Thursday, June 26, 2008

Are You Ready For Some Football?

The 2008 season is upon us. Gone are the long offseason months, gone are the grueling training camps, gone are the meaningless preseason games, and gone are Hamilton's chances of winning the cup. Okay maybe that last one was a bit premature given that they won't be mathematically eliminated for a number of weeks but realistically, they're more done than Man in the Bush was at our buddy's wedding last weekend.

Now the start of the CFL season on the prairies means 3 things: (1) A dramatic increase in the sale of Pilsner, Wisers and Watermelons (if you have stock in any of these I encourage you to sell somewhere around November), (2) A dramatic decrease in work productivity, particularly on Mondays and Fridays, and (3) the long-awaited end of filler posts from the Rider Prophet as he no longer has to try to justify his off-season existence.

Though the season officially kicks off tonight with Montreal at Hamilton and BC at Calgary, we will have to wait until Saturday to see the Riders in action. We start the season against a familiar foe... the Edmonton Eskimos, who trounced us (good word - trounced) one week ago in preseason action. The results of that game however, are about as meaningful as a late-March game between the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets when you consider that the majority of the players we dressed in that game have either been cut or relegated to back-up status. This time around, the Esks will have to contend with the likes of O'Day, Fantuz, Chick, Cates and Crandell for the first time. By contrast, Edmonton really has nothing more to throw at us that we didn't see last week.

To be fair, Edmonton is a better than last year. But given how far behind the rest of the division they were talent wise, saying Edmonton is a better team is like saying Britney Spears has taken great strides in her parenting skills. Sure it's a positive step, but don't expect her to win Mother of the Year anytime soon.

The key to Edmonton's season will be to get off to a good start. They are relying on 2 QBs who have suffered injuries to their throwing shoulders and I have my doubts about the durability of either of them over an 18 game season. Sure they both look good now... well let me re-phrase that... they are both playing good now but after the wear and tear of a few games look for a drop in performance. Speaking of injuries, Edmonton will be starting the season without defensive star Adam Braidwood, who was placed on the 9 game injured reserve as he recovers from knee surgery.

While I'm not expecting a blow-out, I do expect the Riders to start the season off on the right foot with a win. It will be a great start to the Canada Day long weekend.

Elsewhere in the CFL...
A lot is being made of Stampeder coach John Hufnagel's decision to close practice to the public all week. Speculation is running rampant over what it is exactly that Hufnagel is hiding. Is it trick plays on offense? A new defensive scheme? A touchdown celebration worthy of a Tony Award? The fact that Sandro DeAngeles has been able to bull rush their patchwork quilt of an offensive line and get pressure on the QB? Your guess is as good as mine. Then again, maybe Hufnagel is just doing it to piss off his old buddy Wally Buono.

From Winnipeg comes this week's weirdest story. It seems that Duncan O'Mahony will not play in Friday's opener against the Argos after breaking his toe when he stubbed it on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. See, that's why kickers aren't real athletes. I mean, when discussing what is keeping a player out of a football game, the term "unfortunate bathroom accident" is used about as frequently as "difficult reading mishap" or "tragic salad incident".

That's it for now. See you in the stands on Saturday.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Preseason Week 2

Eskimos 37 - Riders 7

What can you say about Thursday's game that hasn't already been said about Britney Spears? It was painful to listen to and involved a variety of people repeatedly scoring with very little effort. Now, although I don't like seeing a game this lopsided, you do have to put it in perspective. We didn't dress 14 of our regular starters and the ones that did dress didn't play the whole game, whereas Edmonton played their starters for the majority of the game. I won't spend too much time dwelling on the game but here's a few things I did take away:

  • Anton McKenzie has stepped up big time and is ready to be an impact player
  • Congratulations to Carl Berman and Stu Foord who played their way onto the team
  • Congratulations to Chris Getzlaf and Tad Kornegay who played themselves off the roster
  • Apparently we still haven't addressed 2 major concerns from last year... coverage on kicks and covering crossing routes.
  • I warned you about Ricky Ray getting hurt. Although it turned out to be a minor injury, I wish I could have been there to see Maciocia's life flash before his eyes as Ray laid there on the field.
  • Wayne Smith managed to take 2 consecutive penalties despite not even dressing for the game, or even being in the same province for that matter. Come on Wayne you gotta be more disciplined than that. You gotta show some veteranism (as Carm would say).
Although it was a fairly uninspiring performance by the Riders, we need to put it behind us. With out veterans back in the line-up, a stadium full of supporters, this Saturday will be a completely different story.

