After the first four days of BC Lions training camp, there is a lot of positives to take from the sessions. It’s also obvious that there is much work to do between now and July 4th, when the the club opens the 2010 season in Edmonton.
The club has found some nice talent in some areas of need, but there are certainly some concerns. In this report we’ll take a quick look at the key positions on offense so far. This is from our observations and restricted access. It should be noted that the Lions have restricted fans to the stands for the first time in several years, so we are a good distance away depending on where the drills are. For instance, the offensive line is often taken to a separate field that does not provide for a good view from the stands.
These observations are from four days and seven sessions of training camp.
Casey Printers started camp looking sharp and confident. But the last day and a half has seen a step backwards. He often scrambles for a big gain, but it means little when no one is allowed to hit you. Printers has shown visible signs of frustration at times, but as the club’s new leader he needs to get back on the saddle and onto the next play and rally the troops when things aren’t going right. He’s had good velocity on the ball and good accuracy for the most part. He looks quick and agile and judging on the pressure the defensive line has gotten on him in practice he’ll need those skills, especially early on as the offensive line takes time to gel into a unit. The backups haven’t shown as much. Jarious Jackson’s velocity looks a bit off. He was shut down from throwing in one session, possibility a maintenance day on his shoulder. Travis Lulay has also struggled with his accuracy. Both have had good sessions, but the consistency is not there. Fourth arm Kyle Parrish is getting reps, but he’s done nothing to suggest he’ll be moving up in the QB pecking order.
One of the biggest questions heading into camp was the status of the offensive line, and from what we can see it remains a question. The Lions sent Jason Jimenez packing and are moving Sherko Haji-Rasouli on the right side, and last year’s practice roster tackle Dumane Duckett will is lining up on the left. In between the tackles are Daren Heerspink, Jon Hameister-Ries and pre-camp newly appointed centre Dean Valli.
The unit is going to take some time to gel, and that is pretty evident on a lot of the drills so far. The club’s mandate has been to be a more physical club this season, and judging by the skirmishes we’ve seen this week, that aspect is certainly evident. But there are concerns, particularly at the tackles and many drills seem to see defensive ends in the backfield quickly. None of the players the Lions have brought in have looked particularly impressive or a threat to supplant the starters listed above, and that has to be a concern if the current lineup proves not good enough. Dane Randolph and Jovan Olafioye have not impressed to date, but have been working exclusively with the backup unit, as the team is obviously hoping to give the chosen starters that gel time we spoke of earlier. Angus Reid is competing hard in a new backup role, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him starting again at some point as Valli continues to evolve in the position. Justin Sorensen seems to have take the more physical plea from Wally to heart and has been very physical at camp, including the domination of Jeremy Gibbs in a heated exchange that saw “Walby Junior” land two heavy punches before teammates could separate them.
The Lions have brought in some nice talent here and it compliments what they already had. That said, Jamal Robertson has separated himself from the pack, and as things stand will be the starting running back on July 4th. It’s who will back him up that becomes interesting. Jamall Lee is lining up at fullback in camp along with the large and quick Jerome Messam. Imports Yonus Davis and Toddrick Pendland have both had some success, but the player pushing Robertson the most is junior star Andrew Harris, who didn’t look out of place at camp last year. Harris has been consistently good and is getting lots of reps and he’s also seen some time on kick returns. The offense has some new looks this year and the possibilities are encouraging for anyone thinking the Lions may be abandoning the running game this year.
The Lions have brought in some nice talent here. Almost every receiver has had their moments, and a few have had some they should have caught. Newcomer Tony Washington has been very impressive, pretty much catching everything thrown his way. Kerry Reed has shown some nice speed, as has Darius Passmore and Steven Black. Matt Chapdelaine has proven he belongs in camp and has had a fairly solid four days, which will hopefully give the kid a break from some fans thinking he’s getting a free ride. Last year’s practice roster Terence Scott was injured early in camp and much to this fans dismay hasn’t been a factor. Nate Binder and Akeem Foster have had a tough time getting noticed.
