RIDERS THE LONE CAP VIOLATORS

April 23rd, 2014

TORONTO (CP) - The Grey Cup-champion Saskatchewan Roughriders were the only team to surpass the CFL’s 4.4-million salary cap in 2013, the league announced Wednesday.
According to the CFL, the Roughriders’ spent $4,417,975 in salaries last year. As per league rules, the club will be fined $17,975, or one dollar for each dollar it was over the cap.
The CFL conducts field audits of all eight clubs twice per year, once during the regular season and once following its completion.

And with no team exceeding the cap by more than $100,000, there will be no change to the order of selection for the CFL draft on May 13. Presently, the expansion Ottawa Redblacks have the first overall pick.

DURANT SIGNS MULTI-YEAR EXTENSION

April 16th, 2014

Saskatchewan Roughriders General Manager Brendan Taman announced today that import quarterback Darian Durant has signed a multi-year extension with the team. As per team policy, financial details of the contract were not released.  

Durant just completed his eighth CFL season with the Riders after originally signing with the team ahead of the 2006 season. In 16 regular season starts last year, the 31-year-old threw for 4,154 yards and a league leading 31 touchdowns – the third highest single season total in team history. He was named a West Division All-Star for the second time in his career. 

The University of North Carolina product then started the West Semi-Final and West Final totaling 550 passing yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions, while adding 10 carries for 115 yards rushing. In the 101st Grey Cup game, Durant added another 245 passing yards and three touchdowns, helping lead the team to a 45-23 victory. 

For his career, Durant currently ranks third all-time in franchise passing attempts with 2,842, completions with 1,745, passing yards with 22,711 and passing touchdowns with 125.

He is a two-time Grey Cup champion having won with the Riders as the starting quarterback in 2013 and as a backup in 2007.

FORMER RIDER GM PASSES

April 14th, 2014

(Vancouver) The BC Lions Football Club is saddened to report the loss of one of its own with the passing of former coach and player personnel executive Bill Quinter.

Quinter joined the club as an assistant coach in 1977 under head coach Vic Rapp and was part of a staff that helped lead the club to revival of sorts on the field over the next six seasons. Following a tough 5-9-2 record in 1976, the Leos developed into a western powerhouse with Quinter serving as offensive line coach for four seasons before switching to the defensive side of the ball for his final two years as an assistant. Bill returned to the Lions in 1990 serving as the director of player personnel and was an instrumental figure in the club’s 1994 Grey Cup run.

Bill started his CFL career as a player in 1962 with the Ottawa Rough Riders and went on to play 41 games over five seasons earning All-Canadian honours at linebacker and defensive end in 1963. From 1968 to 1972, Quinter coached in the NCAA ranks before returning to the CFL as an assistant with Toronto in 1973. He would ultimately go on to serve five different CFL clubs in various personnel positions as well as the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints.

Quinter was the General Manager of the Saskatchewan Roughriders from 1984 to 1986.

RIDERS SIGN RYAN SMITH

April 14th, 2014

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that import receiver Ryan Smith has signed with the team. As per club policy financial details of the contract were not released.

Smith (5’7 – 175) joins the Riders after spending four seasons playing at North Dakota State University. In 54 career collegiate games the 22-year-old amassed 1,783 yards and eight touchdowns on 147 receptions, as well as 271 yards and three touchdowns on 32 rush attempts. The Wahpeton, ND native also added 945 yards and three touchdowns on 82 punt returns and 773 yards and one touchdown on 30 kickoff returns. He was named to the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference second team in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The NDSU Bisons have won three consecutive NCAA Division I FCS National Championships.

Recently, Smith was invited and participated in Riders mini-camp as a free agent after being scouted by Assistant General Manager Jeremy O’Day and Director of Player Personnel Craig Smith.

CFL MOVES

April 8th, 2014

The NFL’s Chicago Bears on Monday agreed to terms with long-snapper Chad Rempel on a three-year contract.

The 6-2, 214-pounder spent the last 10 seasons in the Canadian Football League, appearing in games for Winnipeg, Toronto and Hamilton while also seeing time with Edmonton and Montreal. He played seven seasons with Toronto from 2006-07 and 2009-2013.

Rempel, a 31-year-old native of Alberta, Canada, who attended the University of Saskatchewan, was a long-snapper and wide receiver in the CFL, compiling 70 special-teams tackles, two fumble recoveries along with 22 receptions for 283 yards and two touchdowns.

LIONS SIGN JYLES

(Vancouver) The BC Lions Football Club announced this morning that quarterback Steven Jyles has agreed to terms on a contract with the team.

