HERVEY GETS NEW DEAL

April 23rd, 2015

(Edmonton) – Eskimos President and CEO Len Rhodes announces the contract extension of General Manager Ed Hervey.

The extension sees Hervey also named Vice President of Football Operations and keeps him with the Green and Gold through the 2017 season.

“Preserving effective leadership is integral to the health and success of this club,” says Rhodes. “Every decision Ed makes is with the goal of long-term success on-field and making a positive impact in the community. He has quickly developed as a leader among his peers.”

“Naming Ed a vice president reflects the executive role he plays within the organization at a senior management level.”

Hervey enters his 17th season with the Eskimos and his third as General Manager after his hire on Dec. 10, 2012.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to build a team this community can be proud of,” says Hervey. “A total group effort, I appreciate the coaches, staff and players who work tirelessly to transform our football department and establish a solid foundation for sustained success.”

“I’m very excited about what lies ahead for our organization. I thank Len and the Board of Directors for entrusting me with the responsibility of leading Eskimos football.”

On Nov. 27, 2013, Hervey made his first Head Coach hire, naming Chris Jones as the 20th Head Coach of the Edmonton Eskimos.

Last season, the club set a franchise record for single-season turnaround with a 12-6 record, won the West Semi-Final at home and made an appearance in the West Final.

Hervey continues to build a competitive roster with an emphasis on depth, character, toughness, athleticism and winning.

Also under Hervey’s leadership, the scouting department expanded to ensure widespread coverage in all regions of the United States and Canada, increasing the club’s ability to identify and recruit top level talent.

Hervey established the Annual Amateur Football Summit, now in its third year, with the goal of Long-Term Athlete Development. The event brings together stakeholders from Northern Alberta to review rules and regulations, player skill development, coaching development, officiating and the continued advancement of football at all levels.

A two-time Grey Cup champion and former CFL All-Star, Hervey was the team’s West Coast Scout from 2007 to 2008 and Head Scout from 2009 to 2012.

Before joining the front office, he played eight seasons (1999-2006) as an Eskimos wide receiver. The former University of Southern California football and track star stood out for his world-class speed, toughness and leadership – on and off the field. In 118 CFL games, he caught 476 passes for 6,715 yards and 43 touchdowns. He played in eight post-season games and three Grey Cup games, winning in 2003 and 2005. In 2006, Hervey received the David Boone Memorial Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the community.

“Ed is a true Eskimo through and through. He lives in Edmonton and is more than a resident,” says Rhodes. “He is deeply committed to the club and our community work.”

ELGAARD INDUCTED IN GRIDIRON GREATS HALL OF FAME

April 22nd, 2015

Former Saskatchewan Roughrider star Ray Elgaard will be one of this year’s inductees into the Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame.

Elgaard was one of the top receivers in the CFL for fourteen seasons (1983-1996) with the Western ‘Riders. He played for the University of Utah prior to being selected by Saskatchewan in the second round of the 1983 Draft.

Elgaard was a CFL all-star four times and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian on three occasions. He was a member of the ‘Riders 1989 Grey Cup championship team. Elgaard finished his career with 830 receptions for 13,198 yards and 78 touchdowns. He had eight 1,000 yard receiving seasons.

He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

“When you are named to something like this – even 25 years later – people still remember you and what you did,” says Elgaard. “Any time you get recognition in that regard it’s a good thing.”

The 55 year-old Edmonton native is now a Financial Consultant for LPL Financial in Las Vegas, Nevada, specializing as a financial advisor to Canadian professional athletes. He keeps active playing hockey four times a week and is the founder of the Canadian Club of Las Vegas. “It’s a great social networking thing for me,” says Elgaard. “I brought a little bit of Canada south of the border.”

“We are excited to induct Ray into our Hall of Fame,” says Shannon Jordan, Executive Director, Gridiron Greats. “He exemplifies all of the characteristics we look for in our honorees. We appreciate all of the support the Canadian Football League has given us over the years and look forward to an incredible night.”

“The Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame was started about nine years ago by a number of former players including Gale Sayers, Mike Ditka and others,” adds Mark Lewis, Director, Detroit Chapter of the Hall.

