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Friday, July 25, 2014

DAYTONA HOMES FRIDAY RODSERVATIONS


FRIDAY ODDS 'N ENDS

- The trusty flag of the Rider Nation still waves proudly over Saskatchewan after the seemingly longest bye week ever.  The 1-2 Saskatchewan Roughriders oppose the 1-3 Toronto Argonauts Saturday at Mosaic Stadium to close out Week 5 of the 2014 CFL season (8:00 pm, TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network).  While some have tabbed the clash a "must-win game", I don't agree but assuredly is a battle of two desperate clubs.  Despite the Riders' uncharacteristic struggles out of the starting blocks, their fans are still behind them.  Let's see if it is indeed a "brand new season" as Coach Chamblin optimistically pointed out on Tuesday.

- The forecast is a soggy one for Saturday's game.  The weatherman calls for a high of 19 degrees Celsius (66 above Fahrenheit) and a 70% chance of showers.  I have no idea how many tickets have been sold for the match however given the fact it's a Saturday night home game, you've got to think Mosaic Stadium will be jammed to capacity.

- The Riders are 6.5-point favourites and the over/under is a modest 51 points.  The Argos trounced the Riders 48-15 at Rogers Centre in Week 2 for their only win of the season.

- Star Rider receiver Chris Getzlaf was ruled out for Saturday's game with a nagging leg injury which he says has "compounded" since the beginning of training camp.  He told reporters on Thursday that the injury is both "mentally and physically frustrating".  With the Argos missing their most dangerous threat Chad Owens, I suppose it's a wash but the Rider offense has been anemic without #89.

- Week 5 in the CFL opened on Thursday with an entertaining showdown in Edmonton between the Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders.  The Stampeders held on for a last-minute 26-22 win which upped their record to 4-0 and will assuredly perch them atop the CFL's Power Rankings next week.  The Eskimos fell to 4-1 but had they gotten out of their own way Thursday night, the game was there for the taking.  TSN's Glen Suitor said at the game's conclusion Edmonton's special teams "let them down" in the first half and a spate of penalties in the second half didn't help the cause.  But that's Calgary.  They're not going to make a mistake or give games away.  In the regular season.

- I shut the TV off as the Stampeders were in the "V"-formation but Twitter was abuzz after the game because Eskimo coach Chris Jones reportedly skipped the postgame handshake with Calgary's John Hufnagel.  Boys will be boys.

- Week 5 continues Friday evening with the BC Lions home to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a game which has the Lions favoured by a whopping 8-points.  BC's Kevin Glenn will make his 159th career start at quarterback and has a 7-6 career mark against Winnipeg.

- Drew Willy gets the start for Winnipeg and he has a career record of 4-4 as a starter.  Drew has been sacked 14 times since Week 1 which is the most by a quarterback in the CFL this year.  I didn't think he'd survive this long.

- One more: BC coach Mike Benevides has a record of 26-14 and CFL Game Notes say he's never gone into a game with a career record below .500.

- Happy Geroy Simon Day!  That's the proclamation in Vancouver on Friday but we may as well observe the holiday as well since he's drawing paycheques from the Roughriders.  Geroy will be properly feted in Vancouver today and will be added to the Lions' hallowed Ring of Honour at halftime.  The whole situation seems strange and the Vancouver Province called Geroy's relationship with the Lions "strained" in Friday's edition.  Writer Ed Willes went so far as to call the current scenario "awkward".  Either way, this gesture by the BC franchise is admirable and noble and it promises to be a great night.  Lions President Dennis Skulsky said Thursday there will be a position for Simon waiting within the organization somewhere down the line.  After watching video of Geroy's glory days, he certainly made it look easy.

- Speaking of former great Rider receivers, we got a live report from Kansas City Chiefs camp on Thursday's SportsCage and our reporter Tim Walker in K.C. said Weston was working at wide receiver and on punt returns.  He reported that several spectacular catches by Dressler drew several cheers from the crowd which, reportedly, is rare.  I was smiling on the outside while listening to the report, but crying on the inside.  Here are some of Tim's outstanding photos.  I've never met him before, but out of the goodness of his heart he called up our show to give a great update and then forwarded these pics last night:





- This is Peter King-style stuff!  Thanks Tim.

