Jamall Johnson to play middle LB?

Media reports say that Jamall Johnson will become the Tiger-Cats Middle LB this year along side Markeith Knowlton and the other players fighting for a Line Backer job in camp?

I think it's a great idea to have Johnson play the middle and he agrees, it gives him the freedom to move sideline to sideline and on rushes through the middle?

Johnson is one of the hardest hitters for sure and I think his presence in the middle and flanked by Knowlton and others will be another dominant force to watch in the CFL??

Eat Em Raw Tiger-Cats!!!

Not sure, he is one of the harder hitters, so he'll be great and punishing RBs trying to run through the line. The downside though, we won't get to see QB licks of the side like he gave Buck Pierce. No question Knowlten should be on the outside though.

Think Ricardo Colclough has the inside track in starting at the SAM LB spot to the strong/field side of the formation.

Markeith seems quite excited about being closer to the action playing WILL as does JJ playing the MIKE.

Overall I think the unit has gotten faster and more athletic with those changes. It'll be interesting to see what JJ's #s will be as far as tackles go when you consider guys like Sherrit & Bighill & Emry, who led the league last year, all played MLB.

Even more interesting will be when Marcellus Bowman comes back from injury & is healthy to play. Do the move JJ back to WILL & Markeith to SAM once again when Bowman is ready to hold down the middle?

Jamal Johnson at MLB is old news . I think it is more an experiment and getting players able to play two positions and leave the door open for this possibility as Austin likes team speed and this increases the speed of each linebacker .
I spoke to Marcellus Bowman at fan day and asked him about what position he expects to play and he said Middle Linebeacker . We also have Simoni Lawrence who looks good there . We could be just experimenting and giving Jamal a look and allowing him to learn tow positions and the same with Markeith .
It will be interesting to see .

Right now Colclough does havethe inside track on the SAM Lb yes ....This could all change is Simoni looks good in the middle in the pre season or when Marecllus is healthy and to see how our run defence is looking by being overmatched in size especially up the middle. Can Bulcke, Moore, Davis clog up the middle well enough to allow for such a small speedy linebacking corps ? I think not.

Eventually when Bowman is helathy in a month "

I see it as Bowman at Mlb with Lawrence and Jamal backing him and Jamal and WEAK SIDE with Markieith and Bowman as backups and Markeith as SAM with Colclough and Erik Harris backing up
This al alows for depth due to injuries . Shomari Williams can get moved to MLB, OLB in an emrgency as well

They're moving Knowlton to Will? Interesting. Typically Will LBs are a bit bigger than Knowlton, whose body type is more like that of a converted DB and historically more suited to the SAM position.

@gerbear ... I think it'll be hard pressed for Bowman to be ready to start/play anytime much before Labour Day. I can see the TiCats putting him on the 9 game IR as soon as final cuts are made and they set the 53 man roster. You can bring one guy off the 9 game IR before labour day and you can bring one guy off after labour day. I can't see Atkinson or Gascon-Nandon being ready anytime before labour day so they won't impact that. If Bowman gets healthy & ready ... They can bring him off the 9 game.

@D&P ... You're right in your assessment regarding Markeith's body type especially since he is a converted DB. And yes, most SAM's in the CFL are converted DB's or safeties. It's my personal humble opinion that lb's are getting a little bit smaller and faster and athletic across the board and across the league mainly due to the passing first nature of the game and overall speed of the game.

I like the idea of Markeith closer to the LoS and being able to get in the mix a lot and around the ball a lot more. Sounds like he does as well from interviews. As far as size, take a look at the man's calves and lower body. He has that low centre of gravity and leverage and footwork that will serve him well at WILL.

Oh, for sure, not saying he'll be horrible there or anything. He's a good player and will find his comfort zone. I just find it interesting, because I can't think of another Will with that body type. He certainly has the wheels to be effective in Will-type backside pursuit, as a blitzing LB off the edge, and in shallow hook zone against receivers. I'm less certain about his ability to beat blocks and stay in his gap when matched up against bigger blockers, or one-on-one against running backs in the flat. But I'm sure Steinhauer knows what he's doing.

I went perusing through team depth charts from last season and was surprised to see that a few teams's starting WILL LB is not bigger than Markeith and if so, only by a bit. Calgary uses Raymond who is 5'10" 204. Edmonton uses Munoz @ 5'11" 219. Toronto used Isaac &/or Ball @ 6'3" 208 & 6'1" 209.

Well, shame on me! I had no idea Knowlton was 6'0'' and 205 lbs! :lol: For some reason, I thought of him as being in the 5'11'' 185 lbs. range, because of his prior background at SAM linebacker. I'll withdraw my reservation then.

Oh no. No need to do that. I was with you for the same reason at the start. I found it interesting to see the size, or relative smaller size of the lbs in today's game. But then again, I think a lot of this is just in our own minds as well. Kind of like how a witness over estimates the size of a robber etc.

Calvin Tiggle. 6'1" 235
Ben Zambiasi 6'1" 207
Willie Pless 5'10" 205
Joe Montford 6'1" 225 @ defensive end mind you.

They all seem so much bigger as their legends grow than they actually were I guess.

So bottom line I guess is that listed height/weight means very little.

When they released Rey Williams earlier this year, I was anticipating a more hulking figure playing the middle. I hope Jamal will do well there. However, they will need more than ever for the DL to keep those big opposing O linemen off of him so that he can tackle and pursue.

That front four is really going to have to step it up this season.