All profits from the event go to the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund to support former players who have fallen on hard times. The Fund is supported through numerous donations and fundraising activities throughout the year including special events, auctions of memorabilia, autograph events, corporate and public donation drives, sponsorships and special Super Bowl related events.

Elgaard will join former CFL’ers Angelo Mosca, George Reed, Hugh Campbell and Matt Dunigan, as well as fellow Canadian and former NFL player Eddie Murray in the Hall. He will be part of this year’s selection group that will include former NFL and AFL stars Jim McMahon, Raymond Chester, Abner Haynes and Dick Vermeil (coach). Former CFL and NFL star Fred Biletnikoff will also be inducted.

Elgaard was nominated for the honour by the CFL Alumni Association Board of Directors.

The annual Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame Dinner and Awards Ceremony will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 12, 2015.

For more information on the event please contact Leo Ezerins, Executive Director, CFLAA at 905-464-0007 or email at leo@cflalumni.org.

RIDERS 2015 FLORIDA MINICAMP COMPLETE

April 12th, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughriders wrapped up their 2015 minicamp at Bradenton, Florida’s IMG Academy with a roughly 80-minute session Sunday morning. Here are some notes which will become part of an expansive Mosaic Place Monday Morning Goalie tomorrow:

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

- Veteran receiver Jamel Richardson raised eyebrows across the CFL when he signed with the Roughriders on December 23. Why? Because he hasn’t played football since 2013 when he suffered a major injury to his left knee, and was released by Montreal in June of 2014.

Richardson participated in Saturday morning’s walk-through with a clunky brace on his left knee but watched from the sidelines Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. GM Brendan Taman reported when camp broke that there’s still a chance Richardson won’t be recovered in time for the 2015 season however they remain optimistic. As far as J-Rich goes, he’s intent on coming back.

- If Richardson can’t go, that will present an opportunity for someone else because it appears #14 was pencilled in as one of the starting five. Amongst those who may have a leg up are Naaman Roosevelt, LaQuan Williams and Greg Hardin who all took turns doing good things on the weekend. Roosevelt and Williams are NFL journeymen while Hardin had a tryout with the Denver Broncos last year but hasn’t taken a regular season snap in pro football.

- I forgot how lightning-quick slotback Chris Getzlaf is but having had a chance to watch him from the sidelines again, I was reminded of his moves. Getzlaf was hampered by injuries in 2014 but told me Sunday afternoon he “feels great” and training in Anaheim this winter was a benefit because he could run outdoors. His speed is no longer deceptive to CFL defenses but that’s not because it’s waning. It’s because times now know he has to be feared and accounted for at all times.

- Returning Canadian WR #83 Alex Anthony had a very strong showing. At times I confused him for #89 because he displayed great speed and made several athletic grabs.

- Darian Durant had his scheduled reps increased over the weekend when he informed the coaching and medical staff that he feels 100% and experienced no soreness. It appears it will be “all systems go” with the Roughriders’ top pivot for the 2015 season which has to be a major relief.

- Canadian RB Jerome Messam stated a few weeks ago he plans to be a force in 2015 and it appears the Roughriders agree. Messam got some action with the first grouping and appears to be in fantastic shape and mindset. However returning imports Anthony Allen and Steve Miller still figure to be the featured backs.

- The Riders plan to go with a pair of American offensive tackles this year and head coach Corey Chamblin said that’s no secret to anyone. He said there are a few intriguing tackles available in this year’s draft however it’s unrealistic to expect they’d be ready to start in 2015. I’ve noted in reports over the weekend who some of the prospects are but the best bet is returnee Levy Adcock who spelled off left tackle Xavier Fulton at times last year.

- On the interior of the offensive line, the guards this season will be Brendon Labatte and Chris Best with either Dan Clark or Corey Watman at centre. The two rotated at that position over the weekend with mostly good results. However there were some foibles too as they adjusted to the quarterbacks’ cadence. Durant unsuspectingly fielded one bullet snap in the groin while Tino Sunseri took one off the facemask.

- As far as a review of defensive players goes, I’m inclined to go with Corey Chamblin’s assessment that they “all look the same”. Chamblin reasoned that they all looked good, and no one seemed out of place. However no one particularly jumped out at me other than cornerback Tyree Hollins who recorded at least a pair of interceptions. He’s a raw rookie to pro football out of Grambling State and has experience returning kicks.