- With Dressler gone, there's no clear cut number-one jersey seller for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.  Rider Store staff tell me it's a toss-up between Durant and Getzlaf for the top seller right now.  The topic came up when the NFL reported this week Cleveland quarterback Johnny Manziel has the #1-selling jersey in that league early on this season.  Behind Manziel are Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Peyton Manning, Richard Sherman and Michael Sam according to NFLshop.com and Dick's Sporting Goods.

- A search for news on Kory Sheets' progress at Oakland Raiders camp turned up crickets.

- Meanwhile the Riders remain in search of a trusted tailback to replace Sheets and here's a guess that all of Will Ford, Jerome Messam and Anthony Allen will be on the roster for Saturday's game against the Argonauts.  Rookie Keith Toston remains in the shadows by Coach Chamblin said on Thursday that it's not a "negative thing" with Toston.  Chamblin said Toston's done nothing wrong and will get his opportunity at some point.  I got flamed by some fans this week for saying it's a "Coach's Decision" but not elaborating as to why.  It's not arrogance or "waving it in the fans' face" as some people have put it.  It's simply covering my butt.  Unfortunately fans don't have the right to know everything that's going on with the team.  And in this case, it's nothing inflammatory nor salacious.

- We had an interesting chat with Riders Defensive Coordinator Richie Hall on CKRM's Coaches Show this week.  I noted that Richie always finds a quiet corner of the press box to seemingly meditate just prior to kickoff at all home games.  "Pint" said he takes that time to say a little prayer and clear his mind for the match ahead.  At halftime Richie and fellow assistants sprint down the ramps, dodging fans, to get into the locker room at halftime before returning before the second half kickoff.  He smiled and said he gets "plenty of wisdom and advice" from the fans as he runs by.

Bradwell
- Argonauts receiver Mike Bradwell could be a target of the east side fans on Saturday after telling the Toronto Star the Riders have the second worst jerseys in the CFL.  "I'm not a huge green guy," Bradwell said.  "I'm not a huge fan of their jerseys.  Saskatchewan is second worst."  Of course Bradwell, a model in the off-season, put the Argos at #1 and the Ticats at #9.

- Week 5 continues on Saturday with the Ottawa RedBlacks taking on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at McMaster University in Hamilton.  Ottawa pivot Henry Burris may have revenge on his mind after having a can tied to him by the Ticats last winter.  Regarding seeing the Ticats lose, Burris told reporters, "It wasn't sad.  It was good to see them lose because they're an eastern opponent."

- Hamilton Spectator reporter Drew Edwards wrote this week "Life with (Ticats coach and GM) Kent Austin when he's losing is categorically awful".

- The hot topic around Regina these days, amongst hockey people anyways, is the still vacant head coaching job with the Regina Pats.  We've heard the names Trent Cassan, John Torchetti, David Struch, Lorne Molleken, Mike Sillinger and Jamie Heward being tossed around for months.  The next head coach could be one of those names, or none of them.

- Mike Rooney's Western Prospects Development Camp went this week at Regina's Cooperators Centre for the top draft-eligible bantam hockey players in western Canada and the western USA.  Evaluators tell me Lloydminster defenceman Ty Smith was the top-rated player while Lucas Sillinger, son of Mike, was in the Top 10.

- Great news to hear hockey maven Barry Trapp will be scouting for the Regina Pats this winter.  "Trapper" will be scouting Arizona, Texas and California for the team he once coaches.  Wonder if he needs a navigator?

- The Regina Pats are hiring a Director of Ticket Sales.  Interested parties should email Cliff Mapes at cmapes@reginapats.com with a resume and salary expectations.
C-Bear and me at Currie Field

- Kudos to WHL fan favourite Rocky Thompson for landing a job with the Edmonton Oilers as assistant coach this week.  The former Medicine Hat Tigers tough guy spent the past four years as an assistant with the Oklahoma City Barons.  The 36-year old Cree from Whitecourt, AB is 12 years out of the NHL, having played 25 games in "The Show".

- Your division-leading Regina Red Sox are home Friday evening to the Weyburn Beavers at Currie Field.  First pitch is 7:05.  It appears there will be playoff baseball once again in the Queen City thanks to the magic of skipper Scottie Douglas.  Tuesday evening was "CKRM Night" at the ballpark and we had a wonderful time with my family down in the Bullpen.

- Incidentally Saturday is Rider Pride Day at Currie Field with the start time being moved up to 4:00 pm to accommodate the Rider game.  All fans wearing Green & White will receive half off their gate admission!

