I had every intention of typing this up last night to ensure it was ready to go for Monday morning like usual. Unfortunately I succumbed to the post-Easter feast coma and those plans went out the window. I’m only human. The good news is that there isn’t really any pressing Rider news to discuss so I’m sure a few hours delay in reading the meandering thoughts of a dude who wears a robe in public on news that is no longer current will not ruin many people’s day.
My topic of the day is the signing of Matt Walter and what it could mean for our roster this upcoming season (spoiler alert: I have no clue).
I was somewhat surprised to see Calgary cut ties with Walter. He’s been a dependable contributor for them for years and they will still be starting a Canadian tailback. That said, Walter was clearly never viewed as starting material in Calgary as every time Cornish went down long term, it was an import RB who got the starting reps. Also, it’s been widely speculated that the Stamps are targeting RB Mercer Timmins in the upcoming CFL draft. Timmins is young, cheaper and has a higher ceiling than Walter. But one man’s trash is another man’s treasure… at least occasionally. Most of the time on man’s trash is also another man’s trash (especially when it’s dumped over the fence as opposed to being place in the trash bin).
While the Stamps have the Canadian depth to part with a guy like Walter, we do not. So (as we have been with signings like Hazime and Andrew Jones) we wisely brought in Walter to help boost our depth. Solid add. That’s the part I get. What I don’t get is what our plan is at running back. Pretty much every other position I have a good sense of who the favourites are to win a starting role and who is likely to be the depth guys. Running Back? Not so much. I honestly have no clue what the plan is there and Walter only adds another confusing complication.
When Allen got released, I assumed RB would be open competition in camp and the starter and back would be new guys. Then things changed when we signed Kendial Lawrence. He’s a Corey Holmes-type jack of all trades so I thought well we will still have an open competition for starter and Lawrence will rotate in at RB much like he did in Edmonton. Back-up RB solved. Then we signed Curtis Steele, who is a high effort player, decent RB and good special teamer. What he is not is an every down back. So then I’m wondering, are we going RB by committee with Steele and Lawrence? Is Steele just a depth guy and we still hope to find a starter among the new recruits?
So I was already confused (which admittedly doesn’t take much) before Walter was added to the mix. Normally its nice have a Cdn RB like Walter because you then don’t have to use one of your precious designated import spots on a back-up RB. But we already have Lawrence so unless we use Walter more like a fullback (ala Neal Hughes) I’m not sure how he will fit in.
I do still think that starting RB will be an open competition when camp opens. But it’s clear that Jones wants a ton of options at that position beyond just assuming one of the new guys will be a stud. My best guess at how this all pans out is that a new guy (Cobb, Houston, Young, Cyrus) wins the starter role, we use Lawrence as the back-up/utility guy on offense/kick returner, Walter will be used primarily as a FB and Steele will be a depth guy only (if he makes it at all). But then again don’t put much stock in that as its only really a wild-ass guess from a guy who has already admitted to you that he is very confused.
A couple other random notes:
· While I’m not that surprised to see Keith Price go (disappointed but not surprised), the fact that he chose BC seems like a very questionable decision. With Jennings and Lulay already entrenched Price is essentially competing for 3rd stringer. From an opportunity perspective I would think there had to be better options out there (us being one of them).
· One name to keep an eye on is recently released Cdn DB Chris Rwabukamba. He played safety for Chris Jones in 2014. I could see him being added to the mix with Newman.
Xavier Fulton (Ssk) – Workout with Jacksonville
CFL Ins and Outs
In: OL Spencer Wilson, OL Shane Bergman (contract extension)
In: QB Keith Price, DB Colin Lockett, DB Loucheiz Purifoy (free agent signing)
Out: DB Chris Rwabukamba (released)
In: WR Tevin Reese, WR Solomon Patton, DL Jordan Stanton, DB Johnny Patrick (free agent signing)
Out: DL Bryant Turner, WR Clarence Denmark (released)
In: DL Omari Jones, DL Donovan Dale (free agent signing)