TEVAUGHN CAMPBELL RUNS THE 40-YARD DASH IN 4.36 SECONDS PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jamie Dykstra   
Monday, 30 March 2015 15:11

TORONTO - On the final day of the National CFL Combine presented by Reebok, the top-50 prospects from Canada took to the football field to test their speed, agility and partake in one-on-one drills.

Tevaughn Campbell set a new CFL Combine electronic time record by running the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds. Prior to Campbell setting the new record, running back Shaquille Murray-Lawrence from UNLV broke the record an hour earlier by running forty yards in 4.41 seconds.

In the shuttle drill, linebacker Byron Archambault, yesterday's bench press leader, ran the fastest shuttle, 4.18 seconds.

Manitoba Bisons' receiver, Nic Demski set the pace in the three-cone drill by posting a time of 6.91 seconds.

The CFL Draft will be held on May 12, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. ET on TSN.

Below are the top-5 results from today's combine testing.

40-Yard Dash

Time (seconds)

Name

Position

School

Hometown

4.36

Tevaughn Cambell

Defensive Back

Regina

Toronto, ON

4.41

Shaquille Murray-Lawrence

Running Back

UNLV

Scarborough, ON

4.53

Kahlen Branning

Defensive Back

Regina

Moose Jaw, SK

4.55

Lemar Durant

Receiver

Simon Fraser

Coquitlam, BC

4.56

Nic Demski

Receiver

Manitoba

Winnipeg, MB

For all player results from the 40-yard dash drill, click here.

Shuttle

Time (seconds)

Name

Position

School

Hometown

4.18

Byron Archambault

Linebacker

Montreal

Montreal, QC

4.19

Nic Demski

Receiver

Manitoba

Winnipeg, MB

4.25

Dexter Janke

Defensive Back

Okanagan Sun

Edmonton, AB

4.28

Mikhail Davidson

Receiver

Montreal

Montreal, QC

4.31

Anthony Coady

Defensive Back

Montreal

Montreal, QC

For all player results from the shuttle drill, click here.

3-Cone

Time (seconds)

Name

Position

School

Hometown

6.91

Nic Demski

Reciever

Manitoba

Winnipeg, MB

7.06

Phillip Enchill

Receiver

Montreal

Montreal, QC

7.09

Chris Ackie

Defensive Back

Wilfrid Laurier

Cambridge, ON

7.16

Byron Archambault

Linebacker

Montreal

Montreal, QC

7.22

Anthony Coady

Defensive Back

Montreal

Montreal, QC

For all player results from the 3-cone drill, click here.

 
BYRON ARCHAMBAULT BENCHES 41 REPS AT NATIONAL CFL COMBINE PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jamie Dykstra   
Monday, 30 March 2015 15:06

TORONTO - On the opening day of the National CFL Combine presented by Reebok, the top-50 prospects in Canada had their strength and jumping ability tested.

In the morning segment, bench press was the lone event where Montreal Carabins' linebacker, Byron Archambault impressed by setting a new linebacker mark by recording 41 bench reps of 225 pounds. The 41 reps he notched also placed the Montreal, Que. native second on the all-time CFL Combine list, only trailing Michael Krill's 47 reps set in 2011.

Moving to the afternoon portion, Wilfrid Laurier defensive back, Chris Ackie shined. The Cambridge, Ont. native set the standard in both jumping events where he registered a record setting 10'11.50" broad jump measurement, as well as finishing the day with the highest vertical with 40".

Below are the top-5 results in each event.

Bench Press

Number of Reps

Name

Position

School

Hometown

41

Byron Archambault

Linebacker

Montreal

Montreal, QC

32

Ettore Lattanzio

Defensive Lineman

Ottawa

Nepean, ON

31

Matt Rea

Running Back

Michigan State

Rochester, MI

29

Christophe Normand

Running Back

Laval

Bromont, QC

27

Sean McEwen

Offensive Lineman

Calgary

Calgary, AB

For all player results from the bench press drill, click here.

Broad Jump

Distance

Name

Position

School

Hometown

10'11.5"

Chris Ackie

Defensive Back

Wilfrid Laurier

Cambridge, ON

10'9.75"

Tevaugh Campbell

Defensive Back

Regina

Toronto, ON

10'7.25"

Jake Harty

Wide Receiver

Calgary

Calgary, AB

10'4.00"

Melvin Abankwah

Running Back

Saint Mary's

Etobicoke, ON

10'2.75"

Adrian Clarke

Linebacker

Bishop's

Mississauga, ON

For all player results from the broad jump drill, click here.

