Canadian Football League

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Ray hurt as teams battle to Canadian Football League tie

The Edmonton Eskimos hope it won't be long before star quarterback Ricky Ray recovers from the hyper-extended right knee he suffered early in the second quarter of the Edmonton Eskimos opening pre-season game Friday.
Leading 7-0 on Edmonton's opening drive of the second quarter, the 25-year-old Ray rolled out to the right and completed a pass to fullback Mathieu Bertrand before getting hit by Winnipeg defensive end Marcus Jones and falling awkwardly to the turf, grabbing at his right knee.
''It was a lot of pain when it happened,'' said Ray, who signed a multiyear contract with the Eskimos May 16. ''It scared me there for a little bit.''
Ray, who said he knew something was wrong the instant he planted his leg to throw, remained on the turf at Commonwealth Stadium for several minutes before slowly limping off to the field to receive medical attention on Edmonton's bench. A short time later he limped to the dressing-room.
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''I just have some soreness in the back of the knee,'' said Ray after the game with a ice wrap covering the injury.
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Eskimos coach Danny Maciocia said Ray will likely not play in the Eskimos final pre-season game Thursday in Winnipeg, but expects he will be ready for the regular season.
''Everybody is just one hit away,'' said Maciocia. ''But we know that Ricky will be fine.''
Ray, who was only scheduled to play the first half, had earlier completed five straight passes to set up Sean Fleming's 17-yard field goal on the Eskimos opening drive of the game. He re-signed with Edmonton after being released from the New York Jets on May 5 following one season in the NFL.
Ray left Edmonton following the 2003 season after leading the Eskimos to the Grey Cup, and left the Jets disappointed after being told he would compete for a backup job.
Khari Jones replaced Ray with newcomer Jason Johnson backing up at quarterback. The Eskimos also kept former starter Jason Maas on the bench except to hold for field goals as he recovers from shoulder surgery on his throwing arm.
Following the injury to Ray Edmonton promptly surrendered 10 second quarter points but scored a late touchdown to lead 13-10 at the half.
The game ended tied 20-20 on a Sean Fleming 30-yard field goal with no time remaining in the fourth.

Stamps change up Canadian Football League QB's

Jason Gesser is an injury away from becoming the Calgary Stampeders' starting quarterback after being officially promoted yesterday to the No. 2 job.
Based on his steady work in Tuesday's opening pre-season game and a disappointing outing by fellow backup Darnell Kennedy, Gesser has squeezed into the co-pilot's seat while Kennedy has been jettisoned.
While the starting role is securely in the hands of prized free agent Henry Burris, Gesser has made a dramatic impression in the opening 12 days of camp and the lone pre-season game, said head coach Tom Higgins.
"Jason, from the very moment he stepped onto the scene here, has skyrocketed," said Higgins, listing Gesser's leadership, vision and an ability to get the ball to the receiver as reasons for the promotion.
"Maybe Darnell didn't stay with him or stayed where he was and now we feel we had to pull the trigger because, in our minds, Jason is now our No. 2 quarterback. I still think somebody could give Darnell a shot."
Newcomer Ben Dougherty of Florida A&M, who still hasn't had time to unpack his suitcase, is No. 3.
Entering the fourth quarter against Saskatchewan for his first CFL look, Gesser completed five of eight passes, all to Nik Lewis, for 59 yards in four possessions.
Gesser said his play is "getting there."
"I've still got a lot to learn and need a lot more experience," said the impressive Washington State product, whose final pre-season test comes Thursday in Vancouver.
"I can slow the game down a lot more for myself but improving comes one step at a time and that was just one step."
Although Gesser fumbled the ball on his first possession, he never committed a turnover despite being drenched by a driving rain that hampered the contest.
His opening possession was his only scoring drive of the night, capped by a 30-yard Sandro DeAngelis field goal.
Kennedy struggled, completing five of 12 passes for 28 yards while also tossing an interception in the red zone.
While protecting the football was a crucial component of Gesser's first test, collecting first downs and finding the scoreboard also bodes well for the 27-year-old.
"You've got to make plays at the same time," said Gesser. "It's not just a matter of handing the ball off or protecting the ball and being real secure. At the same time, you have to move the chains and put points on the board."

