June 6, 2024

Steinberg: 10 things to catch up on ahead of Week 1


We’d like to officially welcome you to the 2024 CFL season!

After a long off-season, about a month of training camp, and three weeks of preseason action, we’ve got a lot to get caught up on. And honestly, with so much that’s happened since the last game of 2023, we’ve all probably missed a few things.

So, in that vein, here’s our best shot to get you up to speed on everything you might have missed since…

» Prediction Time: Who did Pat pick to win this week?
» Costabile: Four storylines to watch in Week 1
» 24 people that will impact the 2024 season
 AMSOIL Power Rankings: Als stand tall at kickoff
 Everything you need to know ahead of the 2024 season
» Buy tickets for the 2024 CFL season here
» Subscribe to the CFL’s newsletter for exclusive offers and league updates



For a third straight season, the league’s premier event delivered with a game for the ages. Appearing in their fourth straight Grey Cup, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers held 17-14 and 24-21 fourth quarter leads on the underdog Montreal Alouettes. And then facing that three-point deficit, the Als took over at their own 27 yard line with 1:55 on the clock.

What followed was a seven-play drive led by quarterback Cody Fajardo that included back-to-back huge passes to Cole Spieker and Tyson Philpot, the latter of which put Montreal in the end zone with 13 seconds to go. On the strength of that drive, and a gutsy effort all night, the Als closed out a 28-24 victory and enter the season as defending Grey Cup champions.


After two straight non-playoff campaigns, Saskatchewan grabbed the largest coaching headlines this winter when they fired head coach Craig Dickenson after four seasons. Replacing him in Regina is Corey Mace, who’s been on a rocket ship trajectory since his playing career ended less than a decade ago.

Our other head coaching change happened in Hamilton where president of football operations Orlondo Steinauer stepped away and installed Scott Milanovich as his replacement. Milanovich spent last season with the Tiger-Cats first as a senior consultant and then offensive coordinator, but this is his first season as a CFL head coach since his time with Toronto ended in 2016.

In Winnipeg, Jordan Younger has replaced Richie Hall as defensive coordinator with the latter moving into a defensive assistant role with the team. And, with Mace no longer in the fold, Toronto has opted to move Will Fields and Kevin Eiben into defensive co-coordinator roles for the coming season.



A good number of our CFL.ca top 30 list of free agents ended up on different teams when signing season opened in February. The Riders led the way by signing three of those players in tailback AJ Ouellette (#7), linebacker Jameer Thurman (#25), and offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick (#26).

Other notable players on that list signing elsewhere include defensive backs Adarius Pickett (Ottawa), Demerio Houston (Calgary), and Jamal Peters (Hamilton). Quarterback Dru Brown was acquired by the REDBLACKS and signed shortly thereafter, while defending Most Outstanding Special Teams Player Javon Leake joined the Edmonton Elks.


Mathieu Betts’s record setting campaign didn’t go unnoticed south of the border. After leading the league with 18 sacks, a new record for a National, the 2023 Most Outstanding Defensive Player signed with the NFL’s Detroit Lions just prior to the opening of free agency.

And the defending champs have said goodbye to a pair of important players, too. After racking up 1,154 yards in his first CFL season, receiver Austin Mack signed a reserve/future deal with the Atlanta Falcons. About two weeks later, defensive lineman Lwal Uguak, a 2023 first-round pick, did the same with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.



After three seasons with Winnipeg, aforementioned Brown was the unquestioned top quarterback commodity entering free agency. And, in desperate need of solidifying the position, the REDBLACKS pounced by first trading for Brown’s rights and then quickly signing him to a two-year extension. He joins a crowded quarterback room that also includes Jeremiah Masoli and 2023 rookie standout Dustin Crum.

After one season south of the border, McLeod Bethel-Thompson is back in the CFL after signing a lucrative one-year deal with the Elks. Bethel-Thompson starts the season on top of Edmonton’s depth chart ahead of Tre Ford, last year’s second half sensation.

A little further down the depth chart, Chris Streveler returns to the league as Zach Collaros’s backup in Winnipeg. Veteran Matt Shiltz signed with Calgary after a couple of seasons in Hamilton and provides a nice second option to Jake Maier. And after starting double digit games with the Riders last year, Jake Dolegala joined the BC Lions.


Touchdown Atlantic has been an absolute hit out east over the last few seasons, so it stands to reason this year’s Touchdown Pacific will have the same type of success. As part of OK Tire Labour Day Weekend, the BC Lions will host the Ottawa REDBLACKS on August 31 at Royal Athletic Park just outside of Victoria. It should be a blast.


We all know injuries are a part of the game, but that didn’t change how tough it was to hear the news about Malik Henry’s season ending injury. After having last season cut short with an Achilles injury, the Stampeders receiver sustained a patellar tendon injury in late May.

Also of note is Winnipeg linebacker Adam Bighill; he starts the season on the six-game injured list as he continues to recover from partially tearing his calf muscle in last year’s West Division Final.


It’s always cool to see players returning to where it all began. That’s exactly what we saw with Dominique Rhymes in Ottawa. After being released in BC, the electric receiver signed back where his CFL career began and where he had his first breakout season in 2019.

And then there’s Christian Covington. After nine years in the NFL, most notably with the Houston Texans, the defensive end joins a CFL team for the first time and it’s his hometown Lions. A born and raised Vancouver product, 30-year-old Covington was a first team All-Canadian and Academic All-Canadian while playing high school ball at Vancouver College.


Longtime Bombers defensive lineman Jackson Jeffcoat leads the list of notable names who announced their retirement over the winter. Jeffcoat hangs them up after seven seasons and two Grey Cups with Winnipeg; he spent the last five seasons as one half of the Texas Connection with fellow defensive end Willie Jefferson.

Other names calling it a career following 2023 include future Hall of Fame running back Andrew Harris, linebacker and former first overall selection Jordan Williams, and a pair of Hamilton mainstays in defensive lineman Ted Laurent and offensive lineman Chris Van Zeyl.



So what games, dates, and weekends should you have circled on your calendar in 2024?

Well, let’s start with Week 1. The season launches with a Grey Cup rematch between Winnipeg and Montreal on a Thursday night before we get a long awaited return the following day. Our first Friday Night Football of 2024 sees Hamilton quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell visit his old stomping grounds at McMahon Stadium to take on the Stampeders. The Ticats didn’t play in Calgary last season.

The Bombers and Lions has turned into the West Division’s must-see rivalry and they meet for the first of three times in Week 3. Winnipeg then plays archrival Saskatchewan for the first time in Week 7 and then not again until OK Tire Labour Day Weekend.

Speaking of which, that weekend also includes our two traditional Labour Day Classic games, starting with Toronto visiting Hamilton before Calgary hosts Edmonton later in the afternoon. In fact, the Labour Day Battle of Alberta is the first of three meetings between the Stamps and Elks. They’ll play the following weekend in Edmonton before wrapping up the season series in October.

The Eastern and Western Semi-Finals will be played on Saturday, November 2 before the division finals on November 9. The 111th Grey Cup will be played at BC Place in Vancouver, with The Jonas Brothers at halftime, on Sunday, November 17.

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