Amongst the veterans, you can be assured that Emmanuel Arceneaux has come back to improve on his great rookie campaign. He’s easily been the class of the receivers thus far and looks to be headed for a dominant season. On the other end of the spectrum, Derick Armstrong has been a disappointment in the sessions we’ve seen. Too many drops for what you’re used to seeing from Armstrong who is usually pretty sure-handed. Paris Jackson was looking strong before an injury which has kept him out of two sessions as of this post. O’Neil Wilson has had a nice camp and Geroy is looking as gifted as ever. He even got a rude awakening at camp by Tad Crawford who caught him over the middle in the air. It will be tough for a rookie import to crack this receiving core, but if you’re looking for an early candidate for a surprise cut, Armstrong needs to show more.
What’s the outlook?
The Lions look to have added some nice packages to the offense and it looks like there is a lot of speed to choose from. The offensive line is going to be a key, and with a few new twists to the offense thrown into the mix the Lions may need a few weeks to gel and hope the defence can give them the luxury to do so. The recievers and running backs look solid and if Casey Printers and the offensive line can get cohesive the Lions could have a lot of weapons at their disposal.
Next time, we’ll look at the defence and special teams.
Bombs over BC? Fans of the BC Lions fans will hope so after the club announced a contract extension for quarterback Casey Printers Sunday evening. In keeping with club policy, terms of the deal were not released.
“Casey has demonstrated that he’s not only a gifted and exciting quarterback, but that he is capable of being one of our core leaders moving forward into next season,” said Lions GM and head coach Wally Buono.
Printers rejoined the Lions during the 2009 season, and finished the year as the club’s starter after both Jackson and Pierce were lost to injury. He finished the season completing 43 of 68 passing attempts for 686 yards and three TD’s, showing flashes of the 2004 Printers that won the league’s most outstanding player award.
Despite terms of the deal not being released, it can be assumed that Printers will be paid in line with other CFL starting quarterbacks, meaning the club will likely making another announcement in the near future regarding the release or trade of one it’s QB’s. It’s an almost certainty that one of Jarious Jackson or Buck Pierce will likely be gone come training camp. With Pierce’s history of shoulder problems and concussions, he may be the one on the move, but there is no way the Lions can carry three pivots at the dollars they are making.
Printers is happy to be staying with the Lions. “As excited as I was to return last season, I am even more ecstatic to be signing this extension and getting an opportunity to contribute to the Lions in any way I can,” said Printers. “We have an outstanding group of players on both offense and defense that will make us very difficult to play against in 2010.”
The Toronto Argonauts may be doing a little pre-spring cleaning after announcing they had released quarterbacks Kerry Joseph, Cody Pickett and LB Zeke Moreno on Sunday. Generally teams don’t release their two best QB’s unless they have a plan in place, and according to Sportsnet’s Arash Madani on Twitter, they may just be finalizing the fine print on such a plan, and it may involve the BC Lions.
Madani suggested today that the Argos and Lions are working on a deal that would see Jarious Jackson heading to the Argos. He also suggested that the Lions might be close to signing LB Barrin Simpson, and both DE Riall Johnson (Montreal) and Teyo Johnson (Calgary).
“A lot of noise BC + Tor working to send Argos J. Jackson. Braley optics factor an issue. Murmurs Barrin S., Rial+Teyo Johnson becoming Lions”
Madani’s fellow columnist Perry Lefko seems to back up the speculation in this article today. While the dealing of Jackson makes sense in the fact that the Lions will have to cut lose a QB to re-sign Casey Printers to a starter’s contract, it is surprising it’s Jackson and not Buck Pierce being dangled if that’s the case. While Pierce is younger and perhaps a more complete QB when healthy, the problem lies in the fact he can’t stay off the injured list. Jackson is coming off a rotator cuff injury, while Pierce has had both shoulder and concussion issues. Both are good coming off the bench in games, so you would think the Lions would take less risk by unloading Pierce.
