3DownNation CFL awards: the best and worst of Week 2

Photo courtesy: Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards/Saskatchewan Roughriders

It’s time to honour the top performers from Week 2 of the CFL regular season. It was an up-and-down week across the league, which featured a mixed bag of high-octane action and sleep-inducing slip-ups.

These awards are selected by a panel of 3DownNation contributors and will be presented weekly throughout the 2023 season. Enjoy.

Offensive player of the week: QB Trevor Harris, Saskatchewan Roughriders

The 37-year-old was questionable due to a hip injury that held him out of practice during the week but looked no worse for wear on Friday night. Harris threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns against Winnipeg, impressing in his home regular season debut as the face of the franchise in Riderville. Though not known for his running ability, Harris also chipped in three carries for 23 yards to be Saskatchewan’s leading rusher on the day.

Honourable mention: QB Zach Collaros, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Photo courtesy: Calgary Stampeders

Defensive player of the week: LB Micah Awe, Calgary Stampeders

The journeyman defender has settled nicely into the middle of Calgary’s defensive unit and was dominant against the Redblacks, recording five tackles, one sack, one interception, and one forced fumble. On the whole, the Stampeders allowed only 15 points and 249 yards of net offence while generating five takeaways. Awe had big shoes to fill when he took over from Jameer Thurman but so far, he’s doing a nice job.

Honourable mention: SAM Adarius Pickett, Toronto Argonauts

Special teams player of the week: KR Janarion Grant, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The 29-year-old showed once again why he is the league’s most dangerous return specialist, breaking upwards of eight tackles on a 92-yard punt return touchdown. The play was initially negated by a phantom illegal block penalty, though the flag was picked up upon review. Grant has now returned seven punts for touchdowns over just 35 career CFL regular season games.

Honourable mention: DB Brandin Dandridge, Ottawa Redblacks

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Breakout player of the week: REC Samuel Emilus, Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Montreal native made only nine receptions during his rookie season a year ago but is now a household name on the prairies following an outstanding performance against the rival Blue Bombers. Emilus caught seven passes for 77 yards and three touchdowns, which tied a single-game franchise record. The former first-round pick has started living up to his billing and has clearly developed quick chemistry with Trevor Harris.

Honourable mention: REC Damonte Coxie, Toronto Argonauts

Offensive line of the week: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

This unit allowed franchise quarterback Zach Collaros throw for 288 yards and two touchdowns in hostile territory and helped the club’s ball-carriers rush for 107 yards and three touchdowns. Winnipeg allowed one sack, though it came after Collaros gave himself up to a defender after rolling out of the pocket. This unit continues to play at a high level.

Honourable mention: Toronto Argonauts

Coach of the week: DC Ryan Phillips, B.C. Lions

Phillips has now won this award in back-to-back weeks as his unit’s allowed only 15 points through two games. The Lions shut out the Edmonton Elks on Saturday, giving up a measly 11 first downs and 149 yards of net offence. Phillips and his defence will face by far its toughest test of the season next week when they visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on only four days of rest.

Honourable mention: OC Buck Pierce, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Photo: Mike Still/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Best play of the week: KR Janarion Grant, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Grant’s punt return touchdown was arguably the best in league history, making it an easy selection for play of the week. The Rutgers product made Saskatchewan’s cover team look silly, dodging upward of eight would-be tacklers. With all due respect to the other players who made big plays this past week, this award selection was a no-brainer.

Honourable mention: Brandin Dandridge’s touchdown return

Worst play of the week: K Rene Paredes, Calgary Stampeders

Kickers aren’t known for their ability to tackle but what Paredes did to bring down Jackson Bennett was simply unacceptable. While facing a stiff-arm on a long kickoff return, Paredes grabbed Bennett’s face mask and used it to rip the veteran ball-carrier to the turf. It was a dangerous play that rightfully drew a 15-yard penalty. Fortunately, Bennett wasn’t hurt on the play.

Honourable mention: QB Nick Arbuckle’s interception

Photo courtesy: Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards/Saskatchewan Roughriders

Best game of the week: Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Saskatchewan Roughriders

The final score may have been a little bit lopsided but this was a seven-point game heading into the fourth quarter featuring two red-hot quarterbacks. This contest featured 72 points, 831 yards of net offence, nine touchdowns, a breakout receiver, an incredible punt return, plenty of big hits, and a great live crowd. What more could you ask for?

Honourable mention: Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonauts

Worst game of the week: Edmonton Elks at B.C. Lions

This game was devoid of big plays and riddled with inaccurate throws, dropped balls, and punts. The defences deserve credit for playing well but this game felt like it was over early in the second half, which may have lulled some audiences to sleep (fortunately, it wasn’t a late west coast start). At least the performance from LL Cool J was good.

Honourable mention: Calgary Stampeders at Ottawa Redblacks