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Lefsrud Out Of Retirement

After covering the CFL for as long as I have, I find I cheer for players moreso than teams sometimes. . It was great to see the Edmonton Eskimos bring offensive lineman Kevin Lefsrud out of retirement for the upcoming season. Lefsrud is a "gamer" who has won three Grey Cups in his career. He's also a former University of Saskatchewan Huskie. He's one of the great guys in this league.....it's good to see him back.

Hope Kerry's Running Shoes are Ready!(Cuz He's Gonna Need Em)

Like just about every-one else, I'm excited about the new regime and what it has to offer but I'm also scared about something which could sink this team in '07. The hoggies! This offensive line has been ripped apart and is being re-built in a sudden jolt which could prove to be a fatal blow. Guards Fred Childress(retired) and Andrew Greene(salary dump) along with tackle Charles "O-Lay!" Thomas(salary dump) are gone. That's 3 starters! 60 percent of the O-line, GONEZO! Although Greene and Childress have been breaking down physically, they were still very productive in their later playing days and say what you want about Thomas(and I know many of us certainly have), but Charlie recovered nicely from his Matador start to the year and really settled in to play well down the stretch when the Roughriders really needed him the most. I like the additions of Mike Abou-Mechrek, Wayne Smith and John Feugill. Chris Best would be great if they ever get him. But too much change too fast isn't good for the system. The Edmonton Eskimos and their O-line learned that the hard way last year.

Bye Charlie

I can't really say I'm surprised that the Riders have released offensive lineman Charles Thomas. He was in my mind the weak link of a fine offensive line. There was a reason why the Rider Nation affectionately dubbed him as "Turnstile". I took my own version of that with a friendly "OLE" whenever his name was mentioned. The thing is that Thomas was a good run blocker but when it came to the pass game he struggled and struggled mightily. Remember the two point convert against Toronto when Kerry Joseph had no chance to do anything with the football because he was under siege from the Argo player that Thomas was supposed to block. This wasn't the first time number 53 had been exposed. With all avenues seeming to point at the Riders reviving their aerial game, it was a move that simply had to be made. This also means Kent Austin can use an all-Canadian offensive line. Gene Makowsky and Jeremy O'Day will be joined by Wayne Smith, Mike Abou-Mechrek and most likely Chris Best if he signs and plays well during camp. Rob Lazeo will once again serve as the 6th man---and there may be no better 6th man in the league than Laz. This is a move that had to be done---I just wonder why it took so long to do it.

 

Rider Additions and Deletions

Newstalk Radio's Brendan McGuire gives us an update on two additions and two deletions to the roster.

Thomas O'Layed!

Offensive tackle Charles Thomas will not be back for 5th season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The veteran lineman was released Thursday along with receiver/kick returner Craig Yeast. The 2 were dropped to make room for rookie cornerbacks David Heard Dre Dokes to be signed to new contracts and compete for positions in a revamped secondary during next month's training camp.

Salary Cap Update

The Roughriders have complained about salary cap problems all offseason, and now we take a closer look.

Why Ottawa?

Can anyone explain to me why this league continues to look in to putting a team back in Ottawa? It continues to fail, and yet the league seems determined to having a team there. If there was enough corporate support and enough of a fan base there, there wouldn't be such an off again on again existence.

I say move on, and consider other spots for a 9th team, and let's forget about Ottawa. It's too much trouble.

What postion on the Rider roster concerns you the most?

Kerry Joseph "has to be better" says Austin

We break down Kent Austin's challenge to his new quarterback.

Welcome Back Donnie

Donnie Ruiz will be back wearing Rider green in 2007. The free agent defensive back inking a new deal with the club. He dressed for 14 games in 2006 and started two games at safety. The Riders also announcing the signing of defensive lineman Andrew Browning. The Boise State product will be one of the candidates trying to fill the spot left open when Nate Davis was cut.

Flutie In To Hall

It is a no-brainer to induct Doug Fluite in to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. It could be argued that Flutie was inducted based on three Grey Cup championships and six MVP awards in his time in Canada. For me he deserves to be in for his promotion of the CFL. Flutie has always said that the CFL put the fun back in football for him and that people in Canada didn't realize what a good thing they had with CFL football. He's dead on.

Congrats Doug, you are deserving of this honor.

Riders Add Quarterback

The Riders signed import quarterback Chad Friehauf on Wednesday. Financial details were not released. Friehauf, 6'6" 215lbs, attended the Denver Broncos training camp as a free agent in 2005 after a stellar career at the Colorado School of Mines. He was awarded the Harlon Hill trophy as the top division 2 player. He finsihed as the schools all time leader in passing yards, touchdown passes and completions.

Friehauf was born and rained in Golden, Colorado. He also played two years of basketball at Colorado Mines.

A Visit From the Reaper

Reggie Hunt checked in with Drew and myself to talk about the long off-season and how ready he is for 2007 to get underway on the Drew Remenda Sports Show Wednesday night. If you missed it, here it is.......

I Just Don't Know

With Rider training camp just a few days away, most people I run into want my assessment as to where this team will finish in 2007. Will the first year of the Austin-Tillman regime bring immediate success or not. The answer is always the same......I just don't know. On paper, the BC Lions still look to be the class of the division if not the league. This team hasn't really changed from the team that walked off the CanadInns Stadium turf last November with the Grey Cup in its grips. The Stampeders have the same key players and Edmonton has vastly improved. The Riders have lost Kenton Keith, Nate Davis and Andrew Greene but I think they have found or will find that the culture in the locker-room is now different. I won't say it was a country club atmosphere with Danny and Roy around but the one thing that lacked under those two was accountability. It seemed at times wins and losses didn't matter to the guys with the "S" on their helmet. If players come to camp this year with that mindset, it won't take them long to be looking for work elsewhere. This Rider team is talented and an appearance in the Grey Cup or a victory at the Grey Cup would not surprise me but it also wouldn't surprise me if this team didn't make the playoffs because of the competitive nature of the West. It will make divisional games even more important than ever. If the Riders can get the upper hand on their western foes, the home playoff game drought could end. If the Lions, Stamps and Edmonton get the upper hand on the Riders, it will be a long off-season. Here's hoping for the best.....but while doing that, prepare for the worst.

Conference Calls...Great Idea

Times are changing not only in Saskatchewan with a new GM and a new coach, but in the CFL front office as well. I have heard nothing but good things about the new commissioner Mark Cohon. Tom Wright will probably go down as one of the best bosses this league has ever had. If Cohon can keep up or even surpass Wright's performance in the commish's chair this league will be stronger than ever. I believe the keys to Cohon's success will hinge on not being pushed around by 2-3 owners that don't do what's best for the league, and to maintain and look for new corporate partners.

All eight teams are allowing the national media to dial in via confernece call to start the season. The Riders were the first up on Tuesday. What a terrific idea this is. Media members from across the country now have access to each and every team. (You can listen the Riders conference here on the Green Zone.) There is no need to overthink what this league has to do. If it can increase the media's access to teams and players, then the league itself will benefit. These calls do that. What a great job by the CFL's front office.

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