It’s been less than a month since David Braley purchased the Toronto Argonauts, and the fact he may be bringing a quarterback from his other club will be looked at closely by several parties. BC fans will be wanting to make sure the Lions receive decent compensation in return for a quality QB. Argos fans will be watching to see what the Lions get in return, and teams looking for QB’s will be watching to see if the Argos got their new starting QB for fair market value.
At the time that Braley bought the Argos, both he and the league said all the right things about maintaining the integrity of the game. I believe them both when they say that, but it doesn’t mean all the parties involved won’t be looking at any deals between the two clubs. Stay tuned!
Radio station CKNW is reporting that quarterback Jarious Jackson could be done for the season with what is speculated to be a torn rotator cuff on his throwing shoulder.
The Lions have neither confirmed or denied the report, saying only that Jackson had underwent an MRI Thursday. Jackson has missed the last two days of practice and Buck Pierce will get the start Saturday against Toronto.
Pierce’s injury woes are well known and he’s coming off a break after suffering his second concussion of the year before the bye week.
Jackson’s injury means Zac Champion will likely be added to the active roster, and speculation will now begin if a phone call could be made to former Lion Casey Printers, who has yet to find a new home after being released by the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Buono has never ruled out bringing Printers back to the club where he had his most success, winning the leagues most outstanding player award in 2004.
Do you believe in Karma? Well, I am sure that fans of the Montreal Alouettes do today, after their club snatched a victory from the BC Lions in the final minute by a score of 28-24 in front of the 91st straight sellout at Molson Pervical Stadium in Montreal.
Last weekend a league error robbed the Als of a touchdown that would have potentially tied the game, but this week there would be no question, as Avon Cobourne crossed the goal line with 50 seconds left on the clock to put the Alouettes ahead to stay.
The game was the story of two halves, with the defenses on both teams dictating the tempo in the first half, and the offenses taking over in the second to make for an exciting game that went down to the wire for the second straight week.
The Lions started off well, with an interception by corner Dante Marsh on the Als first drive, but the offense couldn’t take advantage of the play, and the teams traded punts for the first quarter, and Lions kicker Sean Whyte hit the upright on a 27 yard field goal. The two teams entered the 2nd quarter scoreless.
The Alouettes opened the scoring at 8:53 of the second quarter after a 5 play 72 yard dive culminated in an Anthony Calvillo completion to Jamal Richardson in the end zone to give the Als a 7-0 lead, the teams would three field goals, two by the Als that would see the score 13-3 Montreal at the half.
In the second half the Lions started things off with a bang and a turnover, sacking Anthony Calvillo and setting up great field position for the Lions. The Lions would strike on the next play with Jackson hitting former Alouette O’Neill Wilson in the end zone to make it a three-point game.
The Lions got closer when Larry Taylor bobbled a punt that was recovered by Jason Three plays later, Grice-Mullen scored on a one-yard reverse at 3:37 of the fourth.
Then on their very next possession, the Jarious Jackson hit Geroy Simon on a 43 yard catch and run, and the Lions has a 24-20 lead late in the fourth. The Als got what would be an important single off a Duval punt, and then facing a second and long on their own 29 yard line, Calvillo found a wide open Kerry Watkins on a 56 yard strike that would set the stage for the Als to complete the last minute comeback.
Wally Buono agreed, that was the key play of the game. ““I thought the big thing was making that key play on second down,” said B.C. coach Wally Buono. “I think if we could have stopped them there, the game would have been ours.” said Buono, who missed a chance to set the all-time CFL coaching record in his home town in front of friends and family.
Mark Trestman wasn’t so sure how much last weeks result helped his club.
“This game had nothing to do with vindication or getting our just desserts,” said Trestman. “This was a team that got off the plane and worked very hard this week.
