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

CFLCFL training camp preview: The West

Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 | 04:16 PM

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B.C. Lions quarterback Travis Lulay fires a pass during the 2011 CFL season.  He's expected to only get better this year. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. Lions quarterback Travis Lulay fires a pass during the 2011 CFL season. He's expected to only get better this year. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

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There hasn't been a training camp in the Canadian Football League like this for quite a while.

Out west, new head coaches in B.C. and Saskatchewan lead the way, the former a major move as it means Wally Buono is off the sidelines.

Stories are everywhere. Here are some of them:

There hasn't been a training camp in the Canadian Football League like this for quite a while.

Out west, new head coaches in B.C. and Saskatchewan lead the way, the former a major move as it means Wally Buono is off the sidelines.

Stories are everywhere. Here are some of them:

B.C. Lions

Last year: 11-7, first in the West, won the Grey Cup

Pre-season schedule: June 13 vs. Saskatchewan, June 21 at Edmonton.

Wally Buono is now the full-time general manager, coming off the sidelines for the first time after 22 seasons (five Grey Cups) and he's moved Mike Benevides (pride of Central Tech in Toronto) into the head coaching role.

Rich Stubler comes in to take over the defence and Jacques "It's always his fault" Chapdelaine is back as one of the league's best offensive coordinators.

The Lions first job is to get QB Travis Lulay and RB Andrew Harris through camp healthy and ready to go, and that means you won't see a lot of them in pre-season games.

Buono has found so many star quarterbacks in out-of-the-way places, it's always fun to look a what he's got in camp. With Jarious Jackson gone to Toronto, Mike Reilly (Central Washington) moves up as the back-up.

Newcomer Thomas DeMarco, from that football factory known as Old Dominion, a school that just brought football back in 2009 after 58 years, is a complete unknown.

Perfect Wally QB.

Lions have to find a wide receiver who can catch, so the inside guys don't have to do all the work, and that might be Darnell Jenkins, a 29 year old rookie veteran of four NFL teams.

On defence, Brent Johnson has retired after 11 years at end, Davis Sanchez did the same from defensive back.

Lots of new faces here, including Byron Parker and Lin-J Shell from Toronto, who add to an already strong backfield.

Josh Bell is one of three imports brought in to fight for work back there as well.

Calgary Stampeders

Last year: 11-7, third in the West, lost semi to Edmonton

Pre-season schedule: June 15 vs. Edmonton, June 22 at Saskatchewan

It's all about Drew Tate, out there in Calgary's camp.

The former backup QB took over the reins on Oct. 21 after three seasons of clip board holding, and he made three starts, plus the west final, showing enough that he's been handed the starting job as Henry Burris goes east to Hamilton.

It's been reliably reported that over the off-season Mr. Tate took piano lessons, and he's now looking for dance lessons. Giggle if you want, but have you noticed how many National Football League stars have won Dancing with the Stars?

Must be something to it.

Kevin Glenn comes from the Ti-Cats as the backup, and that's good insurance for coach, general manager, chief cook, bottle washer, chooser of the energy drink flavour John Hufnagel.

Behind him is Bo Levi Mitchell, a young man known as The Gunslinger, from Eastern Washington. Sounds like a CFL QB, certainly. He has great college stats.

They'll be working in receiver Chris Bauman, signed as a free agent, but overall the offence isn't a worry, other than getting them to hang onto the pigskin, not give it to the other guy.

New defensive coordinator Rick Campbell will be teaching a different style, not taking nearly so many aggressive chances as Chris Jones (now in Toronto) did.

DeVone Claybrooks, just retired off the defensive line to take over coaching the unit, has a project in first draft pick Ameet Pall.

Edmonton Eskimos

Last year: 11-7, second in the West, lost in the division final

Pre-season schedule: June 15 at Calgary, June 21 vs. B.C.

He's had just 20 starts in six seasons, has thrown 29 interceptions to 31 touchdowns during that time, is 28 years old and now moves in as Edmonton's starting quarterback after coming over from Toronto to replace a legend named Ricky Ray.

Not much for Steven Jyles to do this training camp, except learn a completely new offence, get to know all his weapons and convince the Eskies fans this wasn't a lousy idea that's going to blow up in GM Eric Tillman's face.

Kerry Joseph, all 39 years of him, is in as the backup pivot.

Another worry for last year's surprise (OK, shock) team is that running back Jerome Messam, the league's outstanding Canadian, has gone to Miami in the NFL and may, or may not, be cut in time to return and help out later in the season.

So somewhere among former starter Calvin McCarty, Hugh Charles, John Goebel and Cory Ross, they have to find a runner.

Rich Stubler has moved his travelling defensive coordinator road show to B.C. (his 10th career switch in the league) and will be replaced by Mark Nelson, who had the linebackers in 2011.

Here's the good news: This was a strong defence last year, and with the addition of Rashad Jeanty, back from the NFL, can get better.

So it's all eyes on the attack.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

Last year: 5-13, last in the West

Pre-season schedule: June 13 at B.C., June 22 vs. Calgary

Riders are introducing a new head coach for the second straight training camp (Corey Chamblin), hoping this time it works out a little better than the Greg Marshall months, and his panicky firing.

Right off, Chamblin has a major rebuilding job on the offensive line after Gene Makowsky retired to politics and two others simply retired.

In are Dominic Picard, from Toronto, and Brendon Labatte, from Winnipeg, and both know what they're doing. There's a wide-open job at left tackle. Ben Heenan, the first overall draft pick, would like a starting job.

Running back will be fought between Yvenson Bernard, Louis Rankin, DeShawn Wynn, or someone no-one else wanted. There are receivers to catch the ball.

On defence, Odell Willis, in from the Bombers, has to be worked in at end, and they'll also be keeping a close eye on Brent Hawkins, who was expected to start last season but missed the whole thing after getting hurt in 2011 camp.

Linebacking and defensive backs have lots of holes to fill, so the pre-season games are going to be crucial. Oh, and they have to rebuild the special teams as well.

Long days and nights at the University of Regina.

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