With the final preseason game out of the way, it was time for the easiest part of any coach's job... the cuts. Now while we weren't able to cut everyone we wanted to we did cut a lot of people.

Bagley you're cut. Bake, Burnett and Verdon you're cut. Bradshaw, Chatelain, Curvey, Dokes, Zelinski and Freeman you're gone. Heard, we liked your hustle... that's why it was so hard to cut you. Congratulations to the rest of you, you made the team! Except Hernandez, Hicks, Kornegay, Lynch, Marshall, Orban, Stratton and Whitley. You guys are cut.

Now everyone give me 5 laps and hit the showers. Oh Griffin, you don't have to... you're cut.

Given that we haven't yet declared our 7 man practice roster, I expect that a few of these guys will be sticking around town. However, competition for those spots got a little more heated with news that 4th overall draft pick Keith Shologan was released by the San Diego Chargers and has been in contact with Eric Tillman about joining the Riders. Now we didn’t expect Shologan to show up in Riderville until sometime in September but it looks like he’ll be here sooner than expected. I can honestly say this is the first time I’ve been excited about a 300 lbs man coming early.

Elsewhere in the CFL...
First overall draft pick Dylan Barker will likely miss the rest of the season after breaking his leg during preseason action. I feel bad for Barker and was looking forward to see him in action this season. Someone should have told him though, if he really didn't want to play for the Ti-cats there are less drastic ways of going about it.

Check back later this week as we cue up the season opener. I'm the Rider
Prophet and those are my sentmonies.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Preseason Week 2: Riders vs. Eskimos

Tonight the Riders are in Edmonton for their second and final preseason game. The big story this week has been Coach Miller's decision to sit a number of starters, most notably Marcus Crandell. Many people are wondering why in the world Miller would do this. Well the answer is simple. Last October, we proved we could beat the Eskimos' starters with our back-ups. Now, Miller wants to one-up that and beat their starters with a roster full of people we will likely cut tomorrow. How's that for a slap in the face? Thing is I still like our chances. Despite resting 3 of our top O-linemen we will still be fielding a better O-line than Edmonton and despite our receiving core missing the likes of Fantuz, Dominguez and Grant we still have some pretty dangerous weapons out there.

The Eskimos, by contrast, have managed to put themselves in a position that
I didn't think was possible. The season hasn't even started yet and they are already in a must win situation. After 2 seasons in the west division basement and a dreadful performance against the Stampeders last week, the fans have just about had it. Maciocia is so desperate for a win that word is he will play his starters for at least 3 quarters. Now there's some quality coaching... let's take guys like Jason Tucker (who has a bad back) and Ricky Ray (who's coming off a serious injury to his throwing shoulder) and expose them to hits and general wear and tear for the better part of a game that means nothing. I hope for Maciocia's sake Ray doesn't end up getting injured in the game. The last thing that guys needs is another entry on his list of reasons he's a terrible coach.

When you think about it, Coach Miller has placed Edmonton in a no-win situation going into next week's season opener here in Regina. If Edmonton wins tonight, that haven't really accomplished much since most of our star players are resting. If Edmonton loses they are screwed. If they can't beat our back-ups and soon-to-be-cuts at home, their chances of winning on the road against our starters are right up there with the chances of Jessica Simpson winning an Oscar.

We should see a very hungry team given how many guys are fighting for roster spots. Also there are a couple of guys who have a little added incentive tonight. You can bet that Omarr Morgan and Steven Jyles will be looking to stick it to there old team. Toss in the fact that Edmonton still has no run game, questionable defense, an O-line with more holes than this year's U.S. Open and no talented receiver not named Tucker. This game could be uglier than a Maas family reunion, though Maciocia's chance of scoring would be dramatically higher at the reunion.

With the game tonight and roster cutdown day Saturday this will certainly be an interesting few days. Though don't worry if one of the players you like ends up not making the final roster, odds are good that you will get to see them play again next Saturday... they'll just be wearing a different shade of green.

One final bit of news for you...
Apparently the Ti-cats are considering implementing TV blackouts for the first time in 5 years. Now, generally fans are opposed to blackouts but in Hamilton's case the fans were actually lobbying for them so they wouldn't be forced to watch another dreadful Ti-cat game.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Morning Sentimonies: Pre-Season

Riders 33 - Lions 13

What a great start to the season! I know it's only preseason but you can't help but be excited about Friday's performance by the Riders. Not only did we defeat the Lions, which always feel good, we also added a few shots for good measure...