“They played hard and we played hard and we were fortunate enough to win.”
- The loss denied Buono a chance to become the most successful coach in CFL history. He remains tied with Don Matthews at 231 career victories.
- The Als held Martell Mallet, who had a team-record 213 rushing yards last week to 66 yards on 14 carries.
- Jarious Jackson completed 16 passes for 228 yards, including 128 yards on seven catches by Geroy Simon.
- The Lions wore their retor uniforms for the the second time this season, both times on the road. It sure would be nice if the hometown fans got a glimpse of them at BC Place.
If the goal for the BC Lions coming into this game was not to let Michael Bishop beat them, they were arguably successful. Bishop was at best merely adequate, but good enough to keep the Lions defence looking confused and hapless as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers behind a career night from Fred Reid ran roughshod over the hosts and snapped the BC winning streak at two with a decisive 37-10 triumph.
Things started promisingly enough for BC. After the opening kickoff, the Lions held the Bombers to a two-and-out, and Jarious Jackson picked up where things left off last week, completing four of five and benefiting from a pass interference call on the fifth as the eighty-six yard drive was capped by a spectacular, one handed catch by Emmanuel Arceneaux from thirty-eight yards out for the touchdown.
Winnipeg answered quickly, though, with Fred Reid carrying five times on the nine play, seventy-five yard drive evening the score.
That name would be one the crowd at BC Place would tire of hearing long before the final gun sounded. Reid galloped for 260 yards of the nearly four hundred the Bombers would rack up on the ground against the BC defence.
By the time Javon Johnson returned a Jarious Jackson interception seventy-three yards with just over eight and a half minutes to play, it was all over but the final indignities, and BC Place was silenced and rapidly emptying out. After all, there are far better things to do in Vancouver on a late summer evening than watch the Lions struggle with futility.
Last week, Lions fans saw the other side of Jarious Jackson- coming on in relief of the injured Buck Pierce and rallying the troops for a come-from-behind victory in Toronto. Tonight, after falling behind before the end of the first quarter, Jackson seemed to be trying too hard and by the end of the third was pushing desperately and to no avail.
Then the turnovers started. Jackson was picked off twice in the fourth quarter, once by Barrin Simpson which was immediately followed by a fifty-two yard Reid run for a touchdown; the second time by Johnson.
The final stats looked better for Jackson than for Bishop- fifteen for twenty-four and a 185 yards before being injured and yielding to Travis Lulay (who ended up five for seven and eighty-nine yards), compared to Bishop’s eleven for twenty and a 131.
Tonight’s story wasn’t the quarterbacks, though. It was the Fred Reid show in Vancouver, and the complete inability of the Lions to stop the run. When it wasn’t Reid, it was Yvenson Bernard, who ran for a hundred and twelve yards of his own.
If there’s a bright spot, it’s that the Lions won’t lose next week, as they have the bye and two weeks to prepare for Montreal and the running of Avon Coburne. Ricky Foley led the orange-and-black defence with eight tackles, Arceneaux the receiving corps with nine catches for 158.
There are bound to be some tough moments in the press after tonight’s debacle, especially with the week off and home and home dates with the 7-1 Alouettes coming right on its heels. Tonight wasn’t pretty, but it’s one game out of eighteen. Unfortunately, at three and five, the number of lacklustre outings this squad can afford and still mount a credible push for the post-season is diminishing, and at very least the Lions have to roar in their remaining games, because getting man-handled just isn’t going to cut it.
Tonight at BC Place Stadium, Jarious Jackson will start another game for the BC Lions. It won’t be the first time, he has done so, but it could well be the most important start of his career if he hopes to regain the starters role.
There is no doubt Jackson has been one of the best back up QB’s in the league for a few years now. But as a starter he starts slowly and has often struggled. Getting pulled to start the 3rd quarter last week in Toronto irked Jackson, who returned to the game to lead the Lions to the win. One would have to think Jackson’s chances of securing starter status here are running out. With talk of Buck Pierce being re-evaluated after the bye week, Jackson must impress this week to have the club consider him as the number one QB, coming out of the break.
