- Free Agency
Hello, Jake Harty. You’ve got our attention. When your breakthrough game comes complete with hanging on to the ball after two giant collisions with hard-hitting Loucheiz Purifoy – trucking him, in fact, on one of them – we notice.
Here are this week’s takeaways.
They’ve known all about that in Winnipeg for a few years, now. Insistent about it and for good reason. Chris Randle, the shutdown corner’s shutdown corner has often been one of those guys that doesn’t, you know, POP all the time. Just goes about his business of covering a receiver so adhesively that opposing quarterbacks don’t often see the point of throwing over there. ‘Cause Chris Randle is very, very good. Thursday night in Montreal he was very, very good again only this time he POPPED.
Two interceptions, including an overtime killer that snuffed out Montreal possibilities and ultimately led to Winnipeg’s winning field goal. Randle was moved up to the linebacking corps a couple of years back and he was mastering it before a knee injury ended his season.
Because, once again, Chris Randle is very, very good. However, he is just so at home on the island, why would you play him anywhere else if you don’t have to? And the Bombers don’t have to because Maurice Leggett took over at SAM when Randle was injured and he’s merely one of the league’s best at that position.
The Riders are one of the “it” teams as we head for the Mark’s Labour Day Weekend games, finding some velocity as they get off the on-ramp and onto the freeway that is the West Division race. Their home win over BC was impressive but, you know, it may have just been that the Lions took them lightly after hammering ’em the week before, right? Maybe. The litmus test, we were told, is whether the Roughriders could go on the road and beat a good Western foe and they did that on Friday night, in Edmonton.
Sure, they may have eased off on the gas after building a big lead and, yes, the injury-riddled Eskies might finally have started leaking oil but the victory came with high-octane performances on both sides of the ball. The Riders, it seems, have popped the top and might be set to crank the stereo as the landscape whizzes by. “Echo Beach,” by Martha and the Muffins is a great, late summer cruising song if you’re looking for suggestions. But, you do you.
Over the last couple of weeks there has been talk in Calgary about getting sophomore receiver DaVaris Daniels more involved in the offence.
Prior to Saturday night’s win over the Argos, Daniels was averaging a little over three catches a game, for about 54 yards. He had two touchdowns in 2017. Against Toronto, Daniels pulled in eight receptions for 114 yards, doubling his touchdown count in one night. And he did it in spectacular fashion, muscling his way to those two touchdown catches, out-duelling defensive back Brandon Harris, who was covering him like a Lycra men’s romper. Hey, whatever happened to the men’s romper? Wasn’t that supposed to be a thing this summer? No? Just me? Never mind, the Stamps had a much more pressing question. Get Daniels more involved?
Mission accomplished. DaVaris Daniels is staking his claim and it appears there’s plenty of gold in them thar hills as we head to the second half of the season.
In this Year of the Receiver, we’ve seen just about all of it and celebrated it as we should. Daniels, Naaman Roosevelt and Clarence Denmark being the latest to make us rise from our seats and slow clap for their impressive feats. Speaking of rising, Ottawa defensive end Jonathan Newsome showed off a spectacular vertical in snagging a late interception against the BC Lions, putting the game away for an increasingly nervous REDBLACKS team.
At 6’3″, 235 lbs, Newsome looked like Manny Arceneaux on that play, although he is an inch taller and a full 25 pounds heavier. He has ten pounds on another beefy, vertically impressive receiver, Edmonton’s Duke Williams. Not only did Newsome go up to come down with the ball, earlier in the play he got in quarterback Travis Lulay’s throwing lane, forcing Lulay to be off target, creating the ricochet that led to his launch. The REDBLACKS have added some explosiveness to their trench game. Maybe to their receiving game, too, if they’re ever so inclined to line him up on that side of the ball just for fun.
It went into the books, officially, as a 113-yard return of a failed convert attempt (hats off to defensive lineman Nick James for getting a mitt on the ball as the kick was sailing past the line of scrimmage), but Duron Carter’s epic journey was measured by the folks at TSN as being more like 157 yards, all tolled. Carter actually picked the ball up in the end zone, right beside the goal post, then veered left. Seeing no creases to exploit over there, he circled back and retreated in the end zone, then sprinted to his right where he did, in fact, find a hole.
Then another. And one more. Then, he was gone and for a journey worthy of Homer – the poet, not the nuclear power plant worker – all he got was a measly two points, which is the rule, after all. Carter celebrated three stat holidays and had a Jon Gott-worthy beard by the time his odyssey ended. Don’t know about you but I wouldn’t mind seeing turnovers on converts be ruled touchdowns if hiked all the way back. Now THAT would be a spicy meatball.
Judging by the look on Mike O’Shea’s face afterward, it’s not a good idea to quick-kick from your own seven-yard line with seconds left in a tie game. But it sure was fun to watch, wasn’t it? Mike?