THAT'S ALL FOR TODAY! HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND AND GO RIDERS!
RP
@sportscage

Thursday, July 24, 2014

STAMPEDERS 26 ESKIMOS 22


EDMONTON - Bo Levi Mitchell isn't interested in tying or surpassing any personal records. He just wants his team to win.

The Stampeders quarterback threw for 124 yards and a touchdown on Thursday night to improve to 7-0 as a CFL starter and help Calgary edge the Edmonton Eskimos 26-22.

Rene Paredes nailed four field goals as the Stampeders improved to 4-0 on the season. Mitchell, meanwhile, tied former Stampeder Jeff Garcia's league record for best career start.

But after the game, Mitchell downplayed the accomplishment.

"It's not a record that people even keep track of, I'm surprised people even keep it,'' he said. "I'm excited to be undefeated, but I'm more excited our team is playing well and that we are undefeated. I'll try to keep that record intact as long as I can, but a loss is going to come at some point.''

Edmonton was guilty of a couple of major gaffes in the game, including the questionable decision to try and run a fake punt out of the end zone late in the second quarter, a failed effort which led directly to a costly Calgary touchdown.

"I was surprised they did that,'' said Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel. "We were very fortunate to be able to stop that by inches. It was a big play of the game since we scored on the next play. This is the type of game where a head coach has to make decisions to try and help their team win. I went for a third-and-one and was stopped. You have to take those chances and just hope that they are executed.

"We're struggling offensively, but we are still winning. We need to get better and hopefully we will get better.''

The Eskimos dropped to 4-1 on the year, missing out on a chance to surpass the total number of wins they had in a disappointing 4-14 campaign in 2013.

"You'd like to win them all, you'd like to go 18-0 and then win two more in the playoffs,'' said Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly, who threw for 212 yards with one TD and one interception. "But the reality is that's not going to happen, so you try to learn from these experiences.

"This is a good football team that we played against. They've got the best record in the league now, but we also learned that if we do a few things better, we could win that football game.''

Edmonton's defence was forced to come up big early as Eskimos punt returner Jamal Miles coughed up the ball just over a minute into the game on his own 27-yard line. That was as close as Calgary got, however, as they were held to a 36-yard Paredes field goal.

The Eskimos came right back on their next possession with a 31-yard Grant Shaw field goal to tie it 3-3.

Calgary came up with another big special teams play with six minutes remaining in the first quarter as Keenan MacDougall blocked a Shaw punt deep in the Edmonton zone and was able to pick it up and ramble the remaining six yards into the end zone to put the Stampeders up 10-3.

"I kind of went through untouched,'' MacDougall said. "I had a nice bounce into my hands after a couple of other bounces.''

Pat White replaced Mike Reilly at quarterback to start the second quarter and instantly drew a pass interference call on an end zone pass. He would then take it in from the one-yard line to knot the game back up. It was White's first CFL touchdown.

Edmonton looked to have surged in front two minutes later on a 59-yard passing play from Reilly to Fred Stamps, however the play was called back on a holding infraction.

The defensive battle continued as Fred Bennett picked off a Reilly pass at the Edmonton 45, eventually leading to a 36-yard Paredes field goal.

The Eskimos responded with a 40-yarder from Shaw.

Edmonton tried a fake punt with 24 seconds remaining as defensive back Aaron Grymes took off with the ball from his own end zone. It was a costly risk, however, as he was stopped just short of the first down, leading to a 16-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell to Jeff Fuller and a 20-13 Calgary lead at the half.

The Eskimos atoned for the miscue six-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter as they stopped the Stamps on a third down gamble at the Calgary 32-yard line. The next play Reilly was able to pass to a wide-open Shamawd Chambers for the touchdown to tie it once again.

Calgary regained the lead in the pouring rain with just over a minute remaining in the third frame on a 29-yard Paredes field goal and then benefited from a bevy of Edmonton penalties to make it 26-20 six minutes into the fourth quarter on a 30-yarder from their kicker.

Edmonton had a chance for an easy first down with one-and-a-half minutes down, but instead of driving it the inches necessary, tried a passing play only to see Reilly get sacked to force a punt.

Calgary gave up a safety with 44 seconds left to run some time off the clock and put Edmonton on their own 35. The move allowed the Stamps to run out the clock from there.

