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Thursday, June 25, 2015

CFL THIS WEEK

OTTAWA at MONTREAL, 5:30 pm Thursday

At Montreal, the Redblacks look to improve upon the two wins they earned in their inaugural season. GM Marcel Desjardins shored up the offence with five new receivers, including Chris Williams (CFL's top rookie in '11, top special-teams player in '12) and Maurice Price (trade, Calgary). Montreal opened 1-7 last year, then went 8-2 with starter Jonathan Crompton before losing 40-24 to Hamilton in the East final. Crompton returns but leading receiver Duron Carter is now an Indianapolis Colt.

Prediction: Montreal

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HAMILTON at CALGARY, 7:00 pm Friday

At Calgary, a Grey Cup rematch after the Stampeders beat the Tiger-Cats 20-16 at B.C. Place last November. Hamilton returns 22-of-24 starters from last year's squad, including second-year starting quarterback Zach Collaros. The only missing defensive starter is a big one, all-star cornerback Delvin Breaux, who signed as a free agent this off-season with the New Orleans Saints. Brandon Banks, whose punt return TD late in the Grey Cup was nullified by penalty, is a threat to score with every kick he handles. Calgary starter Bo Levi Mitchell, the Grey Cup MVP, again leads a potent Calgary offence that includes rushing leader Jon Cornish.

Prediction: Calgary.

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EDMONTON at TORONTO, 3:00 pm Saturday

At Fort McMurray, Alta., Toronto is the home team due to scheduling conflicts at Rogers Centre. Trevor Harris opens as the Argos starter with incumbent Ricky Ray (shoulder) on the six-game injured list. Slotback Andre Durie (collarbone) and running back/slotback Anthony Coombs (shoulder) both return after missing much of last year with injuries. Defensive end Ricky Foley, the 100th Grey Cup game's top Canadian, begins his second stint with Toronto. Edmonton's defence was the CFL's stingiest last year while the offence is spearheaded by quarterback Mike Reilly, a threat with both his arm and legs. Adarius Bowman was the league's top receiver last year.

Prediction: Edmonton.

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WINNIPEG at SASKATCHEWAN, 6 pm Saturday

It's been a long road back for Jamel Richardson.

The veteran Roughriders slotback will play his first CFL game in roughly 18 months Saturday night when Saskatchewan hosts the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the season opener for both clubs. Richardson, 33, tore the anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament in his left knee midway through the 2013 season while with Montreal and didn't play last year after being released during training camp by the Alouettes.

"Words cannot even explain it,'' Richardson told reporters earlier this week regarding his long-await return. "I'm very ecstatic.

"I feel like a kid all over again just to come back out here and have an opportunity to show what I can do. I'm going to give the team everything I've got.''

The six-foot-five, 215-pound Richardson began his CFL career with Saskatchewan, playing four seasons there before heading to training camp with the Dallas Cowboys in 2007. Richardson returned to Canada the following season with Montreal.

Richardson enjoyed his best CFL success in Montreal, helping the club win consecutive Grey Cups (2009-10) and being named the MVP of the second championship contest. Richardson had a league-record 12 100-yard games in 2011 when he registered 112 catches for 1,777 yards (tops among receivers) with 11 TDs.

So far, Richardson said he's had no issues with his surgically repaired knee.

"None,'' he said. "(On Saturday), it's all about me just going out there doing my job, playing hard to the whistle.''

The game also marks the return of starter Darian Durant, who led Saskatchewan to an 8-2 record before suffering a season-ending elbow injury. The Riders were 2-7 without Durant, losing 18-10 to Edmonton in the West Division semifinal.

Tino Sunseri, Seth Doege and Kerry Joseph, who all started in Durant's absence last year, are gone as the Riders signed veteran Kevin Glenn as Durant's backup.

Drew Willy begins his second full season as Winnipeg's starter. Willy began his CFL career with Saskatchewan in '12 before signing with the Bombers as a free agent prior to the 2014 campaign.

The six-foot-three, 217-pound Willy completed 63.8 per cent of his passes for 3,769 yards last season but had more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (14). What's more, the Bombers opened the 2014 campaign winning five of their first six games before dropping 10 of their final 12 contests to finish last in the West Division.

Head coach Mike O'Shea also begins his second full season in Winnipeg, which was 2-8 within the West Division last year.

Prediction: Saskatchewan.

(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I suspect Richardson will be used sparingly, or at least in a similar role as Geroy Simon...

Which, of course, would be good news come Grey Cup time... Geroy came through big time on that day!!!

Go Riders!

Kel in Victoria

Anonymous said...

Kory Williams and Nic Demski will be nipping at Rich's heals ...... he better be healthy and ready.

Also, when Dressler is healthy ..... Ryan Smith will be looking for a spot as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm a young 70 year old man, 25 year old health/agility. I could have easily caught those touchdowns 2013 GC $imon. He's getting way too much credit to a overall team/organizational win, the game was in hand no worries. Any other receiving teammate would have also had those contributing scores had their number been called.

Anonymous said...

Of coarse Richardson will be useless because he will be watching the grey cup from the stands with the rest of the playoff less riders because they WILL miss the playoffs lol