The off-season plan of the B.C. Lions was always to play three Canadians on the offensive line as they juggle the ratio to accommodate the loss of Andrew Harris, and Tuesday they showed just how they will accomplish their goal.
Lions general manager Wally Buono acquired Victoria-born centre Tim O’Neill from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in exchange for a fifth-round Canadian draft pick, representing something of a bargain when it comes to non-import starters for a team which had not much luck acquiring one through free agency last week .
The 36-year-old has been mostly a mainstay at centre with both the Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders for eight seasons, and again fits with the current remake of the Lions to include players with a west coast background.
As forecast last week, the ratio rethinking was bad news for American centre Jason Foster, who was formally released today. It means the Lions intend to play newcomer Levy Adcock and veteran Jovan Olafioye as import tackles, with Canadians like O’Neill comprising the interior three line positions in a manner more conventional in the CFL and less radical than the approach taken by Jeff Tedford last season.
O’Neill, a Victoria Rebels junior product, slips ahead of Cam Thorn on the depth chart, as the Lions affirmed their wish to move away from free agent Matt Norman, whose knee problems last season has also prompted every other CFL team to steer clear during free agency at present.
Why O’Neill was deemed expendable with the Ticats is capably outlined here.