The Stampeders return home to face the B.C. Lions next Friday. Edmonton has a bye week before starting a two-game road swing in Montreal on Aug. 8.

Notes: The last time the Eskimos were able to come away with a win against their provincial rivals was on Sept. 5, 2011. Calgary came into the game with eight wins in a row over Edmonton in the head-to-head match-ups. The Stampeders were without reigning CFL Most Outstanding Player Jon Cornish, who was placed on the six-game injured list with concussion symptoms. Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt missed his fourth game this season. Calgary came into the game having allowed just three sacks this season, while Edmonton's defence led the league with 18. The Stamps entered the match-up having surrendered a CFL-low 10 points a game, and just one touchdown, compared to the 14.5 scored against the Eskimos. Fans were just as interested in the 50/50 draw as they were the game. In their last home game against Ottawa, the jackpot of $71,732 went unclaimed and carried over to the game against Calgary. The potential for a big draw ignited a frenzy, as fans endured long lines to get a crack at the pot, which ended up at an astounding and record-setting $348,534. Because of the heavy demand, the draw couldn't be announced at the game. Instead plans were in place to announce it on the team website. ... The attendance for the game was a league season-high 40,066.

CFL THIS WEEK

CALGARY AT EDMONTON - 7 PM TONIGHT

Another week, another big test for Mike Reilly and the surprising Edmonton Eskimos.

Last weekend, Reilly and Co., faced the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a battle of 3-0 clubs. Reilly threw for 192 yards and a TD and added a game-high 96 yards rushing while the Eskimos defence recorded five sacks en route to a convincing 26-3 victory.

The Eskimos (4-0) will host their arch rivals, the Calgary Stampeders (3-0), on Thursday night as the Battle of Alberta becomes a showdown between the CFL's lone two remaining undefeated squads. Not bad for an Edmonton team that won just four games last year.

Reilly has played a big role in Edmonton's transformation. The second-year starter is third overall in passing yards (930) but has completed a solid 65.5 per cent of his passes and thrown a league-best eight touchdowns. He's also a dual threat, standing sixth overall in rushing with a team-leading 199 yards and is averaging 8.3 yards per attempt.

However Reilly will have to share the spotlight with Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who is on a CFL record pace.

A win would be Mitchell's seventh straight to begin his CFL career, which would tie the league mark currently held by former Stampeders star Jeff Garcia. The third-year pro has been solid for Calgary, having thrown for 781 yards with six TDs against no interceptions, joining Ottawa's Henry Burris as the only league starters not to have been picked off.

Mitchell also sports the CFL's top efficiency rating of 116.2.

Reilly and Mitchell are also surrounded by a solid supporting cast. Edmonton and Calgary are both averaging over 100 yards rushing per game - an impressive accomplishment for the Stampeders considering they'll again be minus CFL MVP Jon Cornish (concussion).

Calgary has also done a solid job of protecting Mitchell, allowing a league-low three sacks.

Edmonton counters with a defence that's recorded a league-best 18 sacks, not a surprise given rookie head coach Chris Jones' reputation for being innovative in how he designs and disguises his pressure packages. The Eskimos have also recorded a CFL-leading nine interceptions, six more than their closest rival.

But Calgary's defence isn't exactly chopped liver, either. It's first overall in fewest points allowed (10 per game), touchdowns (one), rushing yards (71 per game), is tied with B.C. and Toronto for fewest rushing TDs (one) and hasn't surrendered a passing touchdown this season.

And although the Stampeders have 10 sacks - which leaves them tied for sixth overall with expansion Ottawa - they do still have Charleston Hughes, who posed a league-leading 18 sacks last year.

Calgary has dominated the series of late, having amassed a 15-5 head-to-head record dating back to '08, although 11 contests have been decided in the final three minutes. Here's expecting that trend to continue.

Prediction - Calgary.
______________________________

WINNIPEG AT BC - 8:00 PM FRIDAY

Winnipeg (3-1) received a huge wakeup call last weekend. Its defence was on the field for almost 39 minutes against Edmonton, which kept the CFL's top-scoring offence on the sidelines for most of the contest. Defensive back Johnny Sears and defensive lineman Jason Vega are doubtful although receiver Aaron Kelly resumed practising after missing the game against Edmonton with a knee injury.