- The defenders will have lots to think about between now and the starting of training camp in Saskatoon in June. Chamblin reminded them during skelly and team sessions that “the fullback is a receiver” and it’s one more player to be accounted for in space. That, coupled with the whacky Canadian rules on punt returns, these players will be learning a whole new ball game.

- At the conclusion of the camp, Riders Assistant GM Jeremy O’Day told the players on field that they can now go home and wait for the club’s evaluation of their individual play. He told them to be in contact with their agents. In an interview afterwards, O’Day told me the signed players will be hoping they won’t be getting a call and they can come straight to camp however the unsigned players will be waiting by the phone.

- And finally Chamblin told the players that they did “an excellent job” and now they know the pace at which this team practices. He told them to be mentally and physically ready for the start of training camp.

That’s all for now but there will be a detailed MMG posted tomorrow complete with several photos of 2015 camp.

Thanks for reading!

RP

DAY 1 RIDER MINICAMP UPDATE

April 10th, 2015

DAY 1 NOTES AND CHAMBLIN QUOTES

BRADENTON, FL – As you can see by the photo above, the grass field for the Roughriders’ 2015 minicamp at the IMG Academy isn’t glamorous but it more than gets the job done. The facility offers as many pads, dummies and cones as the Riders need and paint the lines to CFL specifications. Here are some observations from Day 1:

- After weeks and months of planning this camp by the Rider football operations staff, you know once it began that it would go by in a blink. After Friday, the club is already 2/5 done.

- It was a steamy 28 degrees Celsius for the practices, but it seemed hotter.

- Everyone was clamouring for a Darian Durant update. The 10-year veteran pivot was the last off the team bus and everyone watched as he strolled in. Durant had equal reps with the other three quarterbacks (Tino Sunseri, Seth Doege and Brett Miller) in the morning workout but was given a reprieve in the shorter afternoon session.

- I don’t have any video of Durant passing to post, but it can be found on my Facebook page as well as Twitter feed @sportscage and Instagram: ridervoice. He seemed to throw effortlessly, and was pain free. Corey Chamblin offers an assessment below.

- Veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn is not in attendance this weekend due to a family commitment.

- The first players on the field were longsnapper Levi Steinhauer and the four punters in camp: Trey Barrow, Kyle Martens, Denton Kolodzinksi and Ray Early. Steinhauer’s snaps were in the 2.1-2.3 second range and he said he’s been able to snap pain-free since January. He tore a right pec muscle in the last year’s Labour Day Classic which finished his season.

- There were five running backs on Day 1 led by Steven Miller who saw some time near the end of last year after being cut by the NFL’s Detroit Lions. Incumbents Anthony Allen and Jerome Messam are expected to participate the rest of the weekend.

- There were six offensive linemen in the workouts including Levy Adcock and Matt Vonk. Veterans Dan Clark and Corey Watman will join on Saturday and they’ll battle this year for the starting centre job vacated by Dominic Picard.

- 32 minutes into the workout, Chamblin called for the first water break. That was followed by another 13 minutes later.

- In the first offensive 1-on-1 play, Tino Sunseri overthrew rookie Greg Hardin by 30 yards. It wasn’t immediately evident who was at fault there.

- There were a lot of incompletions early, including from Durant, but it didn’t last long. It became a day for the receivers.

- The prettiest pass completion of the morning was a 45-yarder from Durant to #84 Greg Hardin. In the second session, Hardin made the most remarkable circus catch of the day, catching a tipped pass from rookie Brett Smith.

- It seemed like Brett Smith (Wyoming) was having problems with the larger CFL ball (he dropped a snap and threw some wobblers) but when he was on, he displayed a great arm. He spent part of last season with the Argonauts so the balls aren’t new to him. Perhaps he was a victim of sweaty hands or slick balls.

- Deep completions highlighted the day including Smith for 60 yards to LaQuan Williams and Tino Sunseri 55 yards to Naaman Roosevelt over defender Qua Cox.

