes wrote about the importance for his team of making a meaningful impact in the community.

– Rod Pedersen lit a fire under some Edmonton Eskimos this weekend, who were quick to respond on twitter to Pedersen’s early prediction that the Riders will finish first in the West and the Eskimos will finish last.


Johany Jutras/CFL


– Marc Mueller the player had a hard time turning heads at CFL Evaluation Camp back in 2011, but for Marc Mueller the coach it might be a different story. The Calgary Herald‘s Scott Mitchell has more on the Stampeders’ running back coach, the grandson of the late coaching great Ron Lancaster.

– High-ranked prospect and potential first overall pick Josiah St. John didn’t participate in drills at the CFL Combine, but was busy that weekend taking part in interviews. CFL.ca gives you an inside look at his interview with Dave Dickenson and the Stamps.

– Jamie Nye’s ‘way-too-early’ fantasy predictions drew the attention of fantasy pundits and Jerome Messam himself this week, after projecting the veteran running back will be the league’s eighth-ranked rusher in 2016 with 750 yards and six touchdowns. Tyrell Sutton leads Nye’s predictions while he has four running backs going over 1,000 yards.

– Dave Dickenson took over the Stamps’ twitter account to answer questions with hilarious results, from the transition to Jerome Messam at running back to cross-checking from behind in staff hockey.

– In an interview with Stampeders.com, recently-added linebacker Taylor Reed talks about his outlook on the 2016 season as he gets set to anchor the Calgary defence.




– The next key phase of the Riders’ off-season continues this upcoming weekend, as the team holds a free agent tryout on Saturday in Vero Beach, Fla. followed by its annual three-day mini-camp. Quarterbacks Brett Smith and Darian Durant will be on hand along with first-year and negotiation list players as some Riders take the field together for the first time in 2016.

– Rod Pedersen isn’t the only believer in Chris Jones and the Riders’ off-season moves, as TSN‘s Marshall Ferguson also has Saskatchewan finishing first in the West this season and Edmonton falling as low as fourth.



– Bombers offensive lineman Jeff Keeping has been named the new president of the CFL Players’ Association, after defeating Scott Flory in an election at the PA meetings in Vegas.

– The Bombers made a change to their coaching staff on Monday, announcing they’ve moved Linebackers Coach Greg Knox to defensive backs coach while hiring Glen Young as the team’s linebackers coach. Young brings 13 years of experience as a professional football player, including two Grey Cups with the Eskimos in 2003 and 2005.

– Former Bombers defensive lineman and now Winnipeg Free Press columnist Doug Brown says Drew Willy’s health and a harmonious leadership core are among the three things that will define Winnipeg’s season.

– Bombers 2013 second overall pick Andy Mulumba is staying in the NFL for now, the Eastern Michigan product agreeing to a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. Mulumba tore his ACL in 2014 and played sparingly with Green Bay last year before becoming a free agent.

– While Andrew Harris, Weston Dressler and Ryan Smith are among the stars Winnipeg added this off-season, Pat Steinberg wrote in his Monday Morning Quarterback this week that kicker Justin Medlock may have the biggest impact of those signed.


Adam Gagnon/CFL.ca


– Ticats season ticket holders won’t be needing any tickets this season at Tim Hortons Field, as the team is moving to an electronic system which allows entry via smartphone. ‘Collector’s edition’ paper tickets will still be available at a cost.

– The Ticats are getting some big help back, literally, on the O-line, as 6-foot-8 tackle Jake Olson confirmed on twitter he’s struck a deal to remain in Hamilton next season.


Johany Jutras/CFL


– After being selected third overall by the Argos in 2015, the 55-Yard-Line‘s Andrew Bucholtz writes that Sean McEwen is also eligible for the NFL Draft later this month. As Dan Ralph of the Canadian Press writes, McEwen believes he’ll have ‘a good opportunity’ for another shot at the NFL whether he’s drafted or not.

– A $150 million renovation of BMO Field is coming to a close, as the Argos get set to move into the new-look lakefront stadium that will seat just under 27,000 for football and can accommodate 35,000 to 38,000 for the 104th Grey Cup presented by Shaw in Toronto.

– The Argos are hoping linebacker Marcus Spruill will be able to rejuvenate his football career after signing the former Atlanta Falcon to a contract. Spruill was a fifth-round pick with Atlanta before suffering a season-ending ACL tear in 2014.

– Flex packs for 2016 Argonauts games are now on sale, as fans can select any three games for as low as $87.


Kyle Scott/CFL.ca


– The Ottawa REDBLACKS are unveiling a 16 for ’16 list of new things to look out for in 2016, so far revealing the first six items which include a Craft Beer Corner; new items on the food menu; and a season ticket holder card for the upcoming season.

– After a ruling was handed down by the league, the Ottawa Citizen‘s Tim Baines has more on the ruling that the REDBLACKS will not be rewarded any compensation for now-Eskimos head coach Jason Maas.

– REDBLACKS pivot Henry Burris took some time from his busy off-season on Tuesday to answer some of the fans on twitter, offering up his Canadian accent and recalling the fondest memories of his CFL career.


Boston College Athletics

– Former Als offensive lineman Scott Flory tells the Montreal Gazette‘s Herb Zurkowsky that he’s proud of what was accomplished in his two years as president of the CFL Players’ Association. Flory was replaced by Bombers offensive lineman Jeff Keeping after a vote last week.

– Eskimos players and fans weren’t the only ones taking exception to Rod Pedersen’s early predictions, as the Alouettes have also responded to his prediction that Montreal will struggle and there may be a crossover from the West to the East.

– High-ranked draft prospect Mehdi Abdesmad still has his sights set on the NFL, but in an interview with the Canadian Press says suiting up for the Montreal Alouettes ‘would be great’.

– Will Tyrell Sutton repeat as the CFL’s rushing champion? CFL.ca’s Jamie Nye thinks so, after predicting in his ‘way-too-early’ fantasy predictions that Sutton will rush for 1,400 yards.


Iowa Athletics

– Tevaun Smith is number one on the CFL Scouting Bureau and he put in a strong showing at his pro day, but the 23-year-old Toronto native isn’t letting that go to his head, writes Dan Ralph of the Canadian Press.