There is no doubt that Jackson posesses superior arm strength. An article in today’s Vancouver Province talks about the need for Jackson to develop and add a softer touch to his arsenal, to go along with his ability to get the ball to a receiver with zip, or go deep.
Friday is a big night for Jarious.
What are your thoughts? Let us know below, or in our forums!
It’s the week of dramatic finales in the CFL. After the Edmonton Eskimos stunned the Calgary Stampeders with an improbable touchdown strike in the waning seconds on Thursday, tonight the BC Lions rallied for a victory on the road in Hogtown.
After all but being left for dead at the half, down 19-7 and having nothing positive to show offensively other than a single 33-yard drive culminating in a Rolly Lumbala touchdown, the BC Lions stormed back to capsize the Toronto Argonauts and their hopes of capturing a victory at home walking away with a 36-28 victory.
The Toronto hopes looked good, with the Boatmen holding an eight point edge with just over six minutes to play, but Jarious Jackson seemed to have found a gap in the Argos’ defensive scheme in the second half- a susceptibility to long throws down the middle of the field.
Head Coach Wally Buono decided at the half to try to do something to shake the Lions’ offense up, electing to put third-stringer Travis Lulay behind centre to open the third quarter, to no avail, as the Lions sandwiched a pair of two-and-outs around an 11-play, 84-yard Toronto drive culminating in one of Justin Medlock’s seven field goals of the night.
The Lions defence continued what seemed to be a policy of “bend but don’t break” in holding Toronto out of the end zone for most of the game, yielding only a single major, but came up with a game-changing two-and-out stop of the Argos which seemed to spark the rally.
Lulay only played two more snaps before being the second BC quarterback knocked out of the game. Jarious Jackson returned to the game and proceeded to take the team in for six on a 35-yard strike to Paris Jackson on a post pattern to make it 22-14.
After a bad penalty call against Barron Miles looked to have the Argos seriously threatening on the ensuing possession, Ricky Foley shut the door and forced Toronto to settle for a 52-yard field goal from Medlock to close the third quarter.
The Jackson to Jackson connexion struck again under a minute into the fourth, with Paris reeling in a pass for a 57 yard gain, setting up another Jackson to Jackson pass two plays later to close the gap to 25-21, and suddenly rather than being the one-sided affair it looked like at the half, the Lions were in striking distance.
The mental lapses which plagued the first few games of the season almost struck again on the conversion attempt, with the interception by Jason Shivers returned 51 yards. Fortunately, Shivers was brought down by Jarious Jackson, back-checking to make amends for his error.
Ten Argo plays and seventy-six yards later, the Lions forced Toronto to settle for yet another field goal to set the gap at seven points with 6:33 left in the fourth quarter.
A pair of pass interference flags against the Argos paved the way for another Jackson touchdown toss, this one to Emmanuel Arcineaux, and even after the two-point conversion failed, the gap was down to just a single point at 28-27.
The Lions’ defence roared again on the ensuing possession, forcing Argos’ quarterback Cody Pickett to take a loss of eight yards at the three-minute warning and holding Toronto to another key two-and-out capped by the only mistake Medlock would make all night- under-kicking his coverage resulting in a no-yards fifteen yard penalty on the punt, giving the Lions the ball back at midfield with 2:32 left on the clock.
Seven plays and two minutes and twenty-four seconds later, the Lions took the lead on a chip-shot field goal from Sean Whyte, making it 31-28 Lions with eight ticks later.
Not to be outdone in the heroics, the special teams unit put the exclamation mark on the game with Ryan Phillips walking into the end-zone after intercepting a lateral attempt from Reggie McNeal intended for Jamal Robertson, leaving just a Whyte conversion to register the final margin at 36-28.