A seven-year CFL veteran, Jyles joins the Lions after sitting out the 2013 campaign and last suited up for the Edmonton Eskimos in 2012, starting nine games for the Green and Gold with a 5-4 record.

“Steven has a lot of experience in our league as both a starter and a back-up and we expect him to provide a significant level of competition for the quarterbacks we have under contract,” said VP of football operations and GM Wally Buono.

Jyles broke into the league with the Esks in 2006 before being traded to Saskatchewan in 2008. The Louisiana-Monroe grad appeared in 36 regular season games for the ‘Riders as well as the 2009 Grey Cup before becoming the starting quarterback in Winnipeg in 2010. As a Bomber, Jyles led the CFL with a 100.9 passer rating and established a career-high for TD passes with 19.

The Bombers traded the now well-traveled pivot to Toronto where he split playing time with then-starter Cleo Lemon in 2011. He returned to Edmonton in 2012 as part of the Ricky Ray trade and earned nine more starts leading the Eskimos to five of their seven wins that year.

In total, Jyles has dressed for 114 regular season games, 28 as a starter, throwing for 7,075 yards on 541 completions with 37 touchdowns. He’s also added 1,296 rushing yards on 197 carries with 13 majors.

BOMBERS ADD MCDIARMID

WINNIPEG, MB., April 7, 2014 – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers announce today that Cory McDiarmid has been named the club’s Linebackers Coach.

McDiarmid enters his first season in Winnipeg in this role – and second stint coaching with the organization – coming over from the Riders, where he was a Special Teams Assistant. Previous to that, McDiarmid spent the past two seasons at the University of Ottawa as the Assistant Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator.

McDiarmid brings with him 10 years of experience in the Canadian Football League, including three trips to the Grey Cup, which he won with the B.C. Lions in 2000. He has coached in various capacities with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Montreal Alouettes, Calgary Stampeders, Toronto Argonauts, and B.C. Lions. Prior to coaching in the CFL, McDiarmid coached for six seasons in the CJFL, three of those at UBC, working with Vanier Cup champions in 1997, and two seasons with British Columbia’s Under 19 Provincial Team, winning a Canada Cup Championship in 2000. He also served as Defensive Coordinator and special teams assistant at the Jim Barker School of Football in 2004.

DAY 2 RIDER MINICAMP REPORT

April 6th, 2014

From Bradenton, FLA:

- Nobody walked out of camp from Day 1 to Day 2. That’s always a bonus!

- The grass field at IMG Academy was covered with morning dew once again which presented problems. Very early on complaints were heard about wet balls.

- One quarterback walking to a drill drew the ire of one assistant coach you yelled, “Hurry up! Hurry up! HURRAY UP!”

- Among the veterans participating in camp: QB Tino Sunseri, OL Matt Vonk, OL Corey Watman, LB Morty Ivy and CB Rod Williams. I’m told Williams was invited to camp because he wasn’t in training camp with the Riders in 2013 plus he missed significant time during the year with a broken arm.

- In the “Gauntlet” drill there were 29 consecutive passes completed beginning with receiver Brett Swain and it ended with a drop by Roy Roundtree. They switched hash and completed 13 straight before a drop by Chaz Schilens.

- A coach yells to a receiver, “Finish! Finish! You’re jogging! That won’t get you on the field!”

- Offensive coordinator George Cortez has great route instruction for the receivers, telling them which shoulder of the DB to line up on to disguise their route. He told them also to keep their shoulders forward to prevent them from slipping on the grass.

- It’s amazing how quickly the slot receivers picked up the waggle although their timing wasn’t always perfect.

- CB Rod Williams injected himself first in the one-on-one session yelling, “Lemme get the first one!” He was promptly beaten and called out for grabbing the receiver’s jersey. “You a referee?” Williams chirped. He’s got swagger. It reminded me of the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman.

- Linebacker #50 Scott McKillop drew plaudits from coaches and teammates alike for his play. He had great coverage and long-snapped on Day 1.

- Rookie quarterback #17 Jon Jennings came a long way from Day 1. He launched a 60-yard bullet which sailed through the hands of receiver Martel Moore. One defensive back squealed from the sidelines in a high-pitched voice, “They can’t catch ‘em today!”

- Riders’ Director of Player Personnel Craig Smith described the talent at the minicamp as “spectacular” and said they’re very comfortable with the idea of filling the holes left behind by Dressler, Sheets and company.

- Jon Jennings threw a 50-yard arrow to Sammie Stroughter who found the endzone behind DB Greg McCoy.

- Jennings was the top pivot to this point of the workout.

- Receiver Brett Swain, a veteran of three NFL teams and college teammate of Chaz Schilens and Terrell Maze was leaps and bounds ahead of Day 1. Due to travel snafus, he got in late from San Diego and missed all of Friday’s meetings. However on Sunday, he shone.

