My second game preview in a week. I haven’t put this much effort in since I was in my 20s and had nothing better to do. Don’t get used to the effort level though, once we get through this week its back my normal “just enough to get by self”.
You may recognize a few more names on the roster this time around. Pretty much every starter except Moncrief and Leonard will play. Starters should get the first half. It should also be a pretty good match-up as BC will be playing their starters as well. Its still preseason so the results are about as meaningful as the possibility of relationship that the strippers fake to get more tips… so I hear.
There are really two things that I am keenly interested in… surprisingly neither is the QB. And while I am sure saying this will revoke my Saskatchewan citizenship but neither is the back-up QB. I care about 2 things: O-line and secondary.
O-line is pretty obvious. They were utterly atrocious last season and any hopes of us coming near the Grey Cup game here in November hinges on them being at least moderately useful. This should be an adequate first test. BC’s line is still not very good. They did add Steven Richardson and Woody Barron but neither will be playing. So if our O-line wins the battle of the trenches don’t go planning the parade route. But if they struggle then there is real reason for concern because they will have to face much better D-lines this season.
Secondary is not so much based on worry but just the fact that we lost both starting HBs in Gainey and Purifoy over the offseason. So while I have some faith in the individual players, I want to see how they perform as a group. Clark and Milligan seem to be the lead candidates at HB though Webb played well in the spot last season so I’m sure he fits in somehow. For reasons I don't quite understand, Blace Brown is listed as a starting CB. He was awful last season after a decent showing as a rookie in 2019.
Beyond that here are some other things to watch:
- RB competition still to be settled. Another strong performance could clinch it for Hickson but I really think even if he doesn’t win the starting role, Morrow will see a lot of action (Corey Holmes type role). Cooper likely needs a big game to unseat the top 2. He likely gets kept around as a backup. Pope would need the actual pope to get him 7 simultaneous miracles to climb back up the depth chart.
- There is a wide open American receiver spot. Moore is out for a while yet and McRoberts is gone (not that anyone really thought he was getting that spot). Aristilde, Prall, Johnson, Jones and Weah have all had flashes. One of them needs to seize the role. Prall is listed with the starters which I find surprising.
- I do want to see how Cody is reading the field as well as if he can rekindle the connection with Duke and a fully healthy Shaq.
- Defensively Marino and Lanier look to be the guys in the middle of the line so hoping to see a good push from them. Also want to see if Lloyd Christmas can make an impact again.
- At linebacker I’m honestly most curious about the back-ups. Sankey, Dean and Moncrief will be fine but what do we have behind them. I love Gary Johnson but he’s shockingly not healthy currently (he’s a injury prone as he is talented). Harris and Jones have had their moments. Be nice to see Allen or Bringi become a reliable special teamer/back-up LB.
- Also kinda want to see what we have in terms of depth at safety. Edem is good but if he goes down then what. Lokombo is the only name that doesn’t scare me and he hasn’t played a pro down yet and seems to be more earmarked for corner.
Covered it all. One thing for me, since cut downs coming quickly. With McRoberts now out of the picture which was no surprise to me, the Gary Johnson saga. Granted he has had the bad luck of trying to break a LB group both years which was uber talented. But this is year 3. At some point he's gotta unseat an older guy like a Larry Dean or get a lot of starting play time. He strikes me as another McRoberts. He IS only 25 & Dean is likely a one year guy now but with Teitz around????? Johnson is a more compact MLB Dean clone. With the rule changes I tend to agree with Chris Jones that the WIL position will be filled with SAM body types. That's evolving. So, I'll say what I said earlier about McRoberts - I wouldn't be surprised to see Johnson go.
Gary Johnson I see a bit different than McRoberts. When he is actually on the field there is no doubt that Johnson belongs. He's got the talent. His issue is he can't stay healthy. Last season he'd play a game then miss multiple then play another and get hurt. But at some point talent or not if a guy can't stay on the field how much longer do you invest in him?
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