Canadian Football League

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Grey Cup Champs win final Canadian Football League Pre-Season game

The Toronto Argonauts coughed up the ball eight times Friday night but still somehow managed to close out the CFL pre-season with a win.
The Argonauts stormed back from a 21-point deficit to score a 34-31 road victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Toronto backup quarterback Michael Bishop tossed a 22-yard touchdown strike to Lal Knight with less than two minutes remaining to give the Argos their first lead of the night and secure the win.
After the game, Argos head coach Mike (Pinball) Clemons had high praise for Bishop. But, as expected, Clemons declared Damon Allen as his team's starting quarterback heading into next Saturday's season opener against the B.C. Lions in a rematch of last year's Grey Cup final (CBC Sports, 6:30 p.m. ET).
"Right now, Damon is No. 1 and Michael is a great reliever," said Clemons. "We anticipate trying to get [Bishop] action whenever we can and that may involve even when the game is close and Damon is healthy.
"We need to see [Bishop] grow and you can't watch him grow simply waiting for something to happen to Damon."
The Argos used four quarterbacks in Friday's contest, including Allen, Bishop, Charlie Peterson and Scott Covington.
Allen rushed for one major and found Hakim Hill for a 51-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, while Bishop tossed two second-half touchdowns.
The Ticats also gave four quarterbacks playing time. Veteran Danny McManus started the game and was relieved by Marcus Brady. Ben Sankey, last season's third-stringer, and rookie Jon Beutjer also saw action in the second half.
Tiger-Cats head coach Greg Marshall is leaning toward starting McManus in Hamilton's season opener versus the Montreal Alouettes on Wednesday, but he said Brady remains an option.
"Right now, I think Danny's leading the competition and will start this week," said Marshall. "But Montreal does some different things and Marcus could bring some challenges to their defence."
Both McManus and Brady each tossed one touchdown pass Friday. McManus connected with newcomer Chris Brazzell on a six-yard touchdown in the first, while Brady and Chris Rempel teamed up on a 72-yard score in the third.
Running back Troy Davis also rushed for two touchdowns.
Hamilton is now winless against Toronto over the past 15 contests, including all pre-season, regular season and playoff games The Ticats' last win over the Argos came on Sept. 2, 2002.
The clubs played to a 16-16 draw last weekend in Halifax

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Ottawa expecting small Canadian Football League crowd

Frank Clair Stadium will be less than half full when the Renegades play their one and only pre-season home game tonight.
Team president Lonie Glieberman figures between 10,000-12,000 fans will show up to see Ottawa host the Montreal Alouettes, despite the fact all tickets can be purchased on site for a $15 flat fee that includes a $3 city surcharge.
"We expect a small crowd," Glieberman said for what he referred to as an organizational "walk through" in preparation for the Canada Day home opener against Montreal. "It's early, and our focus mostly is on the season pass sale."
That would be the one-day only (June 25) promotion that will see season tickets available for $99, an offer Glieberman hopes will boost the team's committed support group from 5,000 to at least 9,000.
While the season-ticket count is still low, Glieberman said corporate sponsorship is going well.
Those in attendance tonight, meanwhile, will include majority owner Bernie Glieberman and minority owner Brad Watters, who will be arriving from Detroit and Toronto, respectively.
The primary videoboard will not be set up and operating until the July 1 opener, although the scoreboard and time clock will be working.
Lonie Glieberman will soon release details on a second plan to bring fans back to the stadium. Most bench seats --those not located between the 40 yard lines -- will be available this season for $25 (taxes include) when purchased at Frank Clair Stadium.
While there will be a number of people attending the game tonight with free tickets either obtained through local media outlets or from season-ticket holders, Glieberman said starting July 1 there will "virtually be no papering" of the house.
"Next year," he added, "we're going to simplify things and give fans a good price."

Esks bring in another Canadian Football League QB

Don't read too much into the fact the Edmonton Eskimos brought another quarterback into camp yesterday.
The fact Ricky Ray is limping around on a hyperextended right knee or Jason Maas has yet to put his surgically repaired right shoulder to the test under game conditions isn't cause for alarm, according to head coach Danny Maciocia.
But with CFL clubs required to trim their rosters to 50 men by 10 p.m. last night, the decision to bring in former University of Memphis pivot Danny Wimprine is curious.
"He was on our neg list, he became available, he belongs to us, so we brought him in," said Maciocia in explaining the six-foot-one, 222-pound Wimprine's arrival.
For all the conspiracy theorists who have Ray and Maas on the injured list to start the season and the troika of Khari Jones, Jason Johnson and Wimprine handling the quarterbacking duties, Maciocia has two words.

