May 16, 2018

Checking Down: All the latest as rookies, QBs report

Riderville.com

TORONTO — It’s that time of year again. Football season is in sight as rookies and quarterbacks report to their respective clubs across the CFL.

There are so many questions at this time of year. What’s in store for Canadian QB Noah Picton as he embarks on Argos camp? Who will replace retired backup quarterbacks Darian Durant and Andrew Buckley? And which first-round picks will be putting on the jersey for the first time?

From position battles to injury updates, CFL.ca has the latest going into training camp in this week’s Checking Down:

Jump to team:

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

BC LIONS

 

– Former Lions defensive back Lin-J Shell played the role of hero off the field last week, taking down a gun-wielding woman at a Florida high school (CBC.ca).

– Travis Lulay answered questions about his knee rehab ahead of training camp, putting on a promising display in front of watching eyes (J.J. Adams, Vancouver Province).

– Is a CFL return in Adam Bighill’s immediate future after being released by the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, and where do the BC Lions fit the picture? (Patrick Johnston, Vancouver Province).

– Joel Figueroa has the left tackle spot locked up, but it appears the Lions are gearing up for heavy competition at right tackle after signing two more internationals (BCLions.com).

– Speaking of the O-line, that’s a unit that coach Dan Dorazio is expecting to be much tougher with the new additions following a forgettable 2017 campaign (BCLions.com).

– With both Odell Willis and Gabriel Knapton added to the fold, the Lions’ defensive line is barely recognizable from the one that took the field a year ago (Matt Baker, BCLions.com).

– Set to enter their 65th season in the league, the Lions are celebrating with a two-for-$65 deal that includes tickets, food and drink (BCLions.com).

EDMONTON ESKIMOS

Colin Kelly is expected to move into Joel Figueroa’s old position at left tackle (CFL.ca)

– The Eskimos have signed international offensive lineman Tommie Draheim to a two-year deal following his release from Ottawa (Esks.com).

– Offensive lineman Simeon Rottier has retired after six seasons with the Eskimos (CFL.ca).

– The Esks needed only six days to sell out the Grey Cup in 2010, a record President and CEO Len Rhodes is expecting to break in a few weeks when tickets go on sale (Morley Scott, CHED).

– A big focus in Eskimos camp will be how the team protects Mike Reilly, as the team looks at the options following Joel Figueroa’s departure (Dave Campbell, CHED).

CALGARY STAMPEDERS

 

– Stamps quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell says his shoulder feels ‘great’ and he’s down 20 pounds from where he was last year (Sportsnet 960).

– Neither Micah Johnson nor Lemar Durant will be on the field when the Stamps begin training camp on Sunday due to continuing injury rehab (Daniel Austin, Calgary Sun).

– Dave Dickenson says he won’t shy away from showing video of last year’s devastating Grey Cup loss to get his team motivated (Eric Francis, Calgary Sun).

– Safety, running back and second-string quarterback are three position battles that stand out going into Stampeders training camp this week (George Johnson, Stampeders.com).

– Months after being released, Marquay McDaniel is in Stamps training camp as a guest coach this week as he tries to kick-start a career in coaching (Eric Francis, Calgary Sun).

SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS

Zach Collaros is likely to be the most-watched player at Riders camp in the coming weeks (Riderville.com)

– While Chris Jones insists it’s an open competition at QB, it appears Zach Collaros has a firm grip on the No. 1 job (Darrell Davis, CJME).

– Can Zach Collaros return to his 2015 form, when he was looking like a mid-season MOP? That’s the question for the Riders this year (Murray McCormick, Regina Leader-Post).

– The Riders’ special teams were integral to success in 2017, and those units appear to be returning mostly intact this season (Ian Hamilton, Riderville.com).

– One of the Riders’ least-talked about breakout stars last year was Denzel Radford, the rookie receiver who ranked fourth in the CFL in special teams tackles (Ian Hamilton, Riderville.com).

WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS

Matt Nichols is the starter in Winnipeg, but there’s no clear-cut backup behind him (Jason Halstead/CFL.ca)

– With Darian Durant out, the focus of Bombers camp becomes the No. 2 quarterback job behind Matt Nichols (Ted Wyman, Winnipeg Sun).

– As the Bombers kick off their rookie camp, Jeff Hamilton looks at five players of interest before veterans report on Sunday (Jeff Hamilton, Winnipeg Free Press).

– One of the biggest players to watch before Sunday’s training camp opens will be second-round pick Rashaun Simonise (Ed Tait, BlueBombers.com).

– Another intriguing player vying for a roster spot this week will be new addition Tharold Simon, a lengthy DB who has 20 NFL games to his name with Seattle and Arizona (Ed Tait, BlueBombers.com).

HAMILTON TIGER-CATS

Mark Chapman could be in Ticats camp after not receiving a contract down south (Jason Halstead/CFL.ca)

– Mathieu Girard has come out of retirement and signed a three-year contract, but how will he fit in this season? (Marshall Ferguson, TSN 1150).

– With Akeem Haynes and Keon Lyn out, what do the Ticats’ pre-camp roster moves mean? (Drew Edwards, 3 Down Nation).

– Ticats first- and second-round picks Mark Chapman and Jackson Bennett could be in rookie camp this week after not receiving offers south of the border (Justin Dunk, 3 Down Nation).

– Simoni Lawrence was in the spotlight for the final episode of The Grind, working out with CFL.ca’s Brodie Lawson in Oakland, Calif. (CFL.ca).

TORONTO ARGONAUTS

Noah Picton is expected to get a legitimate look when he attends Argos camp this week (Jason Halstead/CFL.ca)

– Argos GM Jim Popp spoke highly of recently-added Canadian quarterback Noah Picton, saying the Regina Rams pivot deserves an opportunity (Chris O’Leary, CFL.ca).

– The Argos may be the defending Grey Cup Champions, but Marc Trestman sees things a little differently going into his second season in Toronto (Morgan Campbell, Toronto Star).

– The Argos have added national defensive linemen Hassan Barry and Evan Gill, and international offensive lineman D.J. Park.

– James Franklin has attracted plenty of attention this off-season, but there’s no mistaking who’s starting under centre for the Argos when the season kicks off (Chris O’Leary, CFL.ca).

– Competition for the second-string quarterback job is heating up in Toronto, but Jeff Mathews won’t be a part of it after being released (CFL.ca).

– Argos third-round draft pick Regis Cibasu did not receive a contract offer from the Chicago Bears after attending the team’s mini-camp (Justin Dunk, 3 Down Nation).

OTTAWA REDBLACKS

Mark Korte will be in REDBLACKS camp after signing a contract this week (Jason Halstead/CFL.ca)

– While the offence is picking up where it left off, Henry Burris anticipates there could be some growing pains on the defensive side of the ball in Ottawa (TSN 1200).

– Fourth overall pick Mark Korte and the rest of Ottawa’s 2018 draft class will be in camp after agreeing to contracts on Wednesday (CFL.ca).

– Reigning Hec Crighton winner Ed Ilnicki is in the running for another university honour, named one of four finalists for U SPORTS male athlete of the year (Ken Warren, Ottawa Sun).

MONTREAL ALOUETTES

Josh Freeman’s hope of winning the Als’ starting job starts this Sunday in Montreal (MontrealAlouettes.com)

– Ready to compete for a starting QB job, Josh Freeman talks about his transition to the three-down game in a one-on-one exclusive interview (CFL.ca).

– The Als are not among teams holding rookie camps this week, as rookies and quarterbacks will wait until May 20 to report (Rick Moffat, TSN 690).

– While fans await a decision on retirement from Nik Lewis and Chip Cox, Lewis says his chances of playing are ‘one per cent’ (Herb Zurkowsky, Montreal Gazette).