Tuesday, January 5, 2016
RIDERS HIRE HOWELL - NICHOLS AND WILLIAMS EXTENDED, SIMPSON RELEASED
Howell joins the Riders after five seasons as a coach with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Howell joined the Bombers as a defensive coach and special-teams assistant in 2011 but also worked as a linebacker coach before becoming a receivers coach in 2012.
Howell spent 11 CFL seasons as a receiver, defensive back and returner with Winnipeg, Ottawa and Calgary. He registered 151 career catches for 2,062 yards and nine touchdowns while returning 77 kickoffs for 1,679 yards and a TD and 246 punts for 2,232 yards and another score.
Howell also had 28 tackles, 21 special-teams tackles, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries - one of which he returned for a touchdown. He also earned a Grey Cup ring in 2008 with Calgary.
WINNIPEG - Matt Nichols believes the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are close to being a CFL contender.
That's primarily why the veteran quarterback re-signed with Winnipeg on Tuesday rather than become a free agent next month.
"I think the makeup is there for this team to be very good and I want to be a part of it,'' Nichols said during a conference call. "We were very close to winning some close games against good teams and easily could have had three, four more wins down the stretch and got ourselves into the playoffs.
"I can see the talent level is there, the passion is there, guys never gave up and that's a team I want to be a part of.''
Winnipeg acquired Nichols from Edmonton in September and he started seven games for the Bombers. Nichols completed 149 of 248 passes for 1,757 yards with 10 touchdowns after throwing for 1,488 yards and eight TDs with the Eskimos.
Winnipeg (5-13) finished fourth in the West Division, four points behind the B.C. Lions (7-11) for the final playoff spot in the division. But the Bombers were 3-3 before starter Drew Willy suffered a season-ending knee injury in a 38-8 loss to Hamilton on Aug. 9.
After Willy's injury, Robert Marve and Brian Brohm both started before Nichols' arrival. The six-foot-two 215-pound Nichols wasted little time making his presence felt with the Bombers, completing 21 of 30 passes for 283 yards and a TD in a 22-7 win over Saskatchewan on Sept. 12 in his debut with the club.
Henry Burris's favourite target is staying with the Ottawa Redblacks.
The Redblacks announced Tuesday they've agreed to a contract extension with the Williams, who was eligible to become a free agent next month. The speedy receiver had 88 catches for 1,214 yards - both team highs - last season, his first in Ottawa after two years in the NFL with New Orleans and Chicago.
"They have a great rapport, on and off the field,'' Ottawa GM Marcel Desjardins said of Burris and Williams. "I think it's important for each of them to have the other there.
"He (Williams) is a difference-maker, he's dynamic. Our offence is going to be the same offence so we wanted to certainly have an impact player like him come back.''
The five-foot-nine 155-pound Williams was one of four 1,000-yard receivers with Ottawa last season in first-year offensive co-ordinator Jason Maas's system. Burris, 40, took full advantage, posting a career-best 70.9 completion percentage and league-high 5,703 passing yards in capturing the CFL's outstanding player award.
Burris and Williams helped Ottawa go 12-6 and finish atop the East Division after winning just twice in its inaugural season. But the Redblacks' dream campaign ended with a 26-20 Grey Cup loss to the Edmonton Eskimos.
CALGARY - The Calgary Stampeders have released veteran middle linebacker Juwan Simpson after eight years with the team.
General manager John Hufnagel said in a statement the move was was made because of "salary-cap considerations and the need to give an opportunity to younger players.''
Simpson has been a Stampeder his entire CFL career and won two Grey Cups with the club. The 31-year-old from Decatur, Ala., played 115 regular-season games and 11 playoff games for Calgary.
The three-time West Division all-star recorded 395 career tackles, 24 sacks, three interceptions and seven forced fumbles.
Simpson was one of the team's vocal leaders and the captain of the defence.
The six-foot-three, 234-pound linebacker missed five games last season with a broken clavicle.
Calgary Stampeders general manager John Hufnagel has hired his son to be the team's director of U.S. scouting.
Cole Hufnagel spent the past nine seasons in various roles with the NFL's New York Jets. He most recently held the position of college area scout for western United States.
Calgary reorganized its football operations staff following the departure of director of player personnel John Murphy for the Saskatchewan Roughriders last month.
Brendan Mahoney from Cochrane, Alta., was named Canadian scout Monday and Edmonton's Kyle Carson will be a scout as well as a football operations co-ordinator.
Mike Petrie returns for his fifth season as assistant general manager.
Hufnagel coached the Stampeders for the last eight seasons. He has stepped aside for Dave Dickenson and will continue in his role as GM of the team in 2016.
"Cole brings a wealth of scouting experience and over the years has developed many contacts south of the border while Brendan and Kyle have both shown that they are deserving of additional responsibilities in football operations,'' Hufnagel said in a statement.
"With head coaching duties having been turned over to Dave Dickenson, I will be able to focus more of my time and efforts on the personnel duties of the general manager's role.''