- I’m told Qua Cox is former Rider James Patrick’s brother. Cox played at Jackson State while J-P was a product of Stillman College.

- 27-year old receiver Naaman Roosevelt, a former Buffalo Bill, Cleveland Brown and Detroit Lion really caught my eye. He hauled in a deep one which caused linebacker Phillip Stewart to grown, “That was way too easy!”

- Corey Chamblin admitted he would lose his voice by the end of the day. He was extremely vocal, although mostly encouraging. He habitually screamed at the DBs, “Play the hands! Play the hands!’

- He also barked a reminder for players to run between plays, and not walk. George Cortez yelled the same thing last year. “You knew you were coming to camp!” Chamblin yelled. “Get in shape!”

- Another water break an hour and 11 minutes into the workout.

- The finished both practices with special teams work. Veteran ST Coordinator Bob Dyce was heared to say to the cover players, “Every punt needs to be returned!” The rookie Americans are used to the fair catch.

- In the afternoon’s skelly period, Durant was given it off. Tino Sunseri was first up, followed by Seth Doege and then Brett Smith. It seemed Sunseri was looking for Greg Hardin early on, but habitually found Naaman Roosevelt.

- Steve Miller, Alex Carroll and Cierre Wood auditioned on punt returns however the balls were thrown high in the air, rather than punted.

CHAMBLIN QUOTES

AN ASSESMENT?

CC: Of course this is the first time they’ve all been together. We’ve seen them individually at FA camps and things like that. I thought it was pretty good the way the guys ran around. The coaches taught some things and the guys picked it up pretty good. Maybe not on the first rep, but it was all a positive progression. Each rep they got better.

DURANT?

CC: I think he’s passed the rehab stage. I think it’s one of those things to where we wanted to make sure the younger guys got a lot of reps in the AM and the PM. Darian will be heavy on reps the rest of the weekend. It’s not going to be guarded unless there’s fatigue for some other reason.

DID YOU CHECK IN WITH HIM YET?

CC: I did not. I’m passed the rehab stage with him. All I wanted to know is how he is with the new coaches and the new system. I checked with him on that and what he needs to change.

ON THE BACK-UP QBs

CC: I think it is a fresh start. With everyone one of them who’s come in, sometimes as a coach you have a pre-conceived notion but that’s not the case. With them it’s a fresh start. Jacques will look at them and he’ll make his thoughts. Same thing with defense and special teams. It’s exciting to see these guys start from ground zero and build it up.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST HURDLE FOR ROOKIES?

CC: The coaches have done a real good job in explaining in the meetings. Now with the rule changes for the DBs, it isn’t too much of a hurdle now. With the kicking game, we showed video of the kick-out. There’s different things but as far as the one yard off the ball, I think we’ve done a good job of coaching that.

GREG HARDIN SAYS NO DB PUT A HAND ON HIM…

CC: He didn’t because they can’t touch him! He was pretty good. I spoke to another receiver and he said, ‘Coach I was pretty open all day!’. I said ‘Ya you today you were’. We’re over-cautious on not touching them but we’ll find a way around that to a point where we can put hands on them.

The Roughriders will be back on the field at 9:00 am Saskatchewan time on Saturday. We’ll have a special Saturday SportsCage show at 3:30 pm on 620 CKRM.

RP

CFL GOVERNORS APPROVE RULE CHANGES

April 9th, 2015

TORONTO – Significant changes to the convert, passing rules and the pace of the game will be in place when the new Canadian Football League season kicks off this June.

The league’s Board of Governors approved today most of the changes proposed earlier this Spring by the CFL’s Rules Committee.

“The Board endorsed the view that this is a great time for our league to innovate,” said Michael Copeland, the CFL’s President and Chief Operating Officer.

“We’re looking forward to putting in place changes that have the potential to improve an already great game.”

The CFL is modifying the convert that follows a touchdown to make it less predictable.

A kick for a single point, which took place from the 12-yard line in past seasons, will now be kicked from the 32-yard line.

Last year, 99.4 per cent of kicks for a single point following a touchdown were successful. For field goal attempts from between 31 and 33 yards, 81 per cent were successful.

If a team opts to run or pass the ball into the end zone for a two point convert following a touchdown, the ball will be scrimmaged from the three-yard line, instead of the five-yard line, which may entice more coaches to “go for two”.