Point certainly taken, though I will also point out that the game, as always, continues to evolve, and in today's game a defensive end at 6'1'' and 225 lbs is going to have a tough time beating a 300-lbs tackle with consistency. Montford was a genetic freak and an exceptional athlete at DE even for his own time. Along with Anwar Stewart, Montford is probably my favorite CFL DE of all time.

So bottom line I guess is that listed height/weight means very little.
It's definitely not the whole story, but it does tell a little bit of a story in most cases. Mike backers need to be roughly in the 240 lbs weight range to be solid inside against the run. DTs have to be bigger than ends to get inside pressure. Sam backers, in today's CFL, have to be DBs in terms of their body type or they'll get killed in their coverage responsibilities. Height/weight does matter, but it's not the be-all and end-all.

Pound for pound Jamall is one of the toughest players in the league, should be interesting. Our coach is not only smart but creative. 8)

Most definitely. The evolution of the game, both here in the CFL as well as south of the border is quite interesting & fascinating. In no particular order and by no means a complete listing/analysis;

Size of WR's has increased both height & weight. Especially height. In response so has the size of DB's. Especially short side DB's who are exceeding 6'1" these days. This was not the case 10 years ago.

The TE/FB spot seems to be making a resurgence. No longer is he just a short yardage specialist and special teams ace. The FB/TE is now a legitimate offensive threat and part of the gameplan. How will Defenses evolve?

Big running backs seem to be on the decline. The ground and pound horse that carries the mail seems to not be the norm anymore. Smaller, faster, still tough and durable, but more like the scat back is what teams are looking towards. Run, pass protect, pass receive ... Performance in all three phases of the game seem to be whats required.

Defensive ends who can drop into pass coverage. Which is understandable since most of these guys played OLB in either college or the pro's down south.

Defensive tackles who can move. Again, understandable since most of these guys played defensive end in college or the pro's down south.

Good points, especially the resurgence of the TE/FB or H-back. We had some success last year in Montreal with Lavoie in that role. It may be a response to the increased size/jam technique of DBs; move, countermove. Instead of a fifth receiver whose presence in the formation signals pass, your H-back can carry the ball, catch passes in short or intermediate zones, or line up as a pure blocker on the line. Or line up in block, check-release into a short curl, and use his size/frame to pick up a few more yards after catch or make that key TD grab in the red zone.

It was bound to happen. The league has been in that 5WR mentality since the Flutie era in the '90s. Defenses caught up to it and adjusted. So I'm curious to see how defenses respond to the return of the H-back.

I think we're not long away from a return to the Ray Elgaard type receiver. We're already seeing it with Nik Lewis. Your example of Patrick Lavoie is perfect. Bigger slot backs/H backs who can physically overpower db's. I think that's the way we're headed. Does this mean SAM LB's will get bigger again? Or will the play of the safety become important yet again since now it's been relegated to a non factor?

The evolution is the most interesting. Like the way Belichick starting drafting and utilizing TE's in response to the NY Jets and others spending so much and focusing upon shut down corners. "Fine, shut down my WR's with you CB's. I'll use slot backs and TE's. good luck!"

I know, Belichick is a master. And when teams adjusted to his TE / slot use, he went right back to explosive wide receivers in the deep passing game. :smiley:

Fender, you mentioned the safety being a nonfactor. Care to expand on that statement? I hadn't thought about it at all and I'm curious to know why you think the safety isn't important these days...

Nothing scientific by any means and solely based upon casual observation, but it seems to me that safety is not as important or valued today as it once was. FA's that are hotly pursued in the offseason seem to be corners & DLine & OLine, almost all,other positions other than safety. Also seems to me that safeties rarely rank amongst the top in terms of tackles and interceptions. For one, its good if your safety isnt leading your team in tackles. Also, seems like the days of QB's floating long deep balls that get picked off by the rover are over as well.

No doubt a good safety is an added asset. Kyries Hebert was a beast last season for MTL. But was that as much to do with his special teams work or work on Defense?

I think within the current SMS, most teams are saving money at safety and deploying those savings to other parts of the secondary & Defense in general.

If you take a literal look at the position by definition, safety is the last line of Defense. Obviously teams are looking to spend their resources & deploy their best players at earlier lines of Defense.

Part of it may be related to the resurgence of the short passing game ushered in around 2008 by Hufnagel and Trestman. The league isn't chuck and duck as much as it used to be. Ball control has become standard and all eight teams are using backfield motion to stretch the field horizontally as well as vertically. So yeah, those signature Michael Bishop armpunts are disappearing.

That said, I do think the safety has an important role to play in knockdowns and 'shading' support on a top receiver; if he reads wrong or gets caught peeking at the QB too long, it get ugly for the defending team. It doesn't translate into flashy stats (INTs, tackles) but it's still important.

No doubt a good safety is an added asset. Kyries Hebert was a beast last season for MTL. But was that as much to do with his special teams work or work on Defense?
As most of us on the Als forum have noted, Hebert was a beast on ST and as a blitzing safety with some run stopping responsibility. He basically played more like an NFL strong safety than what we normally see out of the free safety position up here. But coverage wasn't his strong suit and he tended to get exposed playing "center field" in the trad safety role, which is why this year we're using Edem at safety and moving Hebert down into the Will linebacker position.
If you take a literal look at the position by definition, safety is the last line of Defense. Obviously teams are looking to spend their resources & deploy their best players at earlier lines of Defense.
That's an interesting way to look at it, and put that way, I can see what you mean. Why over-invest in the guy who's usually only making plays when things have already gone horribly wrong in a given sequence? ;)