"No," and an emphatic "No!"
Although it's difficult to connect all the dots or even find a smoking gun, the fact the Esks' brass had been talking to Wimprine for well over a week before they finally bought him a plane ticket could be grist for the theorists' mills.
Nobody brought up the possibility that either Ray or Maas could open the year on the injured list, with the healthier one drawing the starting assignment, Jason Johnson playing backup, Wimprine winding up with the clipboard in the No. 3 spot and Jones being sent packing.
Presumably, Maciocia would have shot that theory down as well.
The 23-year-old Wimprine appeared blissfully unaware of all the potential intrigue his arrival in camp triggered in the minds of the media covering the Esks.
Still, there was no confusion as to where Wimprine is on the depth chart.
"They have a lot of quarterbacks here," he said.
"There was four guys before I got here and I'm the fifth guy to sign."
And there's no flinching on Maciocia's part when it comes to having five quarterbacks in camp.
"It's been crowded with the four other guys and now we've just added another guy," said the head coach, who had been hinting not all five would be among the 50 men on the camp roster released today.
"Even though we happen to find ourselves in the middle of camp, if this would have happened in the middle of the season we would have still brought him in to evaluate him."
Watching his new teammates practise indoors at Concordia University College and getting a grasp on the Eskimos' offensive scheme was plenty for Wimprine.
"I'm just going to try and learn the system as quick as possible and see what I can do," drawled the Louisiana-born Wimprine, a teammate of Esks' newcomer Chris Kelley at Memphis.
"From being here, I've learned a lot the first day.
''I got my playbook (Sunday) night. I'm not really sure about anything else. We'll see.
''In this game you have to have guys that are ready to step in and play at any moment."
"I want to be able to learn everything at a good pace.
''We'll just take it day by day and see how it goes."
Deemed too short and without astrong enough arm for the NFL, Wimprine's career with the Cleveland Browns was short-lived. In order for Wimprine to legally pick up a football and take part in workouts, he has to be under contract.
Maciocia assured the media Wimprine would be signed after getting the once-over and a clean bill of health from the team's medical staff.
"He's a younger version of Danny McManus," said Maciocia of his No. 5 pigskin slinger.
"He's got a quick release and can definitely throw the ball down field.
"I'm just going back to when Danny McManus was at Florida State. He obviously moves better than Dan Mac at Florida State.
"All the yards Chris Kelley accumulated (at Memphis) was because of Wimprine.
''(Wimprine) has got a bright future and he's someone

New Canadian Football League Odds

PiOdds To Win 2005 Grey Cup Edmonton Eskimos 5/2 Montreal Alouettes 5/2 British Columbia Lions 4/1 Toronto Argonauts 13/2 Saskatchewan Roughriders 9/1 Calgary Stampeders 12/1 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 18/1 Ottawa Renegades 25/1 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 48/1 has released new Grey Cup Odds

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Canadian Football League Teams Make Training Camp Cuts

Greg Golden and Derek Combs got caught up in the CFL numbers game Monday.
The rookie defensive backs both had solid efforts in the Toronto Argonauts' 16-16 exhibition tie with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Halifax on Saturday night. But with the Grey Cup champions chock full of experience in the secondary, Golden and Combs - a 2003 NCAA slam-dunk champion - were among 12 players released by the Argos as CFL teams reduced their training camp rosters to 50 players by midnight EDT on Monday.
"Yes, they both had some good moments Saturday night," said Greg Mohns, the Argos' director of player personnel. "But unfortunately, it's a numbers game because you can keep only so many Americans and we've got a lot of veterans back.
"There's no doubt those two guys can play in this league."
CFL teams carry 40 players on their active roster, 18 of which are American. Nineteen must be Canadian, with the remaining three being quarterbacks of any nationality.
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The challenge facing Golden and Combs was cracking an Argos secondary that's returning all five starters and key reserves Mike Crumb and Chris Hardy, who are both Canadian. Also, veteran punt-kickoff returner Bashir Levingston is back taking reps at cornerback after spending time at receiver.
Another factor was the play of rookie import Byron Parker, who is making a serious push for a starting job with Toronto.
Also released were quarterback Tom Denison, the two-time Hec Crighton Trophy winner from Beamsville, Ont., and veteran defensive back Raphaol Ball. Denison's departure wasn't surprising because he came in to reduce the workload of the quarterbacks in camp while the emergence of Parker made Ball expendable.
The Calgary Stampeders released nine players Monday, including defensive back Lawrence Deck, who was an off-season free agent acquisition.
A number of CFL teams were busy making personnel decisions Sunday.
The Ottawa Renegades released 10 players, including veteran long snapper Steve Glenn, defensive lineman Dimitrius Underwood and rookie running back Les Mullings. The club also re-signed quarterback Darnell Kennedy.
Underwood, a former first-round draft pick of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings, was looking to resurrect his football career in Ottawa. The six-foot-five, 295-pound tackle spent time with three NFL teams - Minnesota, the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys - but made more headlines off the field.
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Underwood twice attempted suicide and was arrested three times - including twice in November 2002 on charges of robbing a paraplegic in a wheelchair and punching a policeman. He has also spent time in psychiatric hospitals.
"There was some rust there," Joe Paopao, the Renegades head coach and GM, said of Underwood. "We wanted to take a look at his potential at making an impact and felt we had seen enough that we could look at others on the defensive line."
Mullings was Ottawa's third-round pick and expected to battle for the starting fullback spot. But he lost out to rookie Cory Hathaway and sophomore Gilles Lezi.
Edmonton released four players Sunday, including veteran long-snapper Roger Reinson and rookie kicker Chris Brewer. Brewer's departure means veteran Sean Fleming remains the Eskimos kicker and punter.
Montreal cut five players, including receiver Darnell McDonald, a former 1,000-yard receiver with the Calgary Stampeders. With the off-season departure of slotback Jeremaine Copeland to Calgary and wide receiver Thyron Anderson to the NFL's New Orleans Saints, McDonald was expected to contend for a starting spot.
Winnipeg cut 13 players, including defensive backs Jayson Bray, Stephen Fisher and Markese Fitzgerald, who played for the Bombers last year. Also released was receiver Dimitrius Breedlove, who spent last season with Hamilton.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Saskatchewan finishes Canadian Football League Pre-Season winless