Last year, there were only 23 two-point convert attempts, and seven, or 30 per cent, were successful.
But the Governors rejected the Committee’s suggestion that the league test a more radical approach during pre-season games: a convert worth three points if a team chose to run or pass the ball over the goal line from the ten-yard-line.

To open up the passing game, the Governors approved a change designed to create more room for a passing offence.

It will allow a defensive player to contact a receiver that is in front of him within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but it will not allow either player to create or initiate contact that impedes or redirects an opponent beyond five yards.

The Board agreed that on a punt play, when the ball bounces on the ground and a five yard no yards penalty is called, the penalty will automatically be added to the end of the return, or from the point the ball was first touched by the return team, whichever is better.

In the past, the receiving team had to choose between the five-yard penalty or the yards gained on the return.

It is believed that making the penalty more punitive could reduce the number of no yards penalties.
To increase the tempo of the game, at any time in the game the offence will now be allowed to signal to the Referee that it doesn’t want to substitute and it wants to use a tempo offence.

The officials will then blow the play in immediately upon the ball and yardsticks being set for play.

This new protocol will be combined with a rule change made last year – which meant the offence no longer had to wait for the defense to substitute before initiating a play if the offence had not substituted.

Together, the changes create an opportunity for the offence to dictate the pace of the game.

Also to improve game flow, the CFL is removing the ability of a coach to request a measurement, leaving it to the Referee to measure when he is unsure if a first down has been made or not.

On punts, a rule change will prohibit the five interior linemen on the kicking team from leaving the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.

This should reduce the number of illegal blocking and no yards penalties, while increasing the amount of room the receiving team has to set up a return.

There would be a ten-yard penalty for violating this new rule.

The CFL is maintaining the ability for a coach to challenge Defensive Pass Interference, an innovation introduced last year. But the Board of Governors rejected a proposal that Offensive Pass Interference also be made subject to video review.

It approved no longer giving the receiving team the option of demanding that a team kick again after one of its kick offs goes out of bounds. The receiving team will now either take the ball where it went out of bounds, or at a point 30 yards in advance of where the ball was kicked off, whichever is better.

The Canadian Football League regular season kicks off on Thursday June 25 when the Montreal Alouettes host the Ottawa REDBLACKS. On Friday, June 26, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats visit the Calgary Stampeders for a rematch of last year’s Grey Cup game. On Saturday, June 27, the Toronto Argonauts host the Edmonton Eskimos and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers travel to Saskatchewan to face the Roughriders.

The CFL pre-season kicks off Monday June 8 when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats host the Ottawa REDBLACKS.

The Rules Committee includes several CFL coaches and general managers as well as representatives of the CFL, CFL Players’ Association and CFL Officials.

The CFL Board of Governors includes owners of privately held teams, chairmen of community owned teams, and several team presidents.

RIDER NOTEBOOK

April 7th, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today international defensive lineman Markus White and international linebacker Justin Cole have re-signed with the team. As per club policy, details of the contracts were not released.

White (6’4 – 264) will return to the Riders for his second season after originally signing with the team in May, 2014. Before coming to Saskatchewan the Florida State product played five regular season games in the NFL between 2011 and 2012 after being selected in the 7th round (224th overall) by the Washington Redskins of the 2011 Draft.

Last season, the 27-year-old played one regular season game with the Riders, spending the remainder of the season on the practice roster.

Cole (6’3 – 240) will also re-join the Riders after being added to the teams practice roster in October, 2014. The San Jose State product originally signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in April, 2010. The 27-year-old went on to spend the 2011 and 2012 with the St. Louis Rams where he played 20 regular season games.

The California native has also spent time with the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins over his five NFL seasons.

· The Riders also announced that international linebacker Chad Kilgore and national long snapper Kyle Jones have decided to retire from the Canadian Football League.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are excited to announce that a new Rider Store location will open in the Mall at Lawson Heights in Saskatoon. The Rider Store will be the second location in Saskatoon and fifth in the province.