There is an unwritten agreement that in the preseason that you play basic defense (i.e. only rush 4) so teams can evaluate their players. Wally Buono, being the honourable man that he is, decided to break that agreement by sending Korey Banks and a few others after Crandell. The Riders responded by sending Tristan Clovis on a safety blitz that leveled the ever fragile Buck Pierce. To be sure Buono got the message they also sent Mike McCullough up the middle twice to lay a hard hit on the QB, the 2nd time the hit may have been a little late (okay replace "may have" with "was definitely" and "a little late" with "so late that I think both the QB and receiver were hit simultaneously" but the important thing was that Wally got the message).

Then at half time we added insult to injury in one of my favourite moments from Friday. As the BC Lions emerged from the locker room for the 2nd half, the first thing they saw was 2 RCMP officers proudly holding up the Grey Cup for all to see. The Grey Cup that BC (though heavily favoured) was denied when they lost to the Riders in the West Final last year. Take a good look Lions because that could have been you. Nothing like pouring a little salt in the wounds.

I was most impressed by our defense who did not give up a major. The only thing they were unable to defend was an errant Stephen Jyles pass, though
I guess I'll forgive them for that. Granted, BC's top 2 offensive weapons Geroy Simon and Joe Smith did not suit up but then again neither did Mo Lloyd, Eddie Davis or James Johnson, 2 of our top defensive weapons and a guy that Mo and ED let hang out with them sometimes. I think our defense will be among the best in the league all season long. I may start referring to them as the CFL's chastity belt because nobody's going to scoring when they are around.

It was a solid effort all around by the Riders but a few players' efforts deserve special mention:
John Chick - Chick came off the end on the very first play and continued to do so all game long. Chick actually stayed in the game longer than I thought he would which made me feel sorry for the guys BC was lining up at tackle. I mean Murphy and Jimenez have trouble stopping this guy, those poor back-ups didn't stand a chance.
Adarius Bowman - That 46 yard TD reception from Durant while in double coverage clearly showcased what we can expect from this guy all season long.
Anton McKenzie - After playing back-up to Reggie Hunt for a couple years, Anton is making the most of his opportunity to succeed the Reaper amassing 7 tackles in one half of football.
Stu Foord - Wow, what a performance! I can't remember the last time that people in Riderville had something positive to say about a guy with that last name.
Neal Hughes - Hughes looked very solid running the ball. I think he should be our back-up RB. And I'm not just saying that because of my severe disliking of Henri Childs. Although if Hughes doesn't work out there, I'm hoping that we bring back Nate Davis to be the back-up RB. Okay, that one was because of my severe dislike for Childs.
Denatay Heard - Going into the game I assumed Heard wouldn't last too long here. He was a late pick-up and hadn't been a stand-out during camp so far. Well that all changed when he hauled in 2 INTs. This means we could actually have some depth at defensive back this year - something we were in dire need of last year.

While most players were trying to play their way onto the team, a few seemed to be doing their best to play their way off. Most notably...
Quentin Griffin - How embarrassing it must be for a former NFL starter to be completely upstaged by a local junior player. Such was the case for Griffin who fumbled and dropped a wide-open pass. Griffin, you're cut!
Davon Fowlkes - Fowlkes was having a less than stellar camp already and pretty much sealed his fate by running backwards for 7 yards while returning a punt. Fowlkes, oh you better believe you're cut!

Elsewhere in the CFL...
The Bombers released Troy Westwood over the weekend following their preseason game where he missed his only FG attempt. After the 2001 Grey Cup, Troy swore that he wouldn't cut his hair until he helped the Bombers win a Grey Cup. Looks like if he's to be a man of his word, Westwood now has himself in a bit of a predicament - but don't worry Troy, there's always male pattern baldness.

With not much time to spare before the season starts, the Bombers are moving quickly to find a replacement kicker. They have apparently already been in contact with Duncan O'Mahony. Last time they signed him it didn't turn out so well, but they are optimistic that this time Duncan will make it to Canad Inns Stadium, mainly because the flight from Calgary to Winnipeg is a direct flight with no layovers.

The Stampeders released 3 players including offensive lineman Jermese Jones. Now I'll be the first to admit that Jermese isn't the best lineman in the league but I have to question the logic of this move given the current status of the Stamps O-line. I mean when you're having trouble fielding 5 guys to begin with, you'd think you'd avoid releasing the token few able ones you have. There are a couple of competing theories to explain things. The first is that maybe Jermese really was that bad. The other is that Hufnagel was worried that his tackles were going to be significantly better than his guards and center, thus making the inside guys look even worse than they actually are. It's all about perception.