The Bombers surrendered five sacks versus Edmonton and face a resurgent B.C. squad (2-2) that's won two straight and looked very good doing so. Quarterback Kevin Glenn, who threw six interceptions in the Lions' opening two losses, passed for 301 yards and two TDs in last week's 41-5 win over Montreal. Emmanuel Arceneaux had eight catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns while Stefan Logan and Andrew Harris added 74 and 72 yards rushing, respectively. On July 12, Harris accumulated 203 offensive yards in a 26-13 win over Saskatchewan 26-13. At halftime, B.C. will add Geroy Simon, the most prolific receiver in CFL history, to its Ring of Honour.

Prediction - B.C.
__________________________________

OTTAWA AT HAMILTON - 5 PM SATURDAY

Brett Maher booted six field goals, including the winner, as the expansion Redblacks (1-2) won their home opener 18-17 over the Toronto Argonauts. It marked Ottawa's first CFL home victory since November 2005 and moved the club into a tie with Toronto (1-3) and Montreal (1-3) atop the East Division. But that doesn't mask Ottawa's offensive struggles this season as it's averaging just 19 points per game. The unit has scored just four TDs and didn't find the end zone against Toronto.

However, a good equalizer could be quarterback Henry Burris, who led Hamilton to a Grey Cup appearance last year before being released this off-season. Hamilton (0-3) hasn't set the CFL on fire offensively in Burris's absence, currently ranked last in offensive yards (213.3 per game) and scoring (13.7 points). But the Ticats were a mishandled snap away from kicking the tying field goal last week against Calgary before ultimately dropping a 10-7 decision. Starter Zach Collaros (concussion) resumed practising this week but won't play. Hamilton was supposed to officially open Tim Hortons Field but will play at McMaster University due to construction delays.

Prediction - Hamilton
_____________________________________

TORONTO AT SASKATCHEWAN - 8 PM SATURDAY

On July 5, Toronto (1-3) hammered Saskatchewan (1-2) at Rogers Centre 48-15. Argos quarterback Ricky Ray threw for over 400 yards and three TDs that afternoon. Twenty of his 29 completions were to Chad Owens (11), Andre Durie (five) and Jason Barnes (four) for a combined 275 yards and two touchdowns. That's worth noting because all three receivers are injured and won't play.

Ray remains the CFL passing leader with 1,280 yards after throwing for 298 yards last week in Ottawa but had more interceptions (first two of the season) than TD strikes (one). It's been a miserable start to the year for defending Grey Cup champion Saskatchewan as quarterback Darian Durant has a 55.3 per cent completion average with almost as many interceptions (four) as touchdowns (five). But Durant and Co. will remember what happened the last time they faced Toronto, and this time they will have a loud Mosaic Stadium gathering solidly behind them.

Prediction - Saskatchewan.

Record so far: 7-9

(Canadian Press)

TOSTON BIDING HIS TIME

The 1-2 Saskatchewan Roughriders held Day 2 of their practice week on Wednesday as they prepare to host the 1-3 Toronto Argonauts on Saturday at Mosaic Stadium (8:00 pm, TSN, CKRM Rider Radio Network).  The team rotated through running backs Anthony Allen, Will Ford and Jerome Messam on Wednesday while first year back Keith Toston ran with the scout team.

Toston (pronounced TOAST-In) was arguably the Riders' most productive running back in the preseason but hasn't had a chance to play in the regular season.  He was asked how the running back "carousel" affects the team.

"It don't affect a whole lot," Toston explained.  "Most of the guys are like brothers when it comes to the running back group so we just try to stick together.  Whoever gets the reps, we just try to cheer that guy on.  We all go through the same amount of sweat and same amount of pain to be in this position to try to play.  We won't have a rivalry against a teammate."

The Oklahoma State product was asked his thoughts on the team's starting running backs being benched, or cut, after fumbling the ball away.

"That's a tough deal," Toston admitted.  "I've disagreed with that since I got into professional football.  But that's the nature of the business - you can't turn the ball over.  That's understandable.  You train so hard, and by just one mess up, you could be over there watching the game.  But I can see both sides of it."

I told Allen I was impressed that he came back after the bye week since he hasn't had the opportunity yet to show what he can do.  He had considered leaving in the past, but has decided to keep his dream alive and didn't consider staying in the U.S. last week.

