Nine thoughts on nine teams with the end of an era at Taylor Field in Saskatchewan front and centre. Congratulations to the Riders for putting on a great sendoff.
B.C. Lions: Mic’hael Brooks has just one sack through 12 games played in 2016, but the statistics do not tell the full story on nimble No. 90. He’s a disruptive force and really difficult to block one-on-one on the interior. Just ask Dan Clark and Jake Waters, Brooks leaped frogged the offensive lineman on an attempted cut block and then lit up the Riders quarterback.
Edmonton Eskimos: Kenny Ladler should be getting more buzz. Edmonton’s first-year defender has started every game at strong-side linebacker (SAM) for the Eskimos – said by many coaches to be the toughest spot to play on defence in the CFL. The Vanderbilt product, who played safety in the NCAA and NFL, led Edmonton with six tackles in the win against Hamilton and he paces all first-year linebackers with 70 takedowns while adding two interceptions – one returned for a touchdown – two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
Calgary Stampeders: Trust in Dave Dickenson. What wrong decision has the rookie head coach made? It seems like he’s pushed nearly all the right proverbial buttons for Calgary, so when he decides to rest his soon to be CFL MOP quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell just know the man has a plan behind what he’s doing. Especially, when you consider notorious head shot artist Kyries Hebert was running around for Montreal.
— Justin Dunk (@JDunk12) October 30, 2016
Saskatchewan Roughriders: When Darian Durant stood on the field with Rider greats George Reed, Roger Aldag and Gene Makowsky during the closing ceremony at Taylor Fied, it proved that he’s truly a living legend in Saskatchewan. If Chris Jones lets No. 4 finish his storied career in any colour other than green, the Rider faithful will go bonkers. That places a large amount of leverage on Durant’s side in contract extension negotiations with the 34-year-old clearly still able to produce at a high level.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Everyone has taken notice of Calgary’s two outstanding rookie candidates, receiver DaVaris Daniels and linebacker Alex Singleton. Winnipeg has a pair of strong candidates too, American defensive back Kevin Fogg and Canadian safety Taylor Loffler. The former has 78 tackles, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one sack on defence. Add 696 punt return yards on 49 attempts (14.2 average) for Fogg. While the latter, Winnipeg’s 2016 third-round pick has 52 tackles, four interceptions and three forced fumbles. Those are two stuffed stat lines for rookies.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats: With the amount of injuries that have occurred for Hamilton the trainer’s room is likely a busy place. Consider that the Ticats fielded a patchwork lineup and to even keep it close against a tough West Division opponent in Edmonton is a small positive despite the loss.
Toronto Argonauts: There is one major reason for Toronto to be focused on getting a win in Week 20: draft pick order. The Argos’ 2017 first-round selection belongs to Winnipeg and the second or third overall choice going to the Bombers in the Drew Willy trade would be much more bearable than No. 1.
Ottawa Redblacks: Cover man Abdul Kanneh looked like the 2015 CFL All-Star version for the first time in a long time against Winnipeg. Yes, the two interceptions – Kanneh’s first career multi-interception effort – standout, but what was most impressive was the way the 26-year-old kept tight coverage almost every snap. That resurgence from Kanneh seemed to be the backbone of a strong performance from Ottawa defensively.
Montreal Alouettes: Through a tough season in Montreal Nik Lewis has been one constant positive for the Alouettes. On Sunday he recorded his first 1,000-yard season since 2012 and moved into fourth place on the CFL’s all-time receptions list. With just three catches in Week 20, “Thick Nik” would set a new single-season career high.
— Kevin Glenn (@qterback5) October 30, 2016