That's it for now, check back later this week as we cue up the final preseason game against the Eskimos.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Let The Season Begin

The 2008 CFL season officially kicks off tonight when Toronto visits Montreal and Winnipeg visits Hamilton in preseason action.

More importantly though, tomorrow night the Riders season officially kicks off with the first home game of the year against the BC Lions. Not only will it be our first chance to see this year’s team in action, the game will also feature the raising of the 2007 Grey Cup banner. The last time such an event occurred in Saskatchewan was 1990. My how things have changed. Back then Bush was president, Harrison Ford was playing Indiana Jones, Chris Chelios was playing in the NHL. Actually… come to think of it, we’re a pair of parachute pants and a New Kids On the Block tape away from being in a time warp. History lesson aside, I can’t wait for the game. It’ll be a good chance to see what some of the new guys can do in a game situation. Not to mention a good excuse to get drunk in public (as if you need an excuse).

A number of players will be sitting out the game. Some to rest minor injuries (Davis, Washington, Abou-Mechrek, Lloyd, Bradshaw and Tate), some due to more serious injuries (Dominguez – out until Aug 1, O’Day – out for 2 weeks and McKoy – likely headed for the 9-game injured list) and some due to just plain sucking (Johnson and Childs). Okay… to be fair Johnson and Childs are nursing injuries and by all accounts having good training camps but I’m biased and like to take cheap shots whenever I can… deal with it.

Another player that won’t be suiting up tomorrow is Kyle Mitchell but not because of injury. Mitchell was released this week. The move surprised many given that Mitchell has been on the team for the past 2 seasons. When asked about why Mitchell was released despite a couple very strong performances last year include a blocked kick and TD, Eric Tillman responded “No, no, you’re thinking of Naseem Mitchell.”

It appears that Corey Holmes may be on the verge of retirement. Mr. Everything has applied to become a high school football coach in the U.S. and if he gets the job he will officially retire from football. I wish Corey the best of luck… which apparently he is going to need given that the team he wants to coach failed to win a game last year and gave up 4 times as many points as it scored. Well, at least now Corey’s experience in Hamilton won’t go completely to waste. It should more than prepare him to deal with his new team.

Well that’s it for now, see you tomorrow night.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Official 2008 Prophecies

'Twas six months past Grey Cup and the season was looming;
The Riders were champs yet some fans were still fuming.
We'd won the big game but many seemed not to care
They were busy hurling hate at the GM with pointy hair.
Ken Miller was running the players through drills
While he and his assistants evaluated skills,
When all of a sudden, who should appear?
Tis' I the Rider Prophet with my thoughts on this year:

Eric's been busy and his moves have been doubted,
He's moved household names for those less highly touted.
The surprising trades have left the fans in pure shock,
And just for good measure, he let Kent Austin walk.
"Gone Holmes, gone Hunt, gone Murphy and Perry,
Gone Jones, gone Ronta and especially gone Kerry!
Thanks for your efforts but it's onwards and up,
No room to be complacent, we want another cup!"

On day one of the season Marcus Crandell takes the reigns,
Quite different from Joseph - less moves, but more brains.
The offense features an embarrassment of riches,
Crandell and Co. will make other defenses their... well you know.
The receivers are stellar, a talented bunch indeed
Matt, Flick, Andy and Bowman (here thanks to the weed).
Wes Cates returns to lead the rushing attack,
Offensive weapons we certainly do not lack.
Our offensive line is stacked to say the least
And watch for Glenn January - he'll turn out be a beast.

Our defense will be younger, stronger and quick
Lead by a monster by the name of John Chick.
Reuniting Davis and Morgan will make our secondary strong
And hopefully, James Johnson will step up and prove me wrong.
Our linebackers remain solid despite losing Hunt
The best D in the league; we'll force many a punt.
Our special teams' blocking and coverage surely improves
Fueled by Weston Dressler's lightning fast moves.

Our team looks quite different but I see no reason to fret
We've got talent across the board so don't count us out yet.
Tillman's shipped off some vets but 'tis no reason to moan
Have faith in their replacements despite being unknown.
For 1 or 2 of these "no-names" I will guarantee
By the end of the season will be considered marquee.