The newest Rider Store will be the largest to date, featuring 3,000 square feet of Rider merchandise for the whole family. The new store is designed to make your visit a better overall shopping experience including on site jersey cresting so fans in Saskatoon can get their favourite name and number on a jersey immediately. The new location will not only serve Saskatoon residents but will make it more accessible for fans in Northern Saskatchewan to get the best Rider gear.

The Lawson Heights store has also been built using eco-friendly galvanized slat walls that requires no paint and less maintenance, and includes LED light fixtures that are longer lasting and reduce heat and energy costs. Because green is the colour!

The Mall at Lawson Heights is located on Primrose Drive – off Warman Road in Saskatoon’s North end.

Store hours are:

Monday – Tuesday 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
Wednesday – Friday 9:30 am – 9:00 pm
Saturday 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
Sunday & Holidays 11:00 – 5:00 pm

Construction is underway and we can’t wait to show our fans the newest location. Look for our Grand Opening Celebration in May!

And remember….

When you purchase your Rider gear at The Rider Store – Mosaic Stadium, Northgate, Grasslands, in Saskatoon at the Centre or Lawson Heights, and theriderstore.ca or from any of our stadium novelty concession stands on game day – 100% of the sales go directly to the Saskatchewan Roughriders and help us win.

RIDERS READY FOR FLORIDA

April 6th, 2015

The Saskatchewan Roughriders will hold a minicamp for a third straight year at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL this weekend. The invite-only camp will feature roughly 70 players which will include 15-20 veteran Riders along with dozens of CFL rookies straight out of the NFL, NCAA and CIS.

Roughriders Assistant GM Jeremy O’Day outlined the minicamp on 620 CKRM’s SportsCage on Monday.

“It’s a lot of work that goes into the minicamps for the fact you’re travelling guys from all over North America to one spot,” O’Day reported. “And you’re trying to get them all there at the same time. It’s not like when you put a team all on one flight and they arrive at the same time. They’re coming in from all over. That’s the biggest challenge. You’re watching the weather too to make sure everything pans out when you’re down there. It’s all part of it.”

As it stands now, the forecast calls for sunshine and 31 degrees Celsius through the weekend on the Gulf Coast.

While the Riders will not make their minicamp roster public, O’Day provided a few details on who will be in attendance.

“You’re gonna see new guys on both sides of the ball but there will be a larger amount on the defensive side just because we’re not bringing as many veteran defensive players,” O’Day said. “But we will have plenty of young guys on offense as well. But we wanted to bring a lot of offensive vets.”

These minicamps have proved to be beneficial as the Riders have started the past two seasons 8-1 and 8-2 and it appears the rest of the league is catching on.

“All the other teams are starting to do it as well,” O’Day continued. “I can’t say it’s a 100% why we started so fast but I hope it helps.”

All eyes will be on veteran quarterback Darian Durant who confirmed his attendance in the camp months ago and it’ll be his first on-field work since the 2014 season ended (he practiced indoors during the week of the 2014 WSF). Durant’s season ended in September last year when he went down with a torn tendon in his throwing elbow.

It will be keenly interesting to see how things operate under the club’s new coordinators Jacques Chapdelaine (offense) and Greg Quick (defense). However for his part, O’Day is just as interested as us to see how things take shape.

“The better part of my job is to stay out of that and let the coaches do the coaching part but I’ll be a lot like anyone just interested to see how the offense and defense shapes up,” O’Day revealed. “You’re always interested in what new will come out of it, and what will be exciting about the offense and defense. For me, it’s not much of my job to get involved with those meetings. I do know the coaches have been meeting constantly and keeping us up to speed on what type of players they want to look for in certain positions and it’s our job to find those guys.”

620 CKRM will be broadcasting the SportsCage live from Florida on Friday, Saturday and Monday and we’ll have in-depth reports with Roughrider guests. You can also follow our Twitter feed @sportscage and read up on this blog and 620ckrm.com

ESKIMOS RELEASE BURNETT

April 3rd, 2015

(Edmonton) – The Edmonton Eskimo Football Club announces the release of international cornerback Joe Burnett.

Burnett originally signed as a free agent on Oct. 7, 2011. In 39 games, he recorded 122 defensive tackles, three special teams tackles and eight interceptions. He also returned 40 kickoffs for 804 yards and 85 punts for 731 yards.

