Today was a one practice day instead of two when the afternoon session was called off, partly due to the heat. The heat and humidity must do wonders for those that are trying to lose a bit of weight but at the same time, I am sure the players are thinking of getting off the field and into some air conditioning as quickly as possible.
The practice was ok, without much more ‘intriguing’ news since the players here today know that they will be playing on Friday and that will be there next big test to win a spot on the roster.
While going over the roster, these would be the major battles heading into Friday’s tilt with the Argos and Ricky Williams:
Quarterback has Maas and Eakin as a 1-2 punch, and so the battle for third would be Ritchie Williams versus Patrick Josten. Whether the coaching staff plays the latter two a lot or a little in this game, and I would imagine they would play them in the middle of the third quarter until the end of the game, Williams is heading into the game as the man to beat. Josten has to come up with a calm and determined outing to claw his way up the depth chart.
At running back we have Ranek, Holmes and Anthony Davis. The first two will stick, with Ranek starting, Holmes platooning with him and being used as an extra receiver in passing situations, but the key is to find a way to keep Anthony Davis on the roster. Davis has done nothing but exceed what has been asked of him. It will be interesting to see what he can do on Friday.
At fullback we have Radlein, and lets hope he is back to 100% health after his knee injury. At the same time, we don’t have to really rush him back especially if we use extra receiver sets with Holmes in his place. If it isnt Holmes, then Aidoo is having a great camp and looks to change his game to the Aidoo we all knew at McMaster. Les Mullings and Gilles Lezi are also competing at fullback so that is a position to keep an eye on Friday.
The receiving core will be fun to watch in this game. The first unit at practice has Flick, Peterson, Ralph, Yeast and Terry Vaughn. Right close behind is the combo of Willie Quinnie, Talman Gardner, Kwame Cavil, Davon Fowlkes and the two Canadians Mike Morreale and Iain Fleming. The eyes of most fans will be focused on this group. I personally am looking for players in the second group to take a step forward
On the offensive line, Hudson, Hage and Smith are set plus the new guy Damion Cook looks very very good and is a good game or two in the exhibition round to take a tackle position with authority. He looks real good in practice and in one one ones. He is very aggressive. The other tackle position could end up in the hands of Ryan Donnelly or one of Jamal Powell, Greg Randall or Jimmy Kosienski. It will be interesting to see who makes the fewest mistakes. For Randall we will want to watch how quick he is. Fabio Filice will be a solid backup this year as he is much improved over last year. This will be the first CFL game for draftee Chris Sutherland and this is his major test to date. Pascal Cheron will be there in the mix once he is back in full stride.
On the defensive line, it is almost elementary that Cotton, Belli, Peterson and Cheatwood would be our first unit. Backing them up at end, and not far behind in ability is Demetrios Walker. Dunbrack looks to be the reserve right now in the middle. Also battling outside is Steve Josue and Claude Sanders while Rob Schroeder does nothing but bull rush his way into the backfield pretty consistently. Troy Cunningham has improved greatly since last year and he shows a lot of determination in improving his game, which is what you want from all athletes. Shawn Mayne’s first CFL game will be a big test for him as he has to make a name for himself in the hopes of sticking with the team.
At linebacker we have JoJuan Armour and Renard Cox on the outside and Augie in the middle. Competition stems from Antoine Sanders, Mariuz and Hitchcock on the flanks and Bobby Brooks inside. Renard has lost weight and his cover skills are vastly improved. Brooks provides a larger body in the middle but he also gives up a bit of speed too. Mariuz was just a great off-season acquisition. He can definitely start in my opinion if need be. Sanders is a talent and the team will have to find a spot on the roster for him at this point. Hitchcock is having a good camp and will also be giving his all regardless of how many years he has played to date. Keep an eye on Brooks and the Sanders, Mariuz and Cox battle.
In the secondary we have Justin who looks invincible, and the ever aggressive Tay Cody at corners with Goss and Martin inside and Shaw at safety. The battle of Babers and Bradley to backup at corner and Kornegay to backup corner and inside will be interesting. In addition we have Shaw, Beveridge and Gordon at the safety spot, and will there be room for all three. Maha Atogwe, Eric Nielson, Greg Bearman and Sasha Glavic provide depth at the various positions in the secondary.
Placekicking and punting should be less of a concern for Boreham as it will probably be Fleming who takes the punting chores this year. Boreham can concentrate on bettering his 57-yard field goals from this point on. Let us not forget the prime work that Matt Robichaud does with his long snapping. Having a player like him be as good as he is makes the task easier for any special teams unit.
Remember these are only my opinions which doesn’t mean much in the end.
Can’t wait for Friday and it wont be that hot and humid either.