It’s A CFL Primer And a Top 10 Tuesday:

With the kick-off to the CFL season just two sleeps away here is a look around the Canadian Football League.

10 – BC Lions: The Leos head into the 2014 campaign with a question mark at Quarterback. The Grey Cup hosts’ will be without Travis Lulay for the foreseeable future as he is trying to recover from a late season shoulder injury in 2013. That means that Kevin Glenn, who will be suiting up for his fifth team, will have the keys to the new offense that has been installed by new coordinator Khari Jones. The biggest question for the Lions will be their defence. There are familiar names but those names are starting to get long in the tooth especially in the secondary (J.R. LaRose, Kenyan Parker, Ryan Phillips, and Dante Marsh). The Lions won’t outscore a lot of teams but may just out play them.

9 – Calgary Stampeders: Like B.C. the Stamps have questions at Quarterback. Neither Drew Tate or Levi Mitchell stood out to take a firm hold on the starters job in the preseason. Unlike the Lions, Calgary no longer has a proven veteran that can step in to direct the offence. Truthfully the supporting cast on both sides of the ball should allow the team to be at or near the top of the West Division. The biggest question will be whether or not one of the two pivots can step up and pilot the group.

8 – Edmonton Eskimos: If you asked me after the first half of their final pre-season game I would have told you that the Eskies would be lucky to win three games this season. However, when the team settled down in the second half, albeit against the Roughriders second stringers, the team showed some moxie. Truthfully, Edmonton will have some growing pains with a new coaching staff but coaching and strategy goes out the window if you cannot stay disciplined which was the team’s Achilles heel last year. There is some exciting young talent in Green and Gold this year but they may be in tough to make the post-season.

7 – Winnipeg Blue Bombers: The long road back to respectability in the Manitoba capital started last season with a complete make-over of the team’s hierarchy. New Head Coach Mike O’Shea is charged with trying to mold a team out of a lump of clay. The clay though doesn’t have a lot of consistency and the Canadian players that are required to hold the group together are still a grade or two below most teams. Couple all of that with a new starting quarterback in Drew Willy and a move to the ultra-competitive West Division and it’s a big mountain for the Bombers to climb. Hopefully it’s one that Bomber fans can be patient with.

6 – Toronto Argonauts: The Argos may have lost a key piece of their offence with running back Chad Kackert retiring in the off-season, however, adding a receiver with the resume of Jamal Richardson will only add to the already loaded arsenal for quarterback Ricky Ray. Defensively the starting 12 may be looking for an identity with the loss of Co-ordinator Chris Jones to Edmonton. New defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke is no dummy but I’m not sure that he has the system that was implemented specifically by Jones for the personnel that he was able to recruit. All in all, the Argos should be the toast of the East thanks to solid and proven veterans in most key positions and no other real threat presenting itself at this time.

5 – Hamilton Tiger-Cats: The defending East Division Champions proved when they released starting Quarterback Henry Burris that they would not be resting on their laurels from a season ago. By signing Zach Collaros to a free-agent deal General Manager and Head Coach Kent Austin has served notice to his vets that if he doesn’t think that you are performing he will find someone that does. One vet that I expect to get it done is running back C.J. Gable. He proved that he has the ability to be a difference maker. If he can follow up an impressive rookie season with more consistency the Hamilton offence will roll. Additionally, with the completion of Tim Horton’s Field the Tabbies will actually get to play a home game this year. The Ti-Cats should be solid competition for Toronto in the East, but their inexperience may catch up to them.

4 – Ottawa REDBLACKS: A group of unwanted players. That’s what some describe the REDBLACKS roster as. I prefer to look at the team as a talented group of players that now get to take on far more responsibility than they were afforded with their previous clubs. Henry Burris has taken on the mentality that he has something to prove and has looked good in the preseason. The regular season may be a different story as depth will be the biggest issue for the expansion franchise. On defence there are a lot of young faces in key spots which could spell for a long year. I do though believe that the REDBLACKS won’t be the bottom feeders in the East, yet that won’t translate into a play-off spot.

3 – MONTREAL ALOUETTES: This season is the start of life without Anthony Calvillo for the Als. One could argue that last year could have taken on that identity. The loss of a Hall of Famer like Calvillo could put a franchise into a big down cycle; however, one of the most successful GM’s of all time in the league Jim Popp will not allow that to happen. Some dissention between himself and the owners of the Als, especially when it came to naming Tom Higgins Head Coach, may spell the end of his time in Montreal, though. All that being said the Als defence is aging and will need some youth injected. Offensively, the Alouettes still have the best receiving corp. but if sophomore pivot Troy Smith cannot deliver the ball to them it won’t matter a great deal. To be truthful I’m not so sure that Smith is where the Als think he is and it could be a long summer for the league’s most eastern based club. The play-offs may even be a question mark for the re-tooling club.

2 – SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS: The Green and White enter the season as defending champions for just the fourth time in their 100-plus year history. Darian Durant is brimming with confidence which is going to give the offence a big boost. However, question marks at receiver and running back may have him needing to run more and earlier than last year. That of course puts him at jeopardy of injury and I’m not sure the Rider depth at pivot is where they would want it to be. Defensively, there are some question marks at linebacker but those could be helped in part by a strong secondary and a defensive line with lots of potential. The Riders will be a different team than they were in 2014 but with a consistent philosophy from the coaching staff the Riders still should challenge for tops in the West. AND if a Kory Sheets and/or Weston Dressler are returned to the team from their NFL try-outs Rider Nation may want to make plans to be in Vancouver in November.

1 – BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE: toontownsports.net once again will be your home for all things CFL. In addition to our newly launched on-line show, View From The Sidelines, you will once again find a weekly breakdown of every game in the CFL, as well as the power rankings. All are available to use as a promotional tool for your business. For all the details click here.

In the meantime sit back and let’s get set for kick-off!

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