THE LATEST ON THE RIDERS

March 30th, 2015

Saskatchewan Roughriders General Manager Brendan Taman was on the SportsCage on Monday providing an update on Canada’s Team, particularly on last week’s CFL GM meetings in Toronto and the CFL National Combine. Here are some of the quotes:

IS THERE A KORY SHEETS UPDATE?

BT: Not much to update. I think he is still going through some medical testing and I think there’s still some conjecture on when or if he’ll be ready to play this year. Not that he won’t be, but I think there’s still some long roads to go down on his health.

WILL SUNSERI AND GLENN BOTH BE ON THE ROSTER IN 2015?

BT: The plan is very, very simple. We’re going to take the three best quarterbacks – if not the four best quarterbacks – and have them on our team. Whether it’s Tino, Kevin and Doege (behind Durant) or whatever combination you come up with. If it’s Darian, Kevin and Tino and they’re the best three, that’s who’s going to be on our team. When Corey and his staff come to us and say these are our three best quarterbacks, then it’s our job to figure out how to fit them in and that’s what we will do.

WHAT WAS YOUR INVOLVEMENT ON THE RULES COMMITTEE?

BT: I was representing our team on the Rules Committee. Normally that’s been Jim Hopson’s responsibility in the past but with him moving on, they assigned me to that. So I got to sit in on that lengthy discussion about the varying number of rules and it was quite interesting to say the least. On top of that we had some GM meetings in addition to that. I literally had three or four full days of meetings.

WHAT GOES ON IN THOSE ROOMS?

BT: You listen to Wally and Hufnagel lecture everybody on how the league should work and you say ‘okay’. Glen Johnson in the Rules Committee meetings does a really good job of explaining things. You go around the room with thoughts but the older guys that have been in the league are the ones that control the meetings. But there are guys like myself, Ed Hervey, Kyle Walters, Mike O’Shea and the other people all have input. It’s a lengthy, long, detailed process and as you can imagine, with nine teams with a different opinion on each rule, it’s like herding cats.

ARE THE PROPOSED CHANGES ALL HUFF AND WALLY’S IDEA?

BT: I wouldn’t say that but they control the discussions during those meetings just because of the length of time in the league. Jim Popp’s another one and they have really strong opinions. Personally that won’t change my mind but Glen does a very good job of organizing things.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PROPOSED CHANGES?

BT: We talked about that five yard halo on punt returns at length and it wasn’t too long ago we had 15 yards in place for the bouncing of the ball. Then we went to five and then they were talking about going back to 15 and I was like, ‘Geez Marie’. I’m like you a bit in being a traditionalist but the mandate from the league was to open up the game and create more exciting play in our game. Some of those changes will dictate that for sure. Saskatchewan was in favour of most of them, but not all.

HOW IS THE 5-YARD BUMPER FOR DB’S ANY DIFFERENT THAN BEFORE?

BT: It’s funny you say that because if you implement the rules the way we have them, that’ll work. But the problem is we’re not doing that. What we’re trying to do is have it so it’s black and white for the refs. After five yards you can’t touch the guy right? The problem with that is as a DB, I look at it from the defensive side, and as a DB, I’m worried for those guys because their ability to play this game has changed quite dramatically. To not allow you to touch a guy after five yards is a dramatic change to the way we play the game. You’re going to get receivers trying to push off a guy and get Offensive P-I brought into the thing. The whole intent of this thing is to make it easier, whether or not we’ve done it, we’ll wait and see.

WHERE DOES REGINA WR ADDISON RICHARDS FIT INTO THE DRAFT?

BT: What’s hurting Addison this year compared to past drafts is that he’s in a very deep, strong draft. If he was coming out last year, I’d be quite confident that he’d be a first round pick. I’m not not sure he will be this year because of the depth of the draft. Whether he’s 1, 4, 8 or 12, regardless of where he gets picked, he’s a great football player.

WHAT ABOUT HIS DESIRE TO BE DRAFTED BY THE RIDERS?