Vertical Jump

Height

Name

Position

School

Hometown

40.0"

Chris Ackie

Defensive Back

Wilfrid Laurier

Cambridge, ON

38.5"

Tevaugh Campbell

Defensive Back

Regina

Toronto, ON

37.0"

Kahlen Branning

Defensive Back

Regina

Moose Jaw, SK

36.0"

Lemar Durant

Wide Receiver

Simon Fraser

Coquitlam, BC

36.0"

Kienan LaFrance

Running Back

Manitoba

Winnipeg, MB

For all player results from the vertical jump drill, click here.

Here is the full schedule for Sunday:

Sunday, March 29
Varsity Centre Bubble

8:10 a.m.        OL & DL: 40-yard Dash, Short Shuttle, 3-Cone, Individual & 1-on-1 Drills

9:40 a.m.        Long Snappers workout

10:00 a.m.     RB, LB, QB, K: 40-yard Dash, Short Shuttle, 3-Cone, Individual & 1-on-1 Drills

12:10 p.m.     REC & DB: 40-yard Dash, Short Shuttle, 3-Cone, Individual & 1-on-1 Drills

2:30 p.m.        Combine Completed

Players will be made available by request after the completion of all testing.

 
CFL News - Friday, March 27, 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jamie Dykstra   
Friday, 27 March 2015 19:22

CFL News

 


CFL

News - 24 Results

CFL Rules Committee pitches major changes - Article - TSN

www.tsn.ca - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:TSN.ca Staff

Permalink

CFL Rules Committee proposes changes for 2015 - Sportsnet.ca

www.sportsnet.ca - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:The Canadian Press

Permalink

Let's open it up! ; Rules committee agrees on big changes to increase scoring, decrease penalties

The Toronto Sun - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:KIRK PENTON
Page: S26

CFL looks to make converts more challenging

The Leader-Post (Regina) - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Murray Mccormick
Page: C1 / Front

Some pain then gain

The Toronto Sun - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:KIRK PENTON
Page: S26

CFL's defensive-pass interference rule wrongly characterized at NFL meeting ... Nine-point touchdowns? Yeah, right ... The Julian Edelman rule now in effect

The Toronto Sun - Wed Mar 25 2015
Byline:JOHN KRYK
Page: S13

CFL reportedly discussing changing PI rules, play clock, returns and converts | 55 Yard Line - Yahoo Sports Canada

ca.sports.yahoo.com - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Andrew Bucholtz

Permalink

Michael Sam sounds open to trying the CFL: is he likely to come north? | 55 Yard Line - Yahoo Sports Canada

ca.sports.yahoo.com - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Andrew Bucholtz

Permalink

HERE'S WHAT THE INSIDERS ARE SAYING ...

The Edmonton Sun - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:KIRK PENTON
Page: S18

Three players from Toronto workout invited to CFL Combine - Article - TSN

www.tsn.ca - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:TSN.ca Staff

Permalink

Graduating MSU fullback puts real world on hold after discovering he has dual citizenship ... Abankwah, Mensah earn their way in ... Familiar last names at regional

The Toronto Sun - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:KIRK PENTON
Page: S27

Washington ready for move to Canadian football

The Leader-Post (Regina) - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Ian Hamilton
Page: C4

Aylmer linebacker taking run at playing in CFL, NFL

Ottawa Citizen - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Gord Holder
Page: B6

Forde: Who to watch in Toronto - Article - TSN

www.tsn.ca - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:Duane Forde

Permalink

Montreal Regional: Four moving on to Toronto | CFL.ca | Official Site of the Canadian Football League

cfl.ca - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:CFL.ca Staff

Permalink

Combine: Toronto set to host final 2015 regional | CFL.ca | Official Site of the Canadian Football League

cfl.ca - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:CFL.ca Staff

Permalink

VIDEO: Montreal machine at regional combine - Video - TSN

www.tsn.ca - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:Duane Forde

Permalink

Rams looking to impress in Toronto; Taking part in national combine

The Leader-Post (Regina) - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:Ian Hamilton
Page: D2

One part combine, one part film help make draft day decisions

The Leader-Post (Regina) - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:Murray McCormick
Page: D2

Paopao hopes to end SFU's coaching carousel; Wealth Of Experience: Former B.C. Lions coach and star takes over as offensive co-ordinator for the Clan

The Province - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:Howard Tsumura
Page: A66

Ex-Spitfire Hyatt rejoins junior C team in Wheatley; DiGiacinto signs with Syracuse

Windsor Star - Thu Mar 26 2015 Page: B2

CFL next for Sam?

