Wish I had seen it a week ago, but it has a breakdown of each team's key personnel changes.[url=http://sports.nationalpost.com/2012/06/29/cfl-preview-2012-from-west-to-east/]http://sports.nationalpost.com/2012/06/ ... t-to-east/[/url]
Last season 11-7, first in West; won Grey Cup.
Head coach Mike Benevides.
Key additions DB Byron Parker, DB Lin-J Shell, OL Patrick Kabongo, DL Maurice Evans.
Key departures LB Solomon Elimimian, DE Brent Johnson, DT Aaron Hunt, DB Davis Sanchez, QB Jarious Jackson.
Newcomer to watch Lions traded up in the 2012 draft to select DT Jabar Westerman of Eastern Michigan with the No. 2 overall pick. He will be the only non-import player on the defensive line, which lost veteran Brent Johnson to retirement.
Veteran to watch DT Khalif Mitchell, an all-CFL selection who spurned a contract offer from the Miami Dolphins. When the free-spirited Mitchell is on his game, opposing offensive linemen are mismatched.
Strengths Grey Cup roster returning virtually intact, with tremendous depth on the defensive line and defensive secondary.
Weaknesses Inexperience behind starter Travis Lulay. Backup QB Mike Reilly has thrown only two CFL passes in his career.
Reason for optimism Lulay, the CFL’s outstanding player last season, has a loaded receiving corps, starting with Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce.
Cause for concern Resiliency of the offensive line. Starters Jesse Newman, Dean Valli and Jon Hameister-Ries all suffered knee injuries in camp and will play with braces. Free-agent guard Patrick Kabongo has quickly shown himself to be injury-prone.
Bottom line The 2012 Lions are seeking to become the first repeat champions in the franchise’s history. For it to happen, the team must avoid complacency and serious injuries, particularly to Lulay.
Mike Beamish, The Vancouver Sun
Last season 11-7, third in West; lost West semi-final.
Head coach John Hufnagel.
Key additions Defensive co-ordinator Rick Campbell, DE Kenny Pettway, DB Fred Bennett.
Key departures Defensive co-ordinator Chris Jones, QB Henry Burris, RB Joffrey Reynolds, SB Ken-Yon Rambo, P Burke Dales, DB Geoff Tisdale, DL DeVone Claybrooks, LB Brandon Isaac.
Newcomer to watch DB Fred Bennett had a wonderful pre-season, prompting the Stamps to trade returning corner Geoff Tisdale to Hamilton on Saturday. He made three interceptions against Edmonton (only two counted because of a penalty), and his NFL experience showed throughout training camp.
Veteran to watch RB Jon Cornish has a legitimate chance to become the first Canadian in nearly a quarter century (and only the fifth overall) to win the CFL rushing title.
Strengths Canadian depth. Outstanding in all areas, particularly on the offensive line.
Weaknesses None that leap out at you, but the biggest question mark will be at quarterback. Not that Drew Tate isn’t a capable starter, but he has never done it over an 18-game season. S
Reason for optimism The Stamps will take one of the CFL’s youngest teams into the regular season. Just three of the projected opening-night starters are over 30.
Cause for concern The Stampeders have not recorded a post-season win since the 2009 West semi-final.
Bottom line With Burris, Reynolds and Rambo gone, it is a massive changing of the guard. But there is a sense of excitement among the Stampeders. Only time will tell if that excitement is warranted.
Allen Cameron, Calgary Herald
Last season 11-7, second in West; lost West final.
Head coach Kavis Reed.
Key additions QB Steven Jyles, WR Greg Carr, WR Cary Koch, WR Aaron Hargreaves, WR Shamawd Chambers, OL Simeon Rottier, LB Rashad Jeanty, DL Donny Oramasionwu, CB Joe Burnett.
Key departures QB Ricky Ray, TB Jerome Messam, LB Greg Peach, LB Rod Davis, WR Jason Barnes.
Newcomer to watch CB Joe Burnett had a productive training camp that was highlighted by an interception on Calgary’s Drew Tate that he ran back 80 yards for a touchdown.
Veteran to watch QB Steven Jyles. The 29-year-old has sought a starting job with a team since he came to Edmonton as a rookie in 2007. He gets the start on Saturday against Ricky Ray and Toronto.
Strengths Defence. Edmonton’s pass rush is a year more experienced, led by the sack-happy Marcus Howard (11 sacks in 13 regular-season games in 2011).
