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TORONTO — There’s plenty to take in as eight of nine CFL teams get ready to kick off their season this weekend.
Jeff Hecht has apparently won the starting safety job in Winnipeg, while Chris Matthews and Patrick Neufeld are questionable to play in Week 1.
In Edmonton, off-season DaVaris Daniels and Jovan Santos-Knox have both missed time in practice.
Plus, what’s the fallout in Montreal following the departure of Mike Sherman?
All that and more in a busy season-opening week of Checking Down:
Jump to team:
DeVone Claybrooks brings a different approach than his predecessor Wally Buono (BCLions.com)
– All eyes are on Mike Reilly as he returns to BC, but don’t forget about the offensive linemen up front who are responsible for his well-being (J.J. Adams, Vancouver Province).
– Recently-released Bombers receiver Rashaun Simonise wasn’t out of a job long, promptly signing with his hometown BC Lions along with QB Danny O’Brien (BCLions.com).
– The Lions have claimed offensive lineman Jean-Simon Roy off the Eskimos’ practice roster this week (BCLions.com).
– The Lions had a welcome face in their secondary this week in practice, as safety Anthony Thompson has re-signed with the club (Matt Baker, BCLions.com).
– Led by unique cast of characters including Duron Carter and DeVone Claybrooks, the Lions are letting their individuality define them heading into 2019 (Chris O’Leary, CFL.ca).
Trevor Harris is looking to get off to a quick start in his first season with the Eskimos (Esks.com)
– Linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox appears to be questionable for Week 1 after missing practice time throughout the week (Dave Campbell, CHED).
– The Eskimos have lost offensive lineman Jean-Simon Roy, as the Lions have claimed him off their practice roster (BCLions.com).
– Esks defensive coordinator Phillip Lolley says the Alouettes’ athleticism at the quarterback position will pose a unique challenge to start the season (Gerry Moddejonge, Edmonton Journal).
– The Alouettes have had their distractions this week, but Eskimos head coach Jason Maas says it would be a mistake to take them lightly in the season-opener (Dave Campbell, CHED).
After signing a four-year deal, Bo Levi Mitchell brings much-needed continuity in Calgary (The Canadian Press)
– Fresh off his second career Most Oustanding Player honour, Bo Levi Mitchell has been named No. 1 on TSN’s list of the top 50 CFL players (CFL.ca).
– It appears Nila Kasitati has won the starting right tackle job, as the Stamps go to three Americans on the O-line following the season-ending injury to Brad Erdos (Daniel Austin, Calgary Herald).
– Even with their losses on defence, there’s no reason to doubt the defending Grey Cup Champions in 2019 (Pat Steinberg, CFL.ca).
– After almost being out of football, former Oregon and Philadelphia Eagles receiver Josh Huff made a strong impression in camp, making the team’s active roster (Daniel Austin, Calgary Herald).
– Despite an off-season of change, the Stampeders open the season as the Grey Cup favourites according to odds from LeoVegas (Matthew Cauz, CFL.ca).
– Brandon Smith has always been a leader on the Calgary defence, but now it’s an official title after being named a team captain for the first time in his career (Daniel Austin, Calgary Herald).
– Despite having already made cuts, several Stampeders are still competing for starting jobs, including at least a couple of spots in the secondary (Daniel Austin, Calgary Herald).
Does the Riders’ elite defence make them a contender going into 2019? (Riderville.com)
– After 18 seasons, former Riders pivot Kevin Glenn announced his retirement Wednesday on his 40th birthday (CFL.ca via Rod Pedersen).
– Is there still reason to believe in Riders starting QB Zach Collaros? Matthew Cauz is starting to have his doubts (Matthew Cauz, CFL.ca).
– Is the Riders’ dominant defence enough to make them a Grey Cup contender? It was up for debate on The Waggle this week (CFL.ca).
– Veteran offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte will open the season on the six-game injured list, while Emmanuel Arceneaux and Solomon Elimimian will also miss the Riders’ Week 1 opener (Murray McCormick, Regina Leader-Post).
– In the wake of a strong training camp, global receiver Max Zimmermann could have a chance to make an impact on the Riders’ offence at some point this season (Murray McCormick, Regina Leader-Post).
WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS
Chris Matthews’ status appears to be in doubt for the season’s opening game (BlueBombers.com)
– Despite making positive strides in 2018, the Bombers aren’t making any comparisons between last year’s roster and this year’s as they look to get over the hump (Ed Tait, BlueBombers.com).
– It appears Jeff Hecht has won the Bombers’ starting safety job, filling the shoes of departed star Taylor Loffler (Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun).
– After missing another day of practice on Wednesday, offensive lineman Patrick Neufeld and receiver Chris Matthews could both be game-time decisions for Saturday (Jeff Hamilton, Winnipeg Free Press).
– There’s a bit of a west coast connection in the Bombers’ new-look defence, featuring five former BC Lions heading into the opening week (Ed Tait, BlueBombers.com).
– Third-year defensive back Brandon Alexander didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice, with Marcus Rios taking his place (Darrin Bauming, TSN 1290).
– Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea says that while his team lost some leadership over the off-season, the Bombers will be a faster group in 2019 (Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun).
Sean Thomas-Erlington will have a chance to feature in the Ticats’ backfield (The Canadian Press)
– A born leader, Orlondo Steinauer’s opportunity as a CFL head coach has been a long time coming. He’ll coach his first game on Thursday night (Don Landry, CFL.ca).
– Ticats SAM linebacker Tevin Mitchel had to be carried off the field on Tuesday after suffering an apparent knee injury (Kyle Melo, TSN 1150).
– Looking to build on a breakout 2018 season, Jeremiah Masoli isn’t worried about titles like ‘elite’ or other perceptions of his game (Matthew Scianitti, TSN).
– Ticats running back Cameron Marshall will start the season on the six-game injured list, opening the door for Sean Thomas-Erlington to handle a heavy workload (CFL.ca).
– After dealing with a foot injury in training camp, Luke Tasker says he feels good and is ready to play in Week 1 (Ticats.ca).
Brandon Bridge was on a long list of cuts following Saturday’s final roster deadline (MontrealAlouettes.com)
– Despite already making their cuts, a Week 1 bye means more moves could be on the way for the Argos before their season-opener (Frank Zicarelli, Toronto Sun).
– Canadian quarterback Brandon Bridge leads the list of players to watch out for after a busy round of final cuts across the league (CFL.ca).
Dominique Davis will get the biggest opportunity of his career as the starter in Ottawa (The Canadian Press)
– While many write him off, Dominique Davis has been waiting his entire career for a chance to become a starter, and plans to make the most of it (Marshall Ferguson, CFL.ca).
– REDBLACKS safety Antoine Pruneau says prognosticators aren’t giving the team enough respect going into the new season (Tim Baines, Ottawa Sun).
– Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell says he expects to have defensive back Jonathan Rose in the team’s starting lineup in Week 1 (Tim Baines, Ottawa Sun).
– After an off-season game of quarterback musical chairs, REDBLACKS lineman Alex Mateas believes the team can overcome the departure of Trevor Harris (Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press).
– If practice is any indication, the REDBLACKS will line up with Brad Sinopoli, Dominique Rhymes, RJ Harris, Caleb Holley and Seth Coate at receiver to start in 2019 (Tim Baines, Ottawa Sun).
Antonio Pipkin has been named the Alouettes’ Week 1 starter (MontrealAlouettes.com)
– After being sidelined at practice, Tony Washington is expected to play in the Alouettes’ season-opener Friday (Didier Orméjuste, RDS).
– Departed head coach Mike Sherman says that even with his exit, he expects the Als to make strides this season (Pat Hickey, Montreal Gazette).
– Antonio Pipkin has won the starting quarterback job in Montreal, beating out Jeff Mathews, Matthew Shiltz and Vernon Adams Jr. to start in Week 1 (CFL.ca).
– What does the Alouettes’ last-minute coaching change really mean? Davis Sanchez and Donnovan Bennett weigh in on The Waggle (CFL.ca).
– Alouettes defensive back Tommie Campbell says his team will be extra motivated after mostly being written off (Jim Morris, CFL.ca).