B.C. quarterback Buck Pierce ran five yards for the winning touchdown with 2:13 to play as the Lions defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 37-23 in CFL preseason play yesterday.
Pierce set up his score with a 75-yard bomb to Paris Jackson, who caught five passes for 140 yards.
Eddie Linscomb added an insurance touchdown for the Lions on a one-yard run with 59 seconds to go.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Ottawa adds veteran Canadian Football League Tackle

The Ottawa Renegades bolstered their defensive line Saturday by adding veteran tackle Johnny Scott on Saturday.
Ottawa claimed Scott, a 12-year CFL veteran, off waivers last week from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The six-foot-two, 270-pound tackle signed with the Renegades on Saturday morning before practising with his new team.
Ottawa becomes the fifth CFL team that Scott, 36, has suited up for. He began his pro career with the now defunct Shreveport Pirates in 1994 and has also played for B.C., Toronto and Hamilton.
Scott started 16 games with Hamilton last year, registering four sacks and 33 tackles.
"We know he can play and now he has to get the system down," said Joe Paopao, Ottawa's head coach and general manager.
Ottawa's final pre-season game will be Thursday at home to Montreal. The Renegades defeated the Alouettes 27-16 in exhibition action last week

First Canadian Football League Game In Halifax End In Tie

A scurl of bagpipes and a gentle rolling fog welcomed the CFL to the East Coast Saturday as the Toronto Argonauts renewed their bitter rivalry with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in a pre-season contest seen as a showcase for the league and for Halifax as a potential expansion site.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats Renard Cox, left, tackles Toronto Argonauts Robert Baker in CFL pre-season exhibition action in Halifax on Saturday. (CP/Andrew Vaughan) The defending Grey Cup champion Argos and the Ticats played to a 16-16 tie before a boisterous sellout crowd of over 11,000 at Huskies Stadium.
Although the game lacked the offensive fireworks the league is known for, the fans did get to see some big plays.
The Argo secondary provided the game's first touchdown when defensive back Jordan Younger ran a Danny McManus pass back 41-yards. It capped a less than stellar performance by the veteran Ticat pivot who was intercepted three times in just over a quarter of action.
"I put our offence in a hole and thankfully our defence was playing the way they did, they did an outstanding job," said McManus.
Argo Kicker Noel Prefontaine added two field goals and the defence held the Ticats to just 84 total yards in the first half as the Argos retired to the dressing room with a 13-0 lead.
Toronto appeared to have the contest under control late in the second half, but the Ticats were rescued by third string quarterback Ben Sankey who came off the bench to connect on a 51-yard pass and run play to running back Craig Yeast.
The score cut the deficit to three points with just over six minutes remaining.
Another Sankey-directed drive was capped by a 15-yard field goal from kicker Jamie Boreham, tying the game in the dying seconds.
The tilt dubbed "Touchdown Atlantic" was treated as a night-long party by the fans, many of whom sported the colours of their favourite team while banging thundersticks.
David Moorer of Chester, N.S. proudly wore his Argo jersey along with his sons, Justin, 13 and Colin 10.
"I've been an Argo fan ever since I can remember and I'm bringing up my boys the same way," said Moorer who was originally from Ontario.
He added that he would readily support a CFL franchise in the Nova Scotia capital although he might not know who to cheer for.
"I can't wait, except I'll be torn between who would be my favourite team between the Argos and Halifax," he chuckled.
The same couldn't be said of Kevin Simpson, who travelled to Halifax with his wife Rose from their home in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
"If Halifax were to get a team we'd probably come over a couple of times a year to catch a game, especially if Hamilton was playing," said Simpson a Hamilton native.
Despite not producing a winner, the game was a big hit with Halifax resident Anthony Vincer who said it was mission accomplished for the city.
"I hope that the people have served noticed that we should have a team," he said.
The atmosphere in the stadium wasn't lost on the players either, including veteran Argo defensive back Adrion Smith who picked up player of the game honours for two first half interceptions.
"They did their job," said Smith of the fans.
"Everything went according to plan as far as showcasing this game, the enthusiasm is there," he said.
Both teams were to return home Sunday.
Coaches Mike (Pinball) Clemons and Greg Marshall will have to pare their squads significantly by midnight Monday.