- In the seven-on-seven session the quarterbacks were Tino Sunseri, Seth Doege and Jon Jennings. One of the few interceptions on the day came from Greg McCoy (a former Bear, Viking and Cardinal) off of Tino Sunseri. Tino recovered and completed hook-ups to Stroughter and Ryan Smith in the same grouping.

- The workout lasted exactly 1:15 and went from 8:45 AM to 10:00 AM ET.

- At the conclusion of the workout Corey Chamblin told the group Sunday was a much better day, especially on the mental side. He told them between now and training camp to get in shape and get their mind right. He said they’re a long ways from a championship group but “it’s here”.

- In the media period QB Seth Doege felt he could have performed better but was pleased with the fact he got better in each session. Coach Chamblin wasn’t sure how many quarterbacks will be brought to training camp in Saskatoon because it all depends on numbers, but he guessed four.

- When asked about the impressive showing by receiver Ryan Smith from NDSU, Chamblin cautioned, “We’re not going to win the 2014 Grey Cup because of Ryan Smith. Let’s not hype him up too much.” He was looking directly at me.

- Immediately following the workout the players were bussed to the airport and flew home. A handful of Rider staff will be sticking around for the next 24 to 48 to complete the details of the mini-camp.

- The next time we’re on air from Florida will be Monday at 4:00 pm with a SportsCage on 620 CKRM live from Hogan’s Beach Bar in Tampa Bay. We’ll hear from coach Chamblin, Ryan Smith, Greg McCoy, Brett Swain and Seth Doege.

- Hope you enjoyed the coverage!

RP

RIDER MINICAMP DAY 1 REPORT

April 5th, 2014

- The Riders hit the field for their first workout at 9:15 am Saturday here in Bradenton, Florida. The session lasted exactly 90 minutes.

- The dew-covered field was incredibly slippery and players were losing their footing all over the place and spitting out divots. “We’re chewing the heck outta this field,” said one Rider staffer. I’m surprised with all the money spent on this facility there isn’t an artificial surface.

- QB Jeff Godfrey played for Danny Barrett at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, although D.B. is the running backs coach. Godfrey started as a QB there but spent the past couple of seasons as a receiver. He was a late addition to the mini-camp.

- RB/PR #22 Clifton Smith stands about 5’8″ but plays 6’6″. He’s sturdy and didn’t drop a pass.

- Two receivers in particular had a tough time hanging onto the ball. Coach Chamblin advised during the workout, “I’m not your track coach. I don’t wanna see how fast you are. I wanna see you catch!”

- QB Tino Sunseri is one of a handful of veterans in camp and was clearly the most-polished pivot. He was launching long bombs like they were shot out of a cannon.

- #29 Troy Stoudemire spent some time with the Riders last year and was advising the rookie DB’s that, “This is a big-assed field!”

- #39 running back Jermaine Thomas out of Florida State University has some big-time wheels, size and great hands.

- #16 receiver Brett Swain is an NFL veteran with the Packers, 49ers and Seahawks and is very smooth. Although he had a couple of drops, it appears he’ll get the benefit of the doubt. There was a lot of rust amongst the group but that’s to be expected in the opening practice.

- As the workout wore on, tiny receiver/returner #86 Ryan Smith from the national champion NDSU Bison was impossible to ignore. I tabbed him “The next Weston Dressler” and after the workout coach Chamblin laughed that he’s got a long ways to go to catch Dressler, but they share some of the same attributes and “not just the colour of their skin!” Smith was very noticeable. He’s only 5’7″, 175 lbs but he appears a bit thicker than Weston.

- #42 defensive back Hugo Lopez was extremely physical in pass coverage. Coach Chamblin noted that would be called in CFL game action but the DBs are just trying to slow down the receivers early in camp. As the mini-camp wears on, their coverage will be better.

- The first interception of the day came from defensive back Antonio Fenelus off of QB Jon Jennings.

- #72 linebacker Tyler Greenslade from the U of A took down RB Clifton Smith rather aggressively. Smith popped up, high-fived Greenslade and the linebacker said, “Sorry bro”.

- QB Jennings was very accurate with his short passes but his deep balls wobbled a bit and took a while to get to the target.

- It starts raining interceptions. DB Donnie Fletcher picks off Seth Doege followed shortly by Jeff Godfrey who was intercepted by Marshay Green who returned it 110 yards to the house.

- #81 receiver Chaz Schilens and DB Rod Williams aggressively fight for the ball and Schilens throws him to the grown and gives him a death stare. Rider staff tells me this camp is a lot more intense than last year but these are rookies fighting for a job rather than the veterans who populated last year’s mini-camp.

