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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

CFL WEEK 4 TRENDS


ROAD WARRIORS: Home field has been anything but an advantage in the CFL so far this season.

Through three weeks, the visiting team has posted an 8-3-1 record.

That trend continued this past weekend with both Winnipeg and Toronto winning road games. The Blue Bombers defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 28-24 on Thursday night while the Argos beat B.C. 25-14 in Vancouver, knocking the Lions (2-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Toronto (1-2) and Ottawa (2-0-1) have both been road warriors, sporting 2-0 records away from home. Meanwhile, Hamilton is 0-2 at Tim Hortons Field.

Road teams have outscored their opponents 350-263 and their margin of victory has been by 13.25 points per game.

B.C., Calgary and Edmonton are the lone teams to win home games this season.

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COLLAROS PRACTISING: Quarterback Zach Collaros is back practising with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Ticats removed Collaros from the six-game injured list Monday, clearing the way for him to return to the practice field with his teammates. The 27-year-old American has been sidelined since last suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament last September in a game versus the Edmonton Eskimos.

At the time of the injury, Hamilton was 8-3 and Collaros was leading the league in passing yards (3,376), touchdowns (25) and passer rating (113.7) with an impressive 70.2 completion percentage. The Ticats finished the regular season at 10-8 and reached the East Division final before losing to Ottawa.

Collaros signed a new contract with Hamilton last month through the 2018 season. There's no timetable for his return to the lineup.

Backup Jeremiah Masoli will again start Friday when Hamilton (1-2) visits the Montreal Alouettes. Masoli is the CFL's third-ranked passer with 933 yards and has also thrown five TDs but has been intercepted a league-high four times.

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DYNAMIC DUO: It hasn't taken Trevor Harris and Chris Williams long to gel together.

Harris tops the CFL in passing yards (1,083) and touchdowns (nine) while Williams is its leading receiver with 25 catches for 493 yards and six TDs. They're a big reason while Ottawa (2-0-1) sports the league's top-ranked offence.

The Redblacks lead the CFL in total yards (520 per game), passing yards (444.7), yards per play (eight) and first downs (26.3) while standing second in scoring (33 points) and yards rushing (105). But even more impressive is the defending East Division champions have converted a league-best 47-of-77 second-down opportunities (61 per cent).

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PLOEN HONOURED: The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will add quarterback Ken Ploen to their Ring of Honour prior Thursday night's home game against the Edmonton Eskimos. Ploen will be the second player to receiver the honour after offensive lineman Chris Walby.

Ploen spent 11 seasons with Winnipeg (1957-67), leading the club to four Grey Cup titles (1958, '59, '61 and '62). Ploen was named the MVP of the 1961 CFL championship contest, his 18-yard TD run on a broken play in overtime clinching the Bombers a 21-14 win over Hamilton at Toronto's CNE Stadium.

Ploen, 81, played collegiately at Iowa and was the MVP of the 1957 Rose Bowl after leading the Hawkeyes past Oregon State 35-19. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1975 and is also a member of the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, Rose Bowl Hall of Fame and Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.

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GREGORY HIRED: John Gregory has a new football post.

The former Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach was recently named the first commissioner of the Arena Development League, an indoor football circuit that has no affiliation with either Arena Football League or Indoor Football League.

The ADL plans to begin play in March with the mandate of developing players for the AFL, CFL and NFL.

Gregory, 77, began his CFL coaching career as an assistant with Winnipeg (1983-'87) before becoming Saskatchewan's head coach in 1987. Gregory led the Riders to a Grey Cup title in 1989 and was named the league's top coach that season but was fired in 1991 following a 1-6 start to the season.

He joined the Ticats later that season but was let go in 1994 after a 1-5 start. Over nine seasons as a CFL head coach, Gregory compiled 61-82-1 regular-season record but was 5-4 in the playoffs.

Gregory also served as a head coach in the AFL and af2 (the AFL's development league), combining for an overall 117-90 regular-season record. He led Iowa to two ArenaBowl appearances and was twice the AFL's coach of the year. Gregory also coached former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner while with the Barnstormers.

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THIS 'N THAT: Receiver Rashaun Simonise of the University of Calgary was scheduled to hold his pro day at McMahon Stadium later Monday leading up to the NFL supplemental draft July 14. The six-foot-five, 190-pound Vancouver native had 51 catches for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns in eight games last season but was ruled academically ineligible for the 2016 campaign. Thirteen NFL clubs confirmed their presence to watch Simonise - a top prospect for the '17 CFL draft - work out. Since 2000, only 12 players have been taken in the supplemental draft . . . The 26-26 tie Friday night between Ottawa and Calgary was the first in the CFL since 2009 when the Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders played to a 44-44 deadlock. Still, the Redblacks (2-0-1) remain the league's lone unbeaten team heading into Wednesday night's game in Toronto . . . It's becoming a season to forget for Edmonton linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis. He's out 12-to-16 weeks with a torn right bicep suffered in Friday night's 39-36 overtime win over Saskatchewan. Hoffman-Ellis signed as a free agent with Hamilton this off-season but didn't play once the regular season began and was traded to the Eskimos last week for a conditional 2018 eighth-round pick.

(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)

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