"No," Toston revealed.  "I feel like my coaches and teammates see me practice hard every time we're out here so I feel like I should be here and I still am here.  I'm just waiting for my chance, that's it.  When I get my chance, I'll make the best of it."

Toston stood in the media scrum and handled the pointed questions with class.  Rider Radio analyst Carm Carteri asked Keith how it felt to see veterans Hugh Charles and Jerome Messam come in and be placed on the roster immediately while he sits in the shadows.

"That's tough," Toston continued.  "But I understand our number one thing here is to try to win a game.  I respect it and I'll just keep pushing to get an opportunity."

The Riders aren't tipping their hand as to who will start in the backfield on Saturday.  Head coach Corey Chamblin says their evaluations continue ahead of the game.

"I think every back that was out there got a touch today," Chamblin said after the workout.  "As we go down the stretch we have to make sure that more than one guy can play.  I really can't tell you who'll start and that's an honest opinion.  Those guys are doing a good job rotating through and it depends on how we end up liking our packages and different things."

Meanwhile slotback Chris Getzlaf missed the practice as he continues to recover from a lower body injury.  His status for Saturday's game is uncertain.

HIGH HOPES FOR TRESTMAN'S BEARS

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) - Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery understands expectations are soaring. He's not backing away from them, either.

The Bears are aiming high, hoping to return to the playoffs after missing out for the sixth time in seven years, going into their third training camp under Emery. Practices start Friday.

"Our goal as an organization is to win championships,'' Emery said Wednesday. "We have fallen short since I've been here. That doesn't mean we're going to change our goal. That's what we're focused on. We're very aggressive toward attaining that goal and we're very accountable as an organization to make the necessary adjustments to stay on path toward our goal.''

That will hinge largely on how a rebuilt defence that now includes five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen comes together. The Bears couldn't stop anyone last season, and it added up to an 8-8 record and a spot in front of the TV when the post-season started.

Now, they anticipate bigger things.

They see a defence with star power and depth after bringing in Allen. And they see an offence that excelled in its first year under coach Marc Trestman returning all its starters. And they see no reason not to aim high, not to think they can overtake Green Bay in the NFC North and advance in the post-season.

That's not to say Emery is ready to plan the championship parade just yet.

There still are some holes at linebacker and safety, and if quarterback Jay Cutler gets injured again, the Bears won't have Josh McCown to turn to this time. What they do have, however, looks promising.

"We recognize as a football team, the excitement around our team, the community's excitement around our football team and what I (describe) as the noise that goes on around us,'' Trestman said. "For us here in Bourbonnais, we've got to stay focused on the process. We've got to keep our feet on the ground.''

The Bears return all their starters from an offence that ranked among the most prolific a year ago. Only Denver scored more points last season, and with Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte leading the way, Chicago appears to be in good shape on that side of the ball.

The backup quarterback spot is a question mark with McCown now in Tampa Bay and Jordan Palmer trying to hold off Jimmy Clausen and David Fales. The same goes for backup running back, a spot that Emery said is "very unsettled.''

The big question is the defence, which ranked 30th overall last season. Allen, linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman are all in their 30s.

The safety spot is a big concern after Chris Conte and the departed Major Wright struggled last season. Briggs aside, linebacker remains a question mark for the Bears.

But if the rebuilt line can apply pressure and stop the run, it will take the load off the other parts of the defence. That starts with Allen, who replaces the departed Julius Peppers. The Bears are counting on him to ignite a non-existent pass rush after tying Jacksonville with a league-low 31 sacks. Chicago also ranked last against the run.

But that defence has a decidedly different look now. Besides Allen, they brought in defensive end Lamarr Houston and added to their secondary, drafting cornerback Kyle Fuller in the first round and adding Adrian Wilson, Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings to the mix at safety.

All those moves sent expectations soaring.

"We try not to let it affect us,'' Cutler said. "But obviously being out in the city and being around people you can tell how excited they are, how ready they are for this season. We can't let that kind of seep into our mindset. We haven't done anything yet. We've got to take this camp seriously and get out of it as much as we can.''

