No parade routes are quite yet being planned, but there are points to ponder nonetheless after the B.C. Lions beat Winnipeg 34-21 Friday and became only the second CFL team to win both its pre-season games this year:
Taking their shots: It might not rank with the introduction of the Quar rating by the league last season to measure quarterback excellence, but the Lions have come up with their own funky stat that goes some distance towards explaining their solid pre-season start.
Mixing terminology with a sport more familiar to the Lions’ non-imports, defensive coordinator Mark Washington and defensive backs assistant Stanley Franks have coined a new term which appears to have attracted the interest of their players.
Every attempt to create a turnover by players who try to pull the ball out of the hands of an opponent is recorded by Franks as a shot on goal. So far, the position assistant has been busy.
Forgetting briefly that the Lions hardly went up against opposing starters, the defence created nine turnovers in the two games, producing 37 of the 70 points the registered in exhibition play.
A touchdown off a fumble recovery by Odell Willis on the second play of the game, plus a pick six by Otha Foster goes a long way to hiding the fact Jon Jennings and the protection looked a lot like last year before the offence got rolling in the second half.
Under Otha: the gnashing and braying that took place while Ed Hervey underwent his free agent signing binge initially seemed to be justified when it appeared the Lions made no attempt to sign Chandler Fenner and Loucheiz Purifoy, who each had spent time at nickleback the last two seasons.
Truth be told, the Lions thought they had a chance at one of the two but ended up with neither. The replacement on display Friday has rendered further discussion completely misguided.
Foster looked so much at ease in his first game at the position on the Lions defence, TSN 1040 analyst Giulio Caravatta predicted after the win over Winnipeg that Foster this year will be the team’s nominee for defensive player of the year. Solomon Elimimian is hereby on notice.
A few months shy of his 30th birthday and with the NFL bug perhaps out of his system after an attempt to make it with the Baltimore Ravens last year, the addition of Foster from the 2015 Grey Cup team assembled in Edmonton by Hervey could be every bit as potentially profitable as the moves to strengthen the defensive pass rush.
“Ed’s work speaks for itself,” Foster said when asked why he wanted to play again for Hervey. “I just like the type of guys he brings into the locker room. He makes sure the room is full of friends who hang out outside of football. You need that type of team in order to win.”
Locker-room harmony has been a topic around the Lions in the past. It isn’t at the moment.
Never easy: It hardly ranked as a surprise when the Lions made their final round of meaningful roster cuts Saturday and only one player signed during the off-season by Hervey, Canadian safety Cauchy Muamba, was among the 12 players who were released.
If there was a surprise move by the off-season by the Lions, it was the signing of Muamba in the first place. He was unremarkable during his first tour of duty when drafted by Wally Buono in 2010 and when he came back this spring he had virtually no reps throughout training camp.
The final deletions still showed the cruel side, however. Second-year wideout Tyler Davis, described by several teammates as the best athlete in camp this year, didn’t get a chance to go on the injured list owing to the ankle injury he suffered in camp. Davis is still considered a rookie, having played in only one game for the Lions last year, and as such it is easier to make a move before reaching veteran status. Others also with the Lions for the most part who were on the practice roster last year who received bad news Saturday: DBs Tevin McDonald and Kendall James.
Davis wasn’t the only one to be unrewarded, however. Rookie import offensive lineman Cassidy Curtis was also cut. Curtis can now go on his honeymoon. He was married the day before training camp opened May 19 but determined in his attempt to land a roster spot, showed up in Kamloops as scheduled, only in vain.
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