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Monday, July 4, 2016

WEEK 3 CFL NOTEBOOK

WALLY WORLD:  Defensive back Ryan Phillips calls it the Wally Buono effect.

B.C. is 2-0 following last week's 28-3 road victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Phillips had a fumble recovery and interception in the win, but he feels Buono's return to the sidelines has anchored the Lions' early success.

"You can't teach experience and Wally knows the game, how to execute and get the most from his players,'' said Phillips, in his 12th season with B.C. "But it's also about accountability and discipline and Wally holds a standard week in and week out.

"I can have two, three interceptions in one game but if I'm not upholding that standard and the role he wants me to play ... I know at any time I could be expendable. That accountability is always going to be the standard and at the forefront.''

Buono resumed coaching after Jeff Tedford resigned. Tedford, a former CFL quarterback, compiled a 7-11 record in his only season as B.C.'s head coach following a long, successful NCAA coaching tenure.

"Last year, I remember blowing a lot of fourth-quarter leads,'' Phillips said. "Right now we're learning how to finish games.''

Buono, 66, is no stranger to the CFL coaching ranks. He has the most career wins in league history (256 regular-season wins and counting), has captured a record-tying five Grey Cups and four times been named the league's top coach.

He left coaching after B.C.'s 2011 Grey Cup win to concentrate on his front-office duties as Lions' GM and vice-president of football operations. Phillips, 33, has a long, successful association with Buono dating back to '05.

B.C. hosts Toronto (1-1) on Thursday.

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TRIUMPHANT RETURN:  Linebacker Solomon Elimimian had more to smile about Friday than a convincing 28-3 road win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Elimimian, the CFL's outstanding player in 2014, suffered a career-threatening Achilles tendon injury in Hamilton last August. But on Friday night, the 29-year-old had a team-high six tackles.

"For me it was personal,'' he said. "I wasn't sure if I was ever going to play again but I pushed through it.

"I told myself if God blessed me with an opportunity, I'd make it count.''

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ARGOS DEBUT:  Defensive lineman Shawn Lemon is expected to make his Toronto debut Thursday night when the Argonauts visit the B.C. Lions.

Toronto acquired Lemon and a conditional 2018 draft pick from Saskatchewan on Saturday for offensive lineman Matt Sewell and quarterback Mitchell Gale. Lemon, 27, signed with the Riders as a free agent after helping the Ottawa Redblacks reach last year's Grey Cup.

The six-foot-two, 251-pound Lemon earned a Grey Cup ring with Calgary in 2014. His defensive co-ordinator then was Rich Stubler, who's now running Toronto's defence.

"He's not just going to get a job, he's going to have to earn it,'' Toronto coach Scott Milanovich said. "But we didn't make the trade to watch him sit on the bench.

"I'd expect him to play.''

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O'SHEA ON HOT SEAT:  It hasn't taken Winnipeg fans long to want Mike O'Shea out as Blue Bombers' head coach.

Many called for his dismissal on Twitter during the Bombers' 36-22 road loss Friday night to Calgary. O'Shea, 45, of North Bay, Ont., is in his third season with Winnipeg (0-2) but has a 12-26 record, hardly ideal for someone in the final year of his deal.

Winnipeg has been outscored 55-11 in the first three quarters of their two games. However, in O'Shea's defence, offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice is just two games into his return to the Blue Bombers, who fired LaPolice as offensive co-ordinator in '03 and head coach in 2012.

Also, GM Kyle Walters added many free agents and it's going to take time for the new faces to gel. Slotback Weston Dressler, one of Walters' prized off-season acquisitions, has struggled with injuries but practised Monday.

However, after four straight years of missing the playoffs and a 25-year Grey Cup drought, Bombers fans are getting antsy.

Winnipeg visits Hamilton on Thursday.

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THIS 'N THAT:  Hamilton traded linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis to Edmonton for a conditional 2018 eighth-round pick. Hoffman-Ellis joined the Ticats as a free agent from B.C. but didn't play during the regular season ... Offensive lineman Josiah St. John, taken first overall in this year's draft, practised Monday with the Saskatchewan Roughriders after signing with the CFL club, thus ending his holdout.

(Canadian Press)

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