NOTES: Emery said RG Kyle Long has a viral infection and won't be ready for the start of practices on Friday and will be re-evaluated next week. LG Matt Slauson (shoulder surgery) and RT Jordan Mills (broken foot) are cleared, and S Craig Steltz, who had groin surgery, is expected to be ready for the first practice. Emery also said Conte, coming off shoulder surgery, will not start practicing until after the first preseason game.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

CKRM'S WEEK 5 CFL PICKS 2014

SCHEDULE
Thursday:
Calgary at Edmonton

Friday:
Winnipeg at BC

Saturday:
Ottawa at Hamilton
Toronto at Saskatchewan

ANNCR/RECORD/PICKS
BALLSY (12-4): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
SILVER FOX (11-5): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
SCRUFFY (11-5): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
SHARKY (10-6): CGY - BC - OTT - SK
ABOU (9-7): CGY - WPG - HAM - SK
SAM (9-7): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
PHIL (9-7): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
LUC (8-8): CGY - WPG - HAM - SK
R.P. (8-8): EDM - BC - OTT - SK
LYNCH (8-8): TBD
SCHULTZ (8-8): EDM - BC - HAM - SK
CARM (7-9): CGY - BC - OTT - SK
COIN (7-9): CGY - WPG - OTT - SK

*Winner gets a $100 gift certificate to the Press Box Sports Bar!




CFL WEEK 4 DISCIPLINE

TORONTO – The Canadian Football League announced today that it has fined the following players:

Ottawa REDBLACKS fullback Patrick Lavoie for a late hit in which he led with his helmet on a punt return during Friday night’s game against the Toronto Argonauts.

Edmonton Eskimo defensive end Elie Ngoyi for punching an opponent during Thursday night’s game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

BC Lions defensive end Khreem Smith for his participation in a pre-game altercation with an opposing player prior to Saturday’s game against the Montreal Alouettes.

As per league policy, the amounts of the fines were not disclosed.

BLADES SHUFFLE STAFF

The Saskatoon Blades look to be going on a powerplay after changes to their scouting system.

Veteran leader Doug Molleken, 54, has signed a two year extension and will direct his focus on Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the United States as Director of Scouting, Eastern Region. The long-time head scout for the Blades will be surrounded by a few of his old birddogs and a lot of new talent.

Doug's partner will be Dan Tencer, 28, promoted from regional scout to Director of Scouting, Western Region, responsible for Alberta and British Columbia. Before coming to the Blades in 2013, Tencer was the host of the Edmonton Oilers Radio Network and Inside Sports for 7 years on Corus Radio, where he still co-hosts a radio show.

Both men will report directly to Managing Partner Colin Priestner, who will oversee the bantam and European drafts, working closely with General Manager Bob Woods and Assistant General Manager Steve "Hilty" Hildebrand.

This trio has already demonstrated its effectiveness working together with what independent observers noted was an impressive performance at the 2014 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft. The three were point men at the Blades draft table, selecting a total of 12 players. After the last name was called, the influential Western Elite Hockey Prospects group was quick to applaud the Blades' performance, stating, "The Saskatoon Blades didn't have a first round selection this year but that didn't stop them from having one of the top drafts."

"The amount of scouting, research and conversations those three led put the Blades in a great position heading into that draft. Their work, combined with the reporting of our other scouts, led to the success we realized at the draft," says Blades President Steve Hogle, who was eyewitness to both the work leading up to the draft as well as the decisions made at the draft table.

"This structure for scouting puts the organization in a great position for years to come," adds GM Bob Woods. "Their passion is unrivalled, their organization is impressive and their talent is evident in the results."

Highly respected Saskatoon-based scout Frank Dryka and Winnipeg's Scott Unger are both back with the Blades and they are joined by a number of new scouts, each with impressive resumes.

"The quality of our people is absolutely stellar and they've already shown their input is outstanding. We're also going to employ cutting edge systems with the view to use another weapon to gain the edge on the competition," adds Managing Partner Colin Priestner. "We are out for more than respect. We are out to win."



RIDER TRANSACTIONS

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have added the following players:
 
· International defensive back Woodny Turenne
· National defensive back Matt Webster

CORNISH TO SIX GAME INJURY LIST

The Calgary Stampeders have placed national running back Jon Cornish on the six-game injury list. The reigning Most Outstanding Player in the Canadian Football League has been out of action since suffering a concussion in a Week 1 victory over the Montreal Alouettes.
 
Cornish would be eligible to return on Sept. 6 when the Stamps play in Edmonton although the team has the right to activate him prior to that date if the situation allows.
 