Weaknesses Kick return. The Eskimos struggled to get good field position, let alone touchdowns from their return game last season. Look for Joe Burnett or Hugh Charles to try to make a difference in that spot this year.
Reason for optimism There are a ton of talented options for Jyles. Fred Stamps and Adarius Bowman tied for the team lead in yardage a year ago (1,153 yards each), and Charles is hungry to build off of a strong training camp.
Cause for concern Quarterback. The unproven entity for the Eskimos. The pressure is on Jyles and/or Kerry Joseph to produce.
Bottom line The defence should be great, maybe even better than it was a year ago. That’s only half of the job, though.
Chris O’Leary, Edmonton Journal
Last season 5-13, fourth in West; missed playoffs.
Head coach Corey Chamblin.
Key additions Chamblin, G Brendon LaBatte, C Dominic Picard, G Ben Heenan, DE Odell Willis, RB Kory Sheets.
Key departures Head coach Ken Miller, RB Wes Cates, LB Jerrell Freeman, LB Barrin Simpson, LB Sean Lucas, OL Gene Makowsky, C Marc Parenteau, SB Andy Fantuz, DB Lance Frazier.
Newcomer to watch RB Kory Sheets. He started out training camp at the bottom of the depth chart and earned the starting role with two stellar pre-season performances.
Veteran to watch QB Darian Durant. He struggled in 2011 and needs to rebound in 2012; there is not any depth behind him with CFL experience.
Strengths Offensive line. The Riders overhauled the line with the free-agent signings of Picard and LaBatte and the selection of Heenan with the first overall pick in the 2012 CFL draft.
Weaknesses Defensive end. The lack of a consistent pass rush was among the Riders’ glaring weaknesses in 2011. The Riders acquired all-star Odell Willis from Winnipeg during the off-season. Willis shared the CFL lead in sacks in 2011.
Reason for optimism A trio of receivers. Slotbacks Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf are among the league’s elite receivers. Rob Bagg, who missed 2011 while recovering from a second knee surgery, adds another weapon.
Cause for concern Lack of quarterback depth.
Bottom line Patience will be required as the Riders adapt to the personnel and coaching changes made during the off-season. There isn’t a lot of patience in Riderville.
Murray McCormick, Regina Leader-Post
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Last season 10-8 , first in East; lost in Grey Cup final.
Head coach Paul LaPolice.
Key additions DE Alex Hall, DT Brandon Collier.
Key departures C Obby Khan, G Brandon LaBatte, DT Doug Brown, DE Odell Willis, LB Clint Kent, LB Joe Lobendahn, WR Greg Carr, RB Fred Reid.
Newcomer to watch DE Alex Hall. On a completely revamped defensive line, the former Cleveland Brown will try to replace the mayor of Swaggerville, Odell Willis.
Veteran to watch RB Chris Garrett. In just six games last season, Garrett rushed for 576 yards and four touchdowns, and for 6.3 yards per carry. The question remains whether he can keep up that pace for 18 games.
Strengths The Bombers boast the most fearsome secondary in the league, led by defensive player of the year Jovon Johnson and Jonathan Hefney (although Hefney could move to strong-side linebacker) .
Weaknesses Lack of veteran leadership. With no Doug Brown, Clint Kent or Obby Khan, the residents of Swaggerville are left to their own devices. Judging by their off-season outbursts on Twitter, maturity is an issue.
Reason for optimism Youth. General manager Joe Mack rejects conventional wisdom every winter by refusing to stock his team with established CFL veteran free agents.
Cause for concern Buck Pierce hates the “fragile? tag, but the record clearly shows his propensity for injuries. Will he survive behind an inexperienced offensive line?
Bottom line If the offensive and defensive lines hold up — and if Pierce stays healthy — the Bombers should contend for a home playoff game.
Vicki Hall, Calgary Herald
Last season 8-10, third in East; lost East final.
Head coach George Cortez.
Key additions Cortez, QB Henry Burris, SB Andy Fantuz, LB Kevin Eiben, DE Greg Peach, OL Tim O’Neill, K Luca Congi, RB Chevon Walker, DE Shawn Crable, DL Jermaine McElveen, P Josh Bartel, WR Sam Giguère.
Key departures OL Mark Dewit, QB Kevin Glenn, OL Simeon Rottier, DE Luc Mullinder, DE Stevie Baggs, DE Justin Hickman, K Justin Medlock, RB Marcus Thigpen.
