Good morrow Rider fans. Rider Prophet here covering what has certainly been an eventful week leading up to our weekend clash with Hamilton.
There was some roster shuffling going on this week and it started with a trade on Monday. The Riders traded Ron Flemons back to the Argos along with a 5th round pick in 2011 for receiver TJ Acree, a 3rd round pick in 2011 and the neg rights to DE Brian Smith. The loss of DJ Flick coupled with the fact that Flemons had so far failed to impress (or even crack the game day roster) led to this deal. Acree is an okay receiver, though maybe his recent performance was more a product of being stuck in an Eskimos offense (where no one looked good) than his skill level. I don't mind this trade as it gives us some added depth at receiver and moving up in the draft is always a good thing (even if the draft is 3 years away). You know Tillman has already scouted high school players for that draft and realized that the guy he has his eye on simply won't be available by the 5th round. The average GM has to predict how well a potential draft pick's skills will translate into professional success, but Eric Tillman's life is even more complicated since he also has to predict growth spurts.
It was also announced that CB Arabin Justin was released. I was disappointed to hear this. Justin was easily our best DB last year behind Eddie Davis and his blanket coverage was a thing of beauty. This year though, the return of Omarr Morgan reduced Justin to a back-up who still earned a starter's salary. With the emergence of newcomers Denatay Heard and James Patrick, who are both very capable and far cheaper, it became hard to justify keeping Justin around. I hate to see him go and wish him the best of luck (unless he catches on with another CFL team in which case I hope he plays like crap). But really, did you ever think you'd see the day where Omarr Morgan was a cheaper alternative at CB?
Now on to this week's game where the 2-0 Riders look to remain undefeated against the 1-1 Ti-cats...
Of course all the talk all week has been about our QB situation. With Crandell on the limp, questions have abounded about our QBs. Man, how quickly people's tunes change. Coming into the season all the talk was about how Crandell is old and we need to give our young guys a shot. Now, 2 weeks later, Crandell is hurt and the same people say our young guys aren't good enough and we need to trade for another veteran QB. My question is why? Crandell is only supposed to be out 1-2 more weeks and it would take a newly acquired QB at least that long to start learning our playbook. I'll admit Durant looked less then spectacular last week, but he did enough to win. I guarantee with a full week of practice under his belt, Durant will do just fine under centre.
Our possible need for a new QB has not gone unnoticed as out of work QBs from around the league have been making their availability known. The recently retired Damon Allen has said he would be interested if the Riders gave him a call (No thanks Damon. Please return to playing bingo and drinking prune juice or whatever it is you senior citizens do). Also sources say there was a message from former Rider Rocky Butler on Eric Tillman's answering machine that said "Hey Mr. Tillman, I hear you may be in need of a QB. Just wanted to let you know I'm ready to go if you need me this week in Hamilton. Believe me, if there's one thing I can do, it's beat the Ti-cats."
Even though we are starting a young QB I still like our chances against the Ti-cats. Granted, Hamilton actually looked like a legitimate team last week for the first time in ages but that performance must be taken with a grain of salt. The Argo offense is absolutely brutal and their defense seemed to be doing their best impression of a treadmill, letting Hamilton run all over them.
While Hamilton does have a pretty solid run game with Lumsden, Smith and Printers, I don't see them having anywhere near the success they had last week when matched up against the best run D in the league. That will force them to rely on their passing game which features such receiving threats as Pat Woodcock and Jason French (who's ears are probably still ringing form the hit he took last week). Given the recent play of our D and the offensive weapons we have I see no reason that the Riders won't move to 3-0.
Riders by 14.
Elsewhere in the CFL...
The BC Lions have released TJ Stancil due to a lingering knee injury. This news surprised me. Not the fact that Stancil has a lingering injury, he's been that way for years. The surprising thing was the fact that he was released. Usually players with perennial injuries in BC end up playing QB.
Lastly, the QB controversy in Toronto took an interesting turn last night when the Argos placed Michael Bishop on waivers. Odds are they are just trying to see if anyone else is interested in him in the hopes of working out a trade but one way or another this likely spells the end of Bishops' time in Toronto. The damage has already been done though. The Argos are a team divided. Rich Stubler and Arland Bruce are big Bishop supporters while Pinball and a few of the other receivers have sided with Joseph. The defense is somewhere in the middle and pretty much hates all of the offense because they suck so much.