Maybe its because we've only had two and a half weeks of spring but its hard to believe that training camps will open across the league this weekend ushering in the start of a new season. Our months of football-less suffering we soon be over (unless of course you cheer for Winnipeg, in which case your football-less suffering is likely to continue for many more months).
In a move that is a negative for Regina residents (but a positive for the employers who expect productivity out of them), training camp will be held in Saskatoon. I get that this is Saskatchewan's team and its certainly a good thing to help build that mentality... but I'm petty and so starved for some football that I've taken to recreating plays with Prophet Jr's little people toys. I unfortunately will have to hold out until the preseason game.
The Riders were busy last week making last minute changes to the training camp roster. WR Lyle Leong Jr. was traded to Hamilton for DL Jermaine McElveen. On the surface this seems like a steal, since McElveen had 6 sacks last season and 8 three seasons ago with the Als. He's a versatile veteran DL who will be a welcome addition to our roster. One of two things likely led to his low price. Either this was a salary dump by Hamilton or they simply had no intent to use him this year and decicded to get something rather than simply cutting him. My bet is the salary one since McElveen's 6 sacks tied him for the team lead last season. Regardless we will gladly take him.
As a result of this move, and our general offseason spending spree, the Riders had to make some cuts and clear some cap space. The victims were Tristan Jackson and Jay Alford. Jackson was as surprising as when Ricky Martin came out of the closet. I liked him, especially when he was one the only people who actually seemed to give a shit during that train wreck of a 2011 season but he simply could no longer justify his hefty contract. While he was a surprisingly decent DB he wasn't good enough to be a fulltime starter (especially with our offseason acquisitions) and while he was a good returner he wasn't worth what we were paying him. It was a numbers things and he came out on the wrong end. I'm sure he'll catch on somewhere else (the Als have already shown interest).
Alford was a surprise to me. He came into camp late last season and I wrote him off at the time (and was justified when he was sent home to get in better shape) but he came back and turned into a solid player in the interior DL. He even took over longsnapping (and I honestly can't think of another import snapper). I get the sense Alford wasn't all that motivated to return. I think he saw the CFL as a springboard back into the NFL and while it looked briefly like that would occur it hasn't yet. While Alford is a loss, with guys like Mick Williams and the addition of McElveen, I don't think it is a massive one. It's actually surprising how unconcerned I am about almost completely replacing our DL from last season.
Buckle your seats, prime your liver and fire up your home defibrillators... the 2013 season is about the start.