Insider Talk: COVID vaccinations, Hamilton’s protection problems, Arbuckle is the ‘deal deal’

Photo courtesy: Ticats.ca

Insider Talk is a weekly feature on 3DownNation that features anonymous quotes from people around the CFL — players, coaches, personnel people, executives, and agents — regarding the latest news around the league. It’s a combination of insight, analysis, rumours, and friendly gossip.

This week’s Insider Talk is full of discussion on player vaccinations, the problems surrounding the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and the emergence of Canadian receiver Kian Schaffer-Baker.

Enjoy this week’s quotes and come back next Wednesday for another edition of Insider Talk.

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It’s impossible to police what players do outside of team buildings. They’re young men, not robots, and they’re all on the honour system. If they go out partying and lie about it, there’s nothing anybody can do. There’s no type of reporting required by the league, either. The teams are left to police themselves, and obviously that can lead to a conflict of interest.

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Moving to the 85 percent vaccination rule was smart. There’s been a lot of peer pressure in our organization to get players vaccinated and it’s working.

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I don’t know exactly how many Tier One personnel members there are across the nine teams, but it’s at least 650 people. If you think every single one of them has followed every single protocol every single day since the season started, then you’re the most naive person on the planet.

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I wasn’t surprised at all by how (Canadian rookie Saskatchewan Roughriders’ receiver Kian) Schaffer-Baker played (in Week 3). He’s a stud.

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Scouting isn’t that hard in COVID times. It’s not like the old days where you needed a giant rolodex and had to know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy. Everything’s digital now. Getting film is easy and making contact with the right people is very easy.

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The problem in Hamilton is the protection. They miss (retired centre) Mike Filer a lot and I’m not sure (offensive line coach Mike) Gibson has been a great fit there. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

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I’ve been impressed with Toronto. They’re the biggest surprise of the season so far for me. They’ve looked really good and I think (quarterback Nick) Arbuckle is the real deal.

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(Canadian offensive lineman and former first-round CFL draft pick) Dakoda Shepley is the first guy to arrive in the morning and the last to leave in San Francisco. The 49ers are high on him and I think he’s going to make their 53-man roster.

John Hodge is a CFL insider and draft analyst who has been covering the league since 2014.