- The first casualty – #84 receiver Duke Calhoun heads to the sidelines where an icebag is strapped to his knee.

- QB Tino Sunseri is picked off by LB Adrian Moten.

- Punter Brett Cameron starts a punting session with long-snappers Scott McKillop and Levi Adcock. 11 players lined up to return the punts.

- Chamblin noted after the first session that the difference is clear between the NFL vets and raw rookies out of college. It’ll be interesting to see if the gap narrows as the camp goes on.

- We were interested to see if any Rider fans would be on hand and is it turned out, there were about 15 to 20 Saskatchewanians on hand who make Florida their winter home. Lake Alma, SK’s Kenton Field is a long-time family friend and he stopped by on his Florida vacation. It was nice to visit with the fans.

- The afternoon session is scheduled for 3:00 pm ET.

- Don’t forget our special SportsCage at 4:00 pm on 620 CKRM.

RP

RIDERS INVITE ANOTHER QUARTERBACK

April 3rd, 2014

BRADENTON, FL – The Saskatchewan Roughriders are set to open their 2014 free agent camp here at the IMG Academy on Saturday and at least one more quarterback has been added to the mix.

Jon Jennings, who’s graduating this year from Saginaw Valley State, will join the group of quarterbacks in Bradenton which already includes Darian Durant, Tino Sunseri and Seth Doege.

Jennings’ numbers speak for themselves.

He threw for 3,284 yards with 30 touchdowns and ran for 470 yards with 12 touchdowns. He led the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) in yards, yards per game and touchdowns on his way to earning the conference’s player of the year honors.

For his career, he set new GLIAC records with 9,546 yards passing and 10,700 yards total offense.

RIDER SIGN TWO RUNNING BACKS

April 3rd, 2014

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today that import running backs Clifton Smith and Keith Toston have signed with the team. As per club policy financial details of the contracts were not released.
 
Smith (5’8 – 190) joins the Riders after spending the last half of the 2013 season with the Calgary Stampeders. The 28-year-old played two regular season games with the Stamps, seeing action primarily as a kick returner. The California native registered 174 yards on seven kickoff returns (24.9 avg. – 54 yard long) while adding 10 punt returns for 111 yards (11.1 avg. – 29 yard long). He also totaled six rushing yards on two carries and one catch for a six yard touchdown.
 
Before joining the CFL, the Fresno State product spent three seasons in the NFL playing 24 career regular season games. As a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith was named to the 2008 Pro Bowl as the NFC’s return specialist. He split the 2010 season between Cleveland and Miami.      
 
Toston (5’11 – 214) signs with the Green and White after spending three seasons in the NFL, playing 21 career regular season games. The Texas native made the St. Louis Rams opening day roster after signing with the team in 2010 as an undrafted free agent. The 26-year-old spent two seasons with the Rams before signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars for 2012. Through three seasons he totaled 36 carries for 128 yards while adding five receptions for 70 yards.   
 
Before going pro, Toston played four seasons at Oklahoma State (2006-2009) where he accumulated 2,725 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns on 473 carries. He was named 2009 first team All-Big 12 and selected to play in the 85th annual East-West Shrine Game.

LIONS LOCK UP HARRIS

April 2nd, 2014

(Vancouver) The BC Lions Football Club announced this morning that running back Andrew Harris has signed a contract extension keeping him in orange through the 2015 season.

Harris enters his fifth year with the Lions and has never missed an appearance in his 72-game career. The Winnipeg native who became the club’s premier ball carrier midway through the 2011 season has 2,568 rushing yards on 251 career carries with 15 touchdowns.

“Andrew is a very talented running back who along with Stefan Logan, gives our offence a lot of options,” said VP of football operations and GM Wally Buono. “This is a big step in the continuing effort to build a championship team and I’m very pleased to have Andrew as a Lion for years to come.”

Last season was another solid campaign for the club’s starting tailback who fell just two yards short of the 1,000-yard mark on the ground while leading all CFL backs with 61 receptions for 513 yards. His 1,511 yards from scrimmage last year not only led the Leos, it was more than 400 yards ahead of the next player.

“British Columbia has become my home and knowing that I will continue to wear these colours and play the game I love for this organization and Lions fans across the province is an amazing feeling,” said Harris.

Lofty numbers in 2013 including top-three rankings in touchdowns, rushing yards and yards from scrimmage garnered Harris a team nomination as Most Outstanding Canadian Player for a second consecutive year.

“Andrew is an elite football player in our league and I believe his best football is still to come,” said head coach Mike Benevides. “He works extremely hard as both a ball carrier and a receiver which not only makes him a challenge for defensive players, but also adds a dimension to our offensive attack.”