We will start 4 and 2 to the surprise of many
We shant miss a beat under the direction of Coach Kenny.
There will surely be some bumps we will have to fight through
And the bandwagon will temporarily empty as if right on cue.
In the end we will finish 11-7 - good for second
Proving that were still a force to be reckoned.
In the West Semi we'll play the Stamps in the snow
Burris will choke (but claim it's not 4 in a row).

Then it's off to BC on our way to defending,
But this year the Lions ruin the storybook ending.
For the date at the dome ends our quest to repeat
It will be a good season but end bittersweet
We won't have a Grey Cup to help the dynasty be built,
But at least it's not all bad - neither will Milt.
If my predictions seem dismal, you have no need to fear -
For you must keep in mind, I was way off last year!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Around the CFL

Rider training camp is progressing well and other than the annual parade of hamstring injuries there’s not a lot to report at this point. So I figured I would take this opportunity to check in on training camps around the league.

BC – Word is Roosevelt Keiser is impressing the coaches with his performance at camp. I think this is great news. Not because I like the Lions or wish them any kind of success… in fact I hate the Lions and just thinking about them makes me want to punch an ostrich (don’t ask). I like this news though because it should mean that when we traded Keiser we got an equally talented player in Amariah Farrow in return. Kudos to Tillman because prying a talented player away form Wally Buono is about as easy as doing calculus with an abacus.

Edmonton – The frustration over not making the playoffs in 2 years apparently came to boiling point at Esks training camp this week when a few players came to fisticuffs (good word) during practice. Torrin Tucker squared off against Justin Cooper while Patrick Kabongo made the genius decision to get into it with Adam Braidwood (who is a trained MMA fighter). Apparently the argument started over coaching… Kabongo could be heard yellling “I hate Maciocia more!” while Braidwood insisted “No I do!”

Calgary – The Stampeders sorry excuse for an offensive line took another hit this week when it was revealed that 3rd overall draft pick Jesse Newman suffered a knee injury that will likely keep him out for the rest of training camp. This latest set back for their O-line led Coach Hufnagel to make a few adjustments. For the remainder of camp Henry Burris will not be participating in passing drills and will instead focus his time on running sprints to prepare him for the season and back-up Dave Dickenson is currently being fitted for a full body bubble-wrap suit just in case he is called into action.

Toronto – Speaking of O-line concerns… Did you realize that the Argos have managed to lose 4 Offensive Tackles this offseason? Not only was it 4 tackles it was 4 very talented tackles. They traded Glen January and Steve Morley to us, lost Jeff Keeping to free agency and Mike Pearson retired. As peculiar as this roster management strategy is, it does explain a couple things. First, their interest in Kerry Joseph… a team with no tackles had better have a mobile QB. Second, the re-signing of Bishop… as good as Joseph is, with no tackles to protect him it’s only a matter of time before he succumbs to injury.

Winnipeg – Jovon Johnson is having a very good camp for the Bombers. This comes as no surprise to me as talent was never this issue with Jovon, it was attitude. Let’s just hope Johnson makes as big an impact with the Bombers as other Rider castoffs such as Nate Davis, Dominique Dorsey, Matt O’Meara and Davin Bush did last season.

Montreal – The Als have been busy making roster moves releasing Brashir Levingston and Chijioke Onyenegecha (who has also somehow already managed to be cut from Stamps training camp too, guess his football skills aren’t as awesome as his name). They also signed receiver Jason Armstead today. Armstead’s career has been dropping at a meteoric pace. In just 2 short years, he managed to go from being a highly valued receiver taken 3rd overall in a dispersal draft by an eventual Grey Cup winning team to being offered 2 pay cuts and being traded to and cut from the worst team in the league. Armstead astutely decided that the only way to continue his downward spiral is to join the sinking ship that is the Alouettes.

Also, word is that Tay Cody has yet to report to camp and they haven’t been able to get a hold of him. My guess is that Cody was looking at the Alouettes roster and suddenly realized that he had signed with an aging team, with a rookie head coach and a GM who’s a prick and decided he was better off back in Hamilton.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Training Camp Is Here

What a great day Sunday was. The sun was shining, fans lining the seats at Mosaic Stadium and the Riders practicing as a team for the first time this year. Yes indeed football is back! Which is good because I was about 1 more football-less week away from taking up knitting and changing my name to the Afghan Prophet (on second thought that may have lead to some confusion).

