CFL training camp preview: The East | Football | CBC Sports

CFLCFL training camp preview: The East

Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 | 03:50 PM

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Montreal Alouettes' quarterback Anthony Calvillo will once again to be the key to the Alouette's success.  (The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes) Montreal Alouettes' quarterback Anthony Calvillo will once again to be the key to the Alouette's success. (The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)

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As training camp opens in the east, two teams feature new head coaches, and there are two big name quarterbacks coming in from the west.

At the same time, an old performer is getting ready to answer the bell once again, and last year's Cup finalist has holes to fill.

As training camp opens in the East, two teams feature new head coaches, and there are two big name quarterbacks coming in from the west.

At the same time, an old performer is getting ready to answer the bell once again, and last year's Cup finalist has holes to fill.

Here's at look at the East camps:

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Last year: 8-10, third in the East, lost division final

Pre-season schedule: June 13 vs. Toronto, June 20 at Winnipeg

New head coach George Cortez is taking his usual George Patton approach - attack, attack, attack.

Viewed from above, the offence Cortez brings with him through Calgary, by way of two years with the Buffalo Bills, can look rather complicated, but there's no arguing with success.

Fortunately, Cortez has a starting QB in Henry Burris, 36, who knows all about it from his own Stamps days, so that learning curve will be short. The rest of the offence is going to be spending a lot of late nights studying the playbook.

Three key additions to the attack are slot Andy Fantuz, runner Martell Mallett, and wide out Sam Giguere, and they will take the training camp time to get to know their pivot.

Rebuilding the offensive line key.

Don't worry about the linebackers and the defensive backs, they're fine, but two new defensive ends are on the docket after Justin Hickman went to the NFL and Stevie "Wonder what happened to him?" Baggs was cut.

Kicking legend Paul Osbaldiston is in to work with that group, including Josh Bartel, an Aussie with Rules Football background.

A fascinating pickup is Tate Forcier, late of Michigan, who fell out with the coaches, went to San Diego State, had academic problems and now finds himself in Hamilton hoping to be a backup with a future.

Montreal Alouettes

Last year: 10-8, second in the East, lost semi-final

Pre-season schedule: June 14 vs. Winnipeg, June 19 at Toronto.

QB Anthony Calvillo turns 40 in August, and that means you won't be seeing him in any exhibition games unless Marc Trestman loses his head and lets himself be talked into it.

Adrian McPherson, who has been waiting in the wings almost as long as Prince Charles, will get the majority of the snaps until the regular season begins and he goes back to third and short duties.

AC has been showing signs of age in recent years, however, so McPherson may have to step in at any time. Get him lots of work.

Marcus Brady is the new offensive coordinator, but that job tends to be more of an assistant to Trestman than one with any real control.

When you have stars such as Jamel Richardson, the league's top receiver, and Brandon Whittaker, the CFL's best runner, hanging around, there isn't a lot of work to do. Rookies don't make this offence often because it's so darn tough to learn.

They do need new fullback and a new wide receiver.

Where the work has to be done is on defence, one that was decimated by injury in 2011, and the rebuilding falls to Jeff Reinebold, back in the CFL after four years at Southern Methodist.

Linebackers Anwar Stewart and Ramon Guzman are gone. Lineman Eric Wilson also. But all those defensive backs that missed lots of time last season are healthy, and as GM Jim Popp rebuilds his import content, there are lots of other guys around pushing the returners.

Toronto Argonauts

Last year: 6-12, missed playoffs

Pre-season schedule: June 13 at Hamilton, June 19 vs. Montreal

New head coach Scott Milanovich has a headache right off the bat: How do you get new star QB Ricky Ray, in from Edmonton, ready for the season while not exposing him too much in camp and exhibition games?

Tough chore. Jarious Jackson, a future coach himself in the league, has come in from B.C. to be the backup, and rookie Trevor Harris, of tiny Edinboro University, has to get help too.

With Dominic Picard gone west, and Rob Murphy retired, there is work to do refreshing the offensive line so Ray has protection.

Running back and special teams are fine, but Milanovich has to find a way to not only dress runner Chad Kackert every game, but get him touches. He's too talented to waste.

Cory Boyd has to be taught not to lead with his head all the time, so he can use his considerable skills at running back for all 18 games, plus playoffs.

New defensive boss Chris Jones brings an aggressive, attacking style, and that means much less match coverage and much more man to man, so out goes Byron Parker and Lin-J Shell (to B.C.), and in come a bunch of new defenders in the backfield who have to learn quickly.

Willie Pile has retired at linebacker, but Jason Pottinger is back healthy, and Jordan Younger will be counted to help settle a bunch of new faces into the backfield.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Last year: 10-8, first in the East, lost Grey Cup game

Pre-season schedule: June 14 at Montreal, June 20 vs. Hamilton

GM Joe Mack and coach Paul LaPolice are taking some heat in the 'Peg for making few changes from last year's group that finished 3-7, won the East final and then were taken to school by B.C. in the Grey Cup game.

Still, an argument can be made that they've made so many changes over the previous three years, a little time to gel from a line up that has talent might be in order.

Right off, there are four QBs on this roster who, because of injuries, showed they can play in this league. Buck Pierce is the starter while healthy, with Alex Brink, Justin Goltz and Joey Elliott behind him.

One of those will be on someone else's roster at the end of camp and another is going to be a slightly peeved third stringer.

Nice problem, of course.

Fred Reid is gone from the backfield, and the job is absolutely Chris Garrett's. He was cut last year after camp, by the way, before coming back on an emergency basis and emerging as a future star.

Questions: Who replaces Brendon LaBatte (gone to Saskatchewan) at guard? Or Greg Carr (Edmonton) at wide receiver? Or Beautiful Old Doug Brown (retired) at D-line? Or Obby Khan (retired) at centre?

First pick Tyson Pencer has been signed and is in camp trying for a spot on the offensive line. 

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