Friday, June 10, 2005

Canadian Football League Odds oddsmakers have selected EdmontonEskimos and Montreal Alouettes as the favourites to meet in the CanadianFootball League's 93rd Grey Cup game. Bowmans, the worldwide leader in online gaming for more than twenty yearsand proud sponsor of the CFL, today released its odds on the upcoming CFLseason, making Edmonton the 3/2 pick to win the Grey Cup Championship, to beheld Sunday, November 27 in Vancouver. Montreal, whom Edmonton defeated 34-20in the 2003 Championship, is listed as second choice at 5/2. The finalistsfrom 2004, BC Lions and Champion Toronto Argonauts, are third and fourthchoices at 3-1 and 6-1 respectively. "Edmonton and Montreal have been the strongest teams during the regularseason for the past several years," said Scott Kaminsky, Lines Manager "Both of them stumbled at home in the divisional finals lastseason. We have set the odds thinking that won't happen again." Rounding out the rest of the CFL, Bowmans lists Saskatchewan at 10-1 towin the Grey Cup, with Calgary at 15-1; Hamilton at 18-1; Ottawa at 20-1 andWinnipeg trailing the pack at 30-1.

Ottawa kicks it's way to Canadian Football League Pre-Season victory

Good thing the Ottawa Renegades scored a victory last night.
There would have been few warm fuzzies on the bus-ride home had the Renegades not defeated the Montreal Alouettes 27-16 in a CFL exhibition game before a sold-out Percival Molson Stadium. Especially not in general manager/head coach Joe Paopao's seat.
Matt Kellett, the kicker/punter whom the Renegades acquired from Montreal on draft day, took himself out of the lineup earlier this week, still suffering from weak vision out of his right eye. The problem resurfaced two days into training camp, and threatens to create a serious kicking problem in Ottawa for the third time in four seasons.
In fact, you could've considered this a crisis had punter Pat Fleming not made good on two of three field-goal attempts last night, providing some hope that he can temporarily replace Kellett should it come to that.
Still, Paopao said he expected to sign an American kicker by this evening and said he would consider Ottawa native Mark Irvin, who was recently released by the Calgary Stampeders.
Kellett is suffering from double vision, a milder reoccurrence of the problem he had last season. He passed an Alouettes-issued medical examination in late March, and will undergo more tests in the coming weeks.
"I wish I knew. It's an ongoing thing. Hopefully, they'll get to the bottom of it. I'm not stressed yet," Kellett said after the game. "Right now, it's not necessary (to kick with it)."
Paopao was clearly irked that Kellett proclaimed himself unfit to play after practising all week. "That's why it was a surprise to me," Paopao said. "(Doctors) can't seem to solve it, but obviously it's real."
Kellett was brought to Montreal in case Fleming was hurt during the game, but wasn't needed after the latter made good on attempts from 38 and 41 yards. Fleming, who has been practising placekicking all offseason, missed a 47-yard field goal and struggled on kick-offs. He also made six special-teams tackles.
"I think I showed today that I have the ability to do both jobs. I worked hard this winter and it showed," Fleming said. "I've had six (kicking repetitions) in camp, so I can only get better."
Paopao issued a pre-game statement which suggested the move to Fleming was calculated. He was upset to learn post-game that word about Kellett's decision had leaked.
The Renegades didn't qualify the trade to protect against Kellett's mysterious condition, a mistake that is embarrassing to management. In exchange for Kellett, the Alouettes used the fifth pick to select Gatineau native Matthieux Proulx, a safety from the University of Laval.
The trade went down minutes before the draft, without any previous discussions between the Renegades and Alouettes.
Last night, Alouettes Jim Popp said his information at the time was that Kellett was healthy.
"We never pulled anything. Matt Kellett will tell you he was perfectly healthy then," Popp said.
As for the game, the Renegades forced six turnovers, including four interceptions, and took a 20-10 lead in the third-quarter after first-string quarterback Kerry Joseph entered the contest.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

