After enduring 206 football-less days, a sexual harassment case, the loss of 2 all-star linebackers, a Saskatchewan-only recruitment strategy, the elation at getting rid of James Johnson, Michael Bishop and Henri Childs, the sadness at losing Kitwana Jones, the most complicated trade in history and endless stadium debate… training camp officially kicks off tomorrow when rookies report.
I can’t wait for the players to hit the field and to see what our new recruits can do. The window of opportunity for the new guys is narrow as between 4 and 7 of them won’t make it to main camp on the weekend. A few of the names I will be watching closely over the next few days include Todd Blythe, Bam Childress, Justin Beaver and of course the Rider Prophet endorsed Gabe Nyenhuis.
One familiar face who’ll be making an appearance at training camp this year is Marcus Crandell. He has been invited to be a guest coach. One familiar face we won’t be seeing at training camp is Matt Dominguez. He will not be invited to training camp due to lingering concerns over the durability of his knees. While the Riders haven’t completely shut the door on Dominguez, at this point, the only way I see Dominguez being back on the Riders this season, is if all our receivers fall victim to broken fibulas and we begin scouring the globe looking for any receiver we can get our hands on. But I mean really… what are the odds of that?
One last bit of Rider news for you. Andrew Greene has decided to retire as a Roughrider. This is a fitting end for the 4 time all-star and former Outstanding Lineman.
Elsewhere in the league, just days prior to the opening of training camp, Mike Vanderjerk has asked to be released by the Argos. While losing the league’s 6th most accurate kicker last season is hardly a debilitating loss for the Argos, it is pretty prickish to wait this long to make a decision. In the end though I think it serves Toronto right. They had a very good kicker in Noel Prefontaine but decided to ship him off the second an NFL reject became available. I could maybe understand this fascination with rejected NFLers if there was a documented case of this strategy actually paying off for the Argos. It’s kinda like watching a moron repeatedly burn himself on a stove. “Ouch that hurt! Better try again to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. Ouch! No not a fluke. But what if I try touching it this way. Ouch! Well what if I try my other hand … (and so on and so forth).
CFL Ins and Outs
In: WR Jeremy Gilchrist (free agent signing)
Gilchrist’s signing is a strong indication that we plan on fielding a kick return specialist this season, which is a good idea… provided someone decides to actually block for them.
In: DB Doug Goldsby, WR Javid James, WR Kevin Marion, LB Billy Parker, DB Tim Sims, DB Jamaine Winborne (free agent signing)
These people will all likely be cut by then end of the week so I won’t bother putting any effort in here.
In: DL Rodney Allen, DL Melik Brown, RB Martell Mallett, RB Charles Pierre, DB Darren Toney, LS David Mills (free agent signing)
*see explanation for Montreal
In: QB Kinsmon Lancaster, WR William Judson Jr, K Eddie Johnson (free agent signing)
Out: DB Jermaine Mays (cut)
For those wondering if Kinsmon is of any relation to the infamous Ron Lancaster, let’s just say unless Ron secretly suffered from the same skin condition as Michael Jackson, probably not.
In: DL Demonte' Bolden, DL Justin Hickman, DL Dexter Manley II, DB Chris Davis, DB Olukayode Oredugba, RB DeAndre' Cobb, WR Aaron Fairooz, WR Drisan James, WR Marquay McDaniel, QB Chase Clement (free agent signing)
Wow I do not envy the broadcaster who has to pronounce Olukayode Oredugba’s name should he make the team. Then again maybe it’s not a huge concern given that there are only 5 people left in Hamilton who care enough to listen to a Ti-Cats broadcast.
Out: DL Marcus Parker (cut)
Mike Labinjo will be the only returning DL from last season… a big question mark on an otherwise solid team.
In: DB Brandent Englemon, DB Tyler Everett, DB Therrian Fontenont, OL Adam Rogers, DL Xzavie Jackson, LB Tumbo Abanikanda (free agent signing)
Xzavie and Tumbo?! Why are all the good names on other teams?
In: Siddeeq Shabazz, Adarius Bowman, Fred Perry (contract extension), DB Jasper Johnson, QB Darrell Hackney, DB Jonathan Hefney, DL Chase Ortiz (free agent signing)
James Johnson is now in tough in Winnipeg. Not only will he have trouble proving that he is good enough to remain with the Bombers. Now with the presence of Jasper and Jovon he will have trouble even establishing himself as the 2nd best J Johnson on their roster. It will be a test to evaluate the DBs in Winnipeg this year, but something tells me it’s not going to be the first time that Mike Kelly has handled 3 Johnsons.