I was down at Mosaic Friday for the last day Rookie camp. A few things worth mentioning about rookie camp…
  • Believe the hype about Weston Dressler. This guy is faster than a greased Scotsman.
  • The hype about Adarius Bowman also appears to be well deserved, he’s not a flashy player but he runs great routes and catches very well. Odds are good he will make the team.
  • Brock Stratton is built like a truck, solid head to toe. I can’t wait to see him hit someone full bore.
  • Quentin Jones and EJ Whitley looked good at defensive back and should provide some good competition at main camp. Though for some reason Whitley refuses to let his jersey go below his nipples and I find that annoying.
When all was said and done 6 guys didn’t make it out of rookie camp. That list includes Ryan Ackerman, Jeremy Burnett, Princeton Sheppard, Kevin Garrett (who was traded to Winnipeg for a neg list player) and Nuvraj Bassi (who is huge for the record). I actually expect Bassi to stick around and rejoin the team once his leg heals up. He needs to work on his technique and conditioning but his power is pretty awesome (as is his beard). The final rookie camp victim was TJ Stancil (not sure how a vet manages to get cut following rookie camp). Stancil’s departure definitely leaves a hole on our roster… the good thing is to fill that hole all we need to do is find someone who can play 6 games over the next 3 years. I liked Stancil but he was hurt at a rate that rivaled Nathan Hoffart. In the salary cap era an oft injured player isn’t a good investment regardless of their talent level.

Main camp started yesterday and man was it nice to see familiar faces like Cates, Fantuz and Schultz back on the field. There will be some interesting position battles to watch at camp: who will replace Perry and Hunt? Who will win out at cornerback? Will Frenette be able to fend off Kevin Scott at long snapper? Will my prayers finally be answered and Henri Childs be cut? One noteworthy change that’s already been made is Gene Makowsky has been moved from tackle to guard on the offensive line. I think this is a great move. Makowsky is still among the best in league but he isn’t getting any younger or faster (unlike some of the defensive ends around the league). Fred Childress made the same move and it extended his career by a few years, hopefully the same thing will happen to Makowsky. This is a good time to make the move given our current depth at offensive line. Glen January (who is a force by all accounts) will likely take Gene-o’s spot and it will be between Wayne Smith and Steve Morley for the other tackle spot. Toss in O’Day, Abou-Mecherek and Szarka and Marcus Crandell will have more protection than a case of condoms.

Now here’s some news from around the league…

Unlike our offensive line which is only getting better, the Stampeder’s offensive line is quickly going down the tubes. Already gone from last year’s offensive line are John Comiskey (traded to Edmonton) and Jay McNeil (retired). Now you can add to that list Bobby Singh who was cut along with JR Ruffin after failing a physical. And the list of people being brought in as replacements wouldn’t exactly put a QB at ease. So far they’ve brought in Jermese Jones (whose pass blocking is suspect at best), Antonio Hall (who didn’t play football last year) and 2 rookie draft picks. John Hufnagel better hope Burris can be successful throwing on the run because the o-line won’t be stopping a whole lot this year and Dickenson will likely refuse to play behind that line. Seriously, if BC’s line (who was among the league’s best) couldn’t protect him what chance does this group of cast offs and rookies have?

The other big news this week came out of Toronto. The Argos announced that they signed kicker Mike Vanderjagt to a contract. Vanderjagt started his career here in Saskatchewan, won 2 Grey Cups with the Argos and then went to the NFL where he became the most accurate kicker in the NFL (with the exception of his last season when he was pretty brutal). I find this move a bit odd. Not because the Argos are signing a washed up NFLer who was once good… that’s just business as usual. The price tag is what intrigues me. Last year the Bombers were interested in him but he said he wanted $200K a season or no deal. So I wonder how much he agreed to play for. They must have been able to agree on a deal that was just right… or in Vanderjagt’s case wide right. Regardless, I’m not too worried. Anyone who Peyton Manning refers to as an “idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off” shouldn’t be cause for concern.

To make room for Vanderjagt the Argos traded Noel Prefontaine to the Eskimos, who appear to be setting records for most kickers signed and released in a single offseason. In return Edmonton sent a 1st round pick in ’09 and a conditional pick in 2010. What is it with the Eskimos and using their first round picks to acquire kickers? I mean Prefontaine is good but a 1st rounder is a steep price to pay (particularly when you’re likely to finish last, we’re talking a 1st or 2nd overall pick here). Danny Macciocia has apparently decided on the only strategy for draft picks that is worse than Brendan Taman’s. As a result of acquiring Prefontaine, the Esks promptly cut Duncan O’Mahony who didn’t seem to mind since odds are he wasn’t going to be able to find his way to Edmonton anyway.