First Pre-Season Canadian Football League Game

After nailing a pair of clutch kicks, Sandro DeAngelis was quick to give his teammates credit.
Saskatchewan Roughriders Dwayne Lefall (right) sacks Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris. (CP/Jeff McIntosh) The rookie kicker converted three of three field goal attempts, including a pair in the fourth quarter, to lead the Calgary Stampeders to an 18-14 exhibition win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Tuesday night in the CFL exhibition opener for both teams. "The conditions were awfully tough," said the Niagara Falls, Ont., native, referring to the rainy weather and soaked field conditions.
"I have to give a ton of credit to the guys up front and (holder) Darnell Kennedy because without them those kicks aren't going through. Hat's off to them."
Calgary coach Tom Higgins credited snapper Randy Chevrier and Kennedy for teeing the ball up nicely for DeAngelis.
"For (Kennedy) just to catch the football and put it on the tee was miraculous," said Higgins, who added that he has faith in his rookie kicker's abilities. "Everybody now knows how strong his leg is. It's just a matter of making sure we continue to work on his accuracy."
On Calgary's opening drive, former Saskatchewan quarterback Henry Burris tossed a lateral pass to Jermaine Copeland who promptly threw the ball downfield to a wide open Nik Lewis. The 2004 CFL rookie of the year then ran untouched into the end zone for a 74-yard touchdown to put Calgary up 7-0.
"We always want to put a little razzle dazzle and fun in our offence," Higgins said. "We're always going to have a trick or two."
DeAngelis booted an 18-yard field goal as time expired in the first quarter before the Stamps built up a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter when Saskatchewan kicker Paul McCallum conceded a safety in the end zone.
The Roughriders finally scored at 10:10 of the second quarter when Chris Szarka scampered in from three yards to narrow the deficit to 12-7.
The Riders took a 14-12 lead late in the third quarter when quarterback Rocky Butler capped off an eight-play, 60-yard drive with a one-yard plunge into the end zone.
Calgary regained the lead and hung on for the victory in the fourth when DeAngelis kicked field goals of 38 and 29 yards.
Notes: Several thousand fans at McMahon Stadium braved the rainy conditions to take in the game. The official attendance wasn't announced. a Burris played the entire first half and completed five of 16 passes for 70 yards. Darnell Kennedy played the third quarter and started the fourth before Jason Gesser came in to wrap things up. a Saskatchewan played four QBs, with Marcus Crandell starting the first quarter. The former Stampeder pivot gave way to Nealon Greene midway through the opening quarter before getting the ball back again five minutes into the third. Crandell completed 14 of 23 passes for 156 yards, while Green went 1-for-3 for just 11 yards. Butler played the third quarter and started the fourth before Dennis Gile finished the game.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Canadian Football League Teams reducing training camp rosters

Derek Medler, who was trying to resurrect his football career with the Toronto Argonauts, was among six players released by the Canadian Football League club yesterday. Also let go were linebackers Jeffrey Bonelli and James McGill, defensive back Michael Broussard and receivers Marvin Minnis and Petie Scarborough, whose older half-brother is John Avery, the Argos' starting tailback.
Medler, 23, led the Ontario University Athletics conference with 1,420 yards rushing for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in 2003, a university record and the second best total in OUA history at the time. Medler was chosen as an all-Canada star that season and appeared destined to be a high pick in the CFL draft. But cocaine use sent him into a downward spiral that included his arrest for being an accessory after the fact to attempted murder and eventually an 18-month conditional sentence.
Medler pleaded guilty in October to harbouring three suspects in the attempted murder case, putting his CFL aspirations in jeopardy. He was bypassed in the Canadian university draft this year and signed with Toronto as a free agent.
Scarborough, 23, worked for a construction company last year after leaving Mars Hill College, a U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II school, in 2003. The Argos signed Scarborough after Avery gave his brother a strong recommendation.
Minnis, 27, was in his second stint with Toronto, originally signing with the club in 2004. The former Florida State star was a third-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2001 and spent two seasons there before being released. Minnis also was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins.
The Montreal Alouettes released seven players, including rookie kicker Mike Ray, their fourth-round pick in the Canadian draft this year from McMaster University.
Montreal dealt veteran kicker-punter Matt Kellett to Ottawa in the off-season. That left Ray, American kicker-punter Damon Duval, veteran Canadian receiver Dave Stala and sixth-round draft pick Adam Eckert (both of whom can punt) to handle field goals, punts and kickoffs with the Alouettes.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Canadian Football League team looking to add to D-Line

KEMPTVILLE - After one week of training camp, talk among Ottawa Renegades players and coaches has revolved around the defensive line.
Almost everyone agrees the group has been hugely upgraded over the offseason and that some excruciating decisions await come the first round of roster cuts on June 13. Even so, general manager/head coach Joe Paopao said yesterday the club was considering adding defensive tackle Johnny Scott, who was released by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Wednesday.
"You can never have enough (defensive linemen)," Paopao said. "We still like him, but we would have to let someone go."
The Renegades are at the maximum number of players allowed in camp (68) but had considered trading for Scott last month. Hamilton was shopping the four-time all-star, but wanted either a negotiation-list quarterback or the rights to Canadian defensive lineman Israel Idonije, who is with the NFL's Chicago Bears, which Paopao deemed too rich.
Scott, an 11-year veteran, began his career with the Glieberman-owned and Forrest Gregg-coached Shreveport Pirates. Paopao said he intended to talk with Gregg, the Renegades' new executive vice-president of football operations, about Scott, who helped the Ticats lead the league in sacks last year.