This is still a Lions’ team with a lot of work to do as they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a week from today before heading into their bye week, but it’s a team which has now gotten up off the mat to string together a pair of victories. The offense can’t rely solely on the deep ball to get them through the season, but is going to have to find a way to fire on all cylinders getting the attack balanced although they did a good job identifying the gap in the Argos’ secondary and effectively exploiting it. The offensive line seemed to rally from a shaky start, but with Jarious Jackson at the helm the coverage isn’t quite as essential as with the less-mobile Buck Pierce.
The defence performed well in keeping Toronto out of the red zone for much of the game, but it would be nice to see them yield fewer yards against.
Three weeks ago, this game would have had a different outcome. Tonight, it probably should have, but Lion fans should take heart in the victory and in the fact that their team hung tough and refused to fold.
Not a pretty start, nor the one most BC Lions fans were hoping to see, but not quite time to panic yet. After all, the Lions are only two points out of first place in the West, and have less of a spread between points scored and yielded than both the Edmonton Eskimos and the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, both at 2-2.
The Lions know they have been inconsistent and can do better. Both slotback Geroy Simon and cornerback Dante Marsh have spoken out about the rough start and their determination to do better in the remaining fourteen regular season games.
“Last night may have been the most embarrassing game I have ever been a part of…. We have to play better as a team not different units,” Marsh commented. “We have to have a sense of urgency and play more consistently on offense, defense, and special teams. Period. There are no excuses we have to win and win now. We are not rebuilding it doesn’t matter who isn’t here we are going to win with who we have on our roster. We will get this thing turned around and headed in the right direction.”
Simon echoes the same sentiments after Friday’s loss at home to the Calgary Stampeders, “Last night was pitiful. If we want to be relevant this year, we must play better and never put on a horrible performance like that again. Don’t feel sorry for us though, we will get it turned around.”
They’ll have the chance to do just that this Friday as they travel to Ivor Wynne Stadium to take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
There are bright spots for the Lions statistically, showing that it may just be taking time to jell as a team which has taken a toll on the win-loss record. The team tops the CFL in passing touchdowns with eight, is tied with the Montreal Alouettes for second most touchdowns overall (12), one back of the Stampeders.
Martell Mallett leads the team in all-purpose yardage and yards from scrimmage, good for sixth and third in the league respectively and slotbacks Paris Jackson and Geroy Simon hold the sixth and seventh spots in receiving yardage..
On the defensive side of the ball, things are a little less auspicious, but there are some bright points. Ryan Phillips has had a pair of interceptions, one of which was returned sixty yards for a major; Ricky Foley has three sacks; and Jason Arakgi is tied for the league lead with eight tackles on special teams.
The defence, though, in particular seems to have yet to come together as a unit. The team ranks last in net and average yards against rushing and in pass completion percentage against. They’re not alone in futility, unfortunately. The offensive line has been at best suspect, yielding a league-leading sixteen sacks, which may be why Buck Pierce and company have tossed a league-worst seven interceptions through four weeks.
This week, though, the offensive line may catch a bit of a break, as they go up against a Ti-Cats D-line which has not had much success rushing the quarterback, bringing up the rear in both sacks and passing touchdowns against allowed. If Heerspink, Valli, Reid, Haji-Rasouli and Jiminez can give Pierce time to throw the ball downfield and can keep opening holes for Mallett, the unit may have time to come together a bit before the team returns home to look to avenge the Week 1 loss against the Riders.
The return of CFL football is upon us, and as training camps break across the league, all eight teams are setting their sights on winning the Grey Cup. For the first time in a couple of seasons, the BC Lions are going to have a very competitive training camp. The off-season saw the team release several veterans, many of the big name variety in an effort to build a younger, faster team. Here’s our 2 cents about where the battles will take place at camp and who to keep your eye on. In part 1 of our training camp primer, we’ll examine the offense. Read more