May 12, 2024

Ferguson: 9 training camp battles to watch

Training camp is a time to rejoice. It’s a reminder that warmer weather is close or already present while signalling the start of a new season and new iconic CFL memories. That is unless you get cut in short order and don’t have a chance to stick around long enough to see your pro football dreams come to life.

Training camps are full of battles and worthy adversaries, waking up each day for a couple weeks aiming to master their limited reps and cash in with a spot on the game day roster while the loser could be demoted, or worse, be sent packing.

Here is a positional training camp battle for each team that has my attention this year.

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OK, so it’s not a true win-or-go-home kind of training camp battle, but my interest here is in what shape the running back room takes. Taquan Mizzell should be the lead man coming out but William Stanback is still firing on all cylinders and looking to prove himself after being ousted from Montreal.

There are currently three other names in the hunt, but to me it’s a question of whether Mizzell claims this outright, or if Stanback has a resurgence and his play demands time in the backfield with old Alouettes mate QB Vernon Adams Jr.


Top CFL Draft pick Joel Dublanko has to be the man in the middle, right. RIGHT?!

Where does that push the other puzzle pieces on the Elks roster? Namely this pertains to Nyles Morgan, who last season had 107 tackles and four sacks to his name. If he slides to the weak side for Dublanko to call middle a full-time hole, what other players get pushed around in Edmonton?


Christy Nkanu was their target and Calgary traded up to get him at eighth overall in the CFL Draft this year. Does he start right away or will some more seasoned vets hold off his charge? Names to watch here include Kyle Saxelid, Rodeem Brown, Bryce Bell and Zack Williams.



Shawn Bane Jr. is a lock after one of the more under-appreciated performances last year, given the quarterback circumstances of Saskatchewan. Kian Schaffer-Baker, Brayden Lenius and Samuel Emilus should all play plenty, but who takes that fifth receiver role?

Could four Canadians start with Bane Jr.? My gut says no, with Jerreth Sterns taking the gig. But we’ll see how camp shakes out before assuming anyone in Riderville as a starter.


Jackson Jeffcoat has moved on, but Willie Jefferson is very much back. That calls into question two things for me.

Who will take Jeffcoat’s old spot, with Celestin Haba being the frontrunner after some fill-in duty last year at the same location.
Can anybody who lines up in that spot have the same impact as Jeffcoat to help Willie get his? Or will Jefferson see more attention without his now former running mate?


It’s a very real overhaul in the Hammer at linebacker. Simoni Lawrence retired, Jameer Thurman left in free agency and Jordan Williams called it quits before camp opened after Hamilton traded for his rights from Toronto in the off-season.

Who lines up where, why and when? Arguably the second-most interesting positional group across the entire league behind only Ottawa’s quarterbacks.


Can Jack Cassar slide into a bigger role in the Argos’ linebacking corps? (Kevin Sousa/

Williams was traded to Hamilton, but Wynton McManis and Jonathan Jones are still there. The question for me now becomes how are the likes of Jack Cassar, Fraser Sopik, Daniel Kwamou, Brian Harelimana and more deployed come Game 1?


Good training camp battles have layers, and none is more layered than the REDBLACKS’ pivot position. Jeremiah Masoli returns off injury — again — while Dru Brown is the new hope in town after being acquired from Winnipeg.

Oh yeah, there’s some guy named Dustin Crum who damn near led a REDBLACKS resurgence with his legs as the catalyst last season. How this shakes out will define Ottawa’s season. It should be tremendous camp theatre.


The Alouettes are fairly settled across the board protecting Cody Fajardo, although they have to do a much better job of it this season. Jamar McGloster and Nick Callender are the LIKELY tackles, but who lines up where? Can either of them be pushed for ratio savings elsewhere? Camp will shake out these answers fairly quickly.

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