July 13, 2023

Steinberg: Team standouts at the quarter mark of ’23

Daniel Crump/

We are already almost a quarter of the way through the 2023 season. We’ve seen some great individual performances to this point, which is why we’re highlighting one from each team through the first five weeks.

Prediction Time: writers’ Week 6 picks
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MOP Watch: Who is Costabile leaning towards?
» Player Grades Presented By PFF: Who was the best of Week 5?
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Toronto Argonauts | AJ Ouellette | running back

After emerging as Toronto’s feature back last year following Andrew Harris’ pectoral injury, Ouellette has solidified that spot in 2023. Ouellette is averaging 15 carries and just over 70 rushing yards per game and leads the league with four rushing touchdowns. One of the breakout stars of the 109th Grey Cup has picked up right where he left off with his bruising brand of running.

BC Lions | Mathieu Betts | defensive end

Vernon Adams Jr., Dominique Rhymes, and Boseko Lokombo have all had great starts as the Lions sit 4-1 and on top of the West Division. But it’s what we’ve seen from Betts that stands out most. Plain and simple, the 2019 third overall selection has arrived. Betts leads the CFL with nine sacks, has at least one sack in each of the five games he’s played and has seven in his last three outings. BC leads the league with 21 total sacks and Betts has been their driving force.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers | Brady Oliveira | running back

Oliveira took over as Winnipeg’s No. 1 tailback last season after Harris’ departure and made the most of his opportunity. The local product finished 2022 with 1,001 rushing yards (good for third overall) and four touchdowns. But Oliveira looks that much more confident in year two at top of the depth chart. He leads the CFL with 400 rushing yards in five games, which puts him on pace for over 1,400 this season.

Saskatchewan Roughriders | Larry Dean | linebacker

After missing all of 2021 with an Achilles injury sustained in training camp, it was so great to see Dean return at a high level last year. Playing mostly at WILL linebacker, Dean finished 2022 with 101 defensive tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions. Now back at his natural position in the middle, he looks even more comfortable in his second year with the Riders. Averaging eight defensive tackles per game, Dean is on pace for 144 over the course of the year.


Montreal Alouettes | Austin Mack | receiver

For a guy who wasn’t even on a pro roster at the beginning of May, Mack has made a rather seamless transition to the Canadian game. A standout at Ohio State, Mack leads the league with 388 receiving yards in just four games and boasts a league-leading five receptions of 30 or more yards. Mack and Kaion Julien-Grant have formed the most prolific receiver duo in the league so far and it’s been fun to watch.

Calgary Stampeders | Micah Awe | linebacker

Talk about making a good early impression on a new team. Awe was one of Calgary’s key free agent signings in February and has lived up to the billing. The MIKE linebacker sits on top of the CFL with a staggering 37 defensive tackles in four games, an average of more than nine per contest. With a sack, interception and forced fumble, Awe has been one of the CFL’s most impactful players early in 2023.

Ottawa REDBLACKS | Douglas Coleman | defensive back

In his second CFL season, Coleman won Ottawa’s starting SAM linebacker job out of camp and hasn’t looked back since. With 17 tackles, three sacks, an interception, and a pair of pass knockdowns, Coleman has been all over the field and integral for the REDBLACKS despite their up and down start. He’s been a lot of fun to watch, too. Coleman is a former high school receiver and shows off that speed regularly to go along with impressive strength and power.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats | Jameer Thurman | linebacker

Hamilton’s first win of the season in Week 5 saw Thurman lead the way with nine tackles and a pair of sacks in what was his most impactful outing this year. And honestly, Hamilton’s big money free agent signing has been pretty much as advertised so far. Thurman has registered 26 defensive tackles in four outings and I still think there’s more to come. With his speed and versatility, I’m curious to see how creative defensive coordinator Mark Washington gets with Thurman as the season goes on.

Edmonton Elks: Nyles Morgan, linebacker

We know it’s been a tough start to 2023 for the Elks, but the play of Morgan has been a noticeable bright spot. Morgan only appeared in six games last season due to injury but looked great when healthy. Now in his third CFL campaign, Morgan has registered 31 defensive tackles and an interception in five games. If Edmonton is to turn its fortunes around this season, Morgan is going to be a big reason why.

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