Newcomer to watch Despite an ankle injury that ended his 2011 early, SB Andy Fantuz’s 6-foot-4 frame is a great target for Henry Burris, But can he repeat his 2010 outstanding Canadian season (87 catches, 1,380 receiving yards)?
Veteran to watch Linebacker Jamall Johnson can float from the line of scrimmage into pass coverage, but with defensive ends Justin Hickman and Stevie Baggs gone, Johnson will be expected to improve on his 77 tackles and six sacks last season.
Strengths The Ticats’ group of receivers — Fantuz, Bakari Grant, Chris Williams, Dave Stala and Sam Giguère — could be the best in the league.
Weaknesses Hamilton has questions on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Guard Peter Dyakowski needs to lead a relatively new offensive line until veteran centre Marwan Hage returns from a knee injury.
Reason for optimism Hamilton has a good mix of youth and experience on offence, and should be able to outscore most teams.
Cause for concern The pieces on the line of scrimmage need to fit and protect Hamilton’s investment in the 37-year-old Burris. .
Bottom line If effective, Hamilton’s offence could power the team to the Grey Cup. If not, Hamilton will be mediocre again.
Matthew Scianitti, National Post
Last season 6-12, fourth in East; missed playoffs).
Head coach Scott Milanovich.
Key additions Milanovich, defensive co-ordinaor Chris Jones, QB Ricky Ray, C Marc Parenteau, WR Jason Barnes, QB Jarious Jackson, OL Andrew Jones, OT Wayne Smith, LB Brandon Isaac.
Key departures WR Jeremaine Copeland, DB Lin-J Shell, OG Taylor Robertson, DB/LB Willie Pile, C Dominic Picard, CB Byron Parker, OT Rob Murphy, LB Kevin Eiben.
Newcomer to watch QB Ricky Ray’s pre-season struggles are concerning, but head coach Scott Milanovich insists his passing is suited for a system that requires him to consider all receiving options, and not just the big play.
Veteran to watch SB Andre Durie came to training camp with added muscle, and Milanovich and general manager Jim Barker think he is about to become the complete rushing and receiving weapon.
Strengths Milanovich and Jones are creative, Grey Cup-proven coaches who have leaders on offence (Ray) defence (safety Jordan Younger) and special teams (returner Chad Owens) to build a winning mentality.
Weaknesses Ray is still learning the offence, does not have a No. 1 receiver, and is working in front of a new offensive line.
Reason for optimism Off-season workouts have produced talent, such as CB Ahmad Carroll, LB Marcus Ball, DT Armond Armstead, WR Dontrelle Inman and QB Trevor Harris.
Cause for concern Fans will want Ray to be good, the offensive line to be unbreakable and the defence to find chemistry immediately. They might all take som time.
Bottom line All the pieces are there to make Toronto a winner, but maybe not this season.
Matthew Scianitti, National Post
Last season 10-8, second in East; lost East semi-final.
Head coach Marc Trestman.
Key additions DT Aaron Hunt, DE Luc Mullinder, DE Bo Adebayo, DT Ventrell Jenkins, LB Rod Davis, S Kyries Hebert, RB Noel Devine.
Key departures DL Anwar Stewart, LB Diamond Ferri, CB Mark Estelle, FB Kerry Carter, WR Kerry Watkins, KR Tim Maypray.
Newcomer to watch Only 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, RB Noel Devine has magnificent outside speed and could become one of the CFL’s most exciting players as a return specialist.
Veteran to watch SB Jamel Richardson was the CFL’s leading receiver last season and has the size and necessary speed to make opposing defences pay for their mistakes. He caught 112 passes for 1,777 yards and scored 11 touchdowns.
Strengths The Alouettes’ offence scored more points than any other team. They had the leading receiver in Richardson, while Brandon Whitaker led all running backs in rushing yards.
Weaknesses We’re not sure if it was the defence or the spate of injuries, especially in the secondary, that caused Montreal’s demise last year but new defensive co-ordinator Jeff Reinebold has promised a more aggressive approach.
Reason for optimism If the CFL is a quarterback-driven league, Montreal has one of the best in Anthony Calvillo. He passed for more than 5,200 yards last season.
Cause for concern Calvillo’ is 40 and sustained a concussion in Edmonton last season.
Bottom line The offence must continue scoring points, while the defence must display marked improvement.
Herb Zurkowsky, The Gazette