BT: It means a lot. You don’t want to pick guys from Eastern Canada that don’t want to play in Saskatchewan, that’s for sure. When a guy says he wants to play in Regina and is a Regina guy, that sure helps. What’s interesting is what does it do to the other teams? We might be the benefactors of that but when we pick at #6 we have to pick the best guy that’s available that can help our team at that time.

CFL PROPOSED RULE CHANGES

March 27th, 2015

TORONTO — The convert would be less automatic, receivers would have more space, and the game would speed up.

Those are the projected outcomes if rules changes proposed Thursday by the Canadian Football League’s Rules Committee are approved later this Spring by its Board of Governors.

“We have sought to be innovative while protecting the integrity of the game with a focus on player safety,” said Glen Johnson, the CFL’s Vice-President of Officiating and its representative on the Rules Committee.

“We believe we are recommending to our Board of Governors responsible ways to improve the tempo and flow of the game, reduce the number of stoppages including penalties, increase opportunities for scoring and excitement, and simplify our rules.”

The Rules Committee is recommending modifying the convert that follows a touchdown.

A kick for a single point, which now comes from the 12-yard line, would come instead from the 32-yard line.

Last year, 99.4 per cent of kicks for a single point following a touchdown were successful. For field goal attempts from between 31 and 33 yards, 81 per cent were successful.

In fact, there have only been 24 converts missed in 15 seasons, a frequency of just once in every 232 attempts or 47 games.

Under the proposal, a kicked convert that is wide would remain live and can be run back for a two-point score.

If a team opts to run or pass the ball into the end zone for a two point convert following a touchdown, the ball would be scrimmaged from the three-yard line, instead of the current five-yard line, which may entice more coaches to “go for two”.

Last year, there were only 23 two-point convert attempts, and seven, or 30 per cent, were successful.

The Governors also have the option of choosing to test a more radical approach during pre-season games: a convert worth three points when a team chooses to run or pass the ball over the goal line from the ten-yard-line.

To open up the passing game, the Rules Committee is suggesting a change designed to create more room for the offence.

It would allow a defensive player to contact a receiver that is in front of him within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but would not allow either player to create or initiate contact that impedes or redirects an opponent beyond five yards.

The Rules Committee recommends that on a punt play, when the ball bounces on the ground and a five yard no yards penalty is called, the penalty will automatically be added to the end of the return, or from the point the ball was first touched by the return team, whichever is better.

Currently, the receiving team has to choose between the five-yard penalty or the yards gained on the return.
It is believed that making the penalty more punitive may reduce the number of no yards penalties.

To increase the tempo of the game, the Rules Committee suggests that at any time in the game the offence be allowed to signal to the Referee that it doesn’t want to substitute and it wants to use a tempo offence.

The officials would then blow the play in immediately upon the ball and yardsticks being set for play.

This new protocol will be combined with a rule change made last year – which meant the offence no longer had to wait for the defense to substitute before initiating a play if the offence had not substituted.

Together, the changes create an opportunity for the offence to dictate the pace of the game.

On punts, the Rules Committee recommends prohibiting the five interior linemen on the kicking team from leaving the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.

This should reduce the number of illegal blocking and perhaps no yards penalties, while increasing the amount of room the receiving team has to set up a return.

There would be a ten-yard penalty for violating this proposed new rule.

Also to improve game flow, the Rules Committee wants to remove the ability of a coach to request a measurement, leaving it to the Referee to measure when he is unsure if a first down has been made or not.

The Rules Committee recommends maintaining the ability for a coach to challenge Defensive Pass Interference, an innovation introduced last year. But it goes one step further this year, suggesting that Offensive Pass Interference also be made subject to video review.

It also recommends no longer giving the receiving team the option of demanding that a team kick again after one of its kick offs goes out of bounds. The receiving team will either take the ball where it went out of bounds, or at a point 30 yards in advance of where the ball was kicked off, whichever is better.

“Our governors are charged with the special responsibility of ensuring our product is fast and exciting for our fans and we treat our great game and players with the utmost respect,” Johnson said.

“The changes we’re putting forward for their consideration represent our best advice in meeting these objectives.”

The Rules Committee includes several CFL coaches and general managers as well as representatives of the CFL, CFL Players’ Association and CFL Officials.

All of its recommendations are subject to review and approval by the CFL’s Board of Governors.