"Jon continues to make progress in his recovery but we understand the importance of being extremely careful with this type of injury and we want to make sure Jon has all the time he needs to get completely healthy," said Stampeders general manager and head coach John Hufnagel. "We look forward to having Jon back in the lineup and, in the meantime, other players have stepped up in his absence. I'm confident that will continue to be the case."

THE WEDNESDAY THRILLER ... WITH PHIL ANDREWS

Voice of the Pats Phil Andrews
I'm on a boat in Northern Saskatchewan catching Jack and Pickerel but here are some thoughts on this Wednesday:

- I am crossing my fingers that the Pats won't announce their new head coach this week when I'm gone. However knowing my luck the announcement will come in the next few days.

- Former Head Coach Malcolm Cameron has joined the coaching staff of the Okanagan Hockey Academy. Here is the article on his hire. http://okanaganhockey.com/about/news/cameron-joins-oha-staff/

- Pats forward Dryden Hunt is headed to the Carolina Hurricanes Development Camp later this week. I've heard he also had an invite from Calgary but decided to go with the Canes.

- Four terrible games in the CFL this last weekend. Edmonton clobbered Winnipeg on Thursday, no contest. Then Ottawa's home opener against Toronto Friday was a snoozefest. At least the atmosphere seemed good in the nation's capital. Calgary beat Hamilton 10-7 on Friday and the score is self explanatory. And to cap it all off, Montreal was atrocious in BC losing 41-5. The only good game we've seen in the last two weeks is Winnipeg's comeback win over Montreal. I know the start of the year is usually sub-par but I don't remember it ever being this bad. Bring on the NFL. Here's hoping it gets better in Week 5.

- Dwight Anderson is coming back to Regina on Saturday. Should be fun to see how he carries himself on and off the field.

- The Blue Jays got spanked on Monday at home to Boston. Drew Hutchison should not pitch at Rogers Centre. He is 2-5 at home plus a no decisions. He is 4 and 4 on the road and his ERA is light years better. At least they bounced back with a big 7-3 win on Tuesday. I've still got hope for the post season. Would love to see a starting pitcher come over in a trade. Plus they need to get healthy.

- The East Division leading Regina Red Sox have clinched a playoff spot. Congrats to Scottie Douglas and the team. Well done.

- Stanley Cup Champion with the Los Angeles Kings, Jarret Stoll will be bringing the cup to Saskatoon in early August. Here's the info:


That's it from me today. Have a good week.

Phil
@PhilTheThrill18

SINITSYN HEADS HOME

Regina, Saskatchewan – Regina Pats Senior VP and General Manager Chad Lang announced Pats import defenceman Dmitry Sinitsyn has signed a professional contract with the KHL’s Dynamo Moscow.

Sinitsyn was the Pats’ 16th Overall selection in the 2013 CHL Import Draft and played his first WHL season in 2013-14.  The Moscow, RUS product suited up for 69 games while posting 44 points (10G, 34A) to lead the Pats defence in scoring over his rookie campaign.  His 44 points were tenth among WHL rookies and third among rookie defenders.  That performance led the Pats defender to be named the Pats’ Rookie of the Year.

Drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars, Sinitsyn attended Dallas’ Development Camp in Frisco, TX July 9th-12th.

Including Sinitsyn, the Pats currently have three import players on their roster with the other two slots being held by German forward Maximilian Kammerer and Russian defender Sergey Zborovsky.

WEEK 4 CFL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

TORONTO - B.C. Lions running back Andrew Harris is the CFL's top Canadian for the second week in a row while teammate Emmanuel Arceneaux is the league's top offensive player of the week.

The pair were consistently dangerous in the Lions' decisive 41-5 win over Montreal on Saturday. Arceneaux caught eight receptions for 145 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, while Winnipeg native Harris had four receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown and 12 carries for 72 yards.

Harris currently is the league leader in rushing yards with 273 yards, sits third in the league in receiving yards with 245 and is tied for second in the league with three touchdowns.

Edmonton defensive end Odell Willis is the defensive player of the week. He recorded his first career interception and returned it for his first career touchdown in the Eskimos' 26-3 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday. He also had two tackles, including a sack.

Ottawa Redblacks kicker and punter Brett Maher is the special teams player of the week. Maher hit a 27-yard field goal with under a minute to play in the game as the Redblacks earned their first franchise win, beating the Toronto Argonauts 18-17 on Friday.

Maher also kicked field goals from 48, 32, 30, 26 and 22 yards.