The Ottawa Sun - Wed Mar 25 2015
Byline:QMI AGENCY
Page: 47

CFL hopeful Stoqua keeps it in the family; Player with football roots will attend combine at Concordia in Montreal

Ottawa Citizen - Wed Mar 25 2015
Byline:Gord Holder
Page: B3

Jordan Yantz of the Manitoba Bisons is looking to be that Canadian quarterback who makes it in the CFL ... McCallum still kicking at 45 ... Grant back with Ticats

The Toronto Sun - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:KIRK PENTON
Page: S35

Winnipeg

News - 5 Results

Previewing potential picks in draft

Winnipeg Free Press - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Paul Wiecek
Page: C5

Willy, Blue not running same pattern

Winnipeg Free Press - Wed Mar 25 2015
Byline:Ed Tait
Page: D4

Taking inventory

Winnipeg Free Press - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Paul Wiecek
Page: C5

Blue Bombers visit Selkirk schools

Selkirk Journal - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:BY ADAM PELESHATY ADAM.PELESHATY@SUNMEDIA.CA
Page: 15

Blue prez visits Stonewall

The Stonewall Argus - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:BY ADAM PELESHATY ADAM.PELESHATY@SUNMEDIA.CA
Page: 2

BC

News - 6 Results

Coach's connections land him NFLer; Reunited: Receiver Lavelle Hawkins signs with B.C. Lions to play for Jeff Tedford

The Province - Wed Mar 25 2015
Byline:Lowell Ullrich
Page: A58

Former NFLer Hawkins signs on

Vancouver Sun - Wed Mar 25 2015 Page: C15

Lions sign former NFLer Hawkins

24 Hours Vancouver - Wed Mar 25 2015 Page: 20

Around the Seawall: Canucks sign Tanev to 5-year deal; BC Lions ink ex-NFL receiver Hawkins

BC Local News - Tue Mar 24 2015
Byline:Kolby Solinsky
Page: 1

Lions sign former NFL WR Hawkins - Article - TSN

www.tsn.ca - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:TSN.ca Staff

Permalink

Community comes together to welcome BC Lions and performers

Coast Mountain News - Thu Mar 26 2015 Page: 1

CFL

Full Articles

CFL Rules Committee pitches major changes - Article - TSN

www.tsn.ca - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:TSN.ca Staff

The CFL Rules Committee proposed some major rule changes for the upcoming season on Thursday; changes that could lead to more exciting plays and higher scoring games should they be approved later this spring by the Board of Governors. The biggest change concerns punting plays, and would be good news for returners around the league. The new rule is meant to create space for punt returners. The Rules Committee recommended prohibiting the five interior lineman from a punting team from advancing past the line of scrimmage and pursuing the returner until the ball is caught, at which point they can join their teammates downfield. The rule should give returners more time and space to get up to full speed before hitting the full onslaught of defenders. Punt returns have been in the spotlight all off-season after Brandon Banks’ would-be Grey Cup winning return for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was nullified on an illegal block in the back penalty. On that play, the flag was thrown shortly after Banks caught the ball. Under the new rule, there would be fewer defenders to block initially, which should result in a decrease of similar penalties. Banks appeared to allude to the rule change on earlier Thursday, and tweeted his approval.

Also proposed on punting plays is five-yard no yards penalties being tacked on to the end of a return. Another change that could lead to more big plays, or turnovers, is an adjustment to pass interference rulings. No contact whatsoever is allowed between receivers and defensive backs after five yards, meaning hand fighting downfield while the ball is in the air will result in a penalty. Reports of that change sparked a lively debate on Twitter between quarterbacks Henry Burris and Zach Collaros, and some of the league's defenders. The QBs were predictably pleased their receivers could run routes unabated while the defenders were quick to point out receivers can be just as guilty making contact downfield with pushoffs before the catch. Meanwhile, a third rule change will put more pressure on kickers league-wide. Teams will now line up at the 32-yard line after scoring a touchdown for a PAT. According to the CFL, last year PATs were successful 99.4 per cent of the time while field goal attempts from between 31 and 33 yards were successful 81 per cent of the time. On the flip side, teams opting for a two point convert following a touchdown will have the ball placed on the three-yard line, instead of the five-yard line, where it was placed last season. The Governors will also be able to choose to test a convert worth three points in the pre-season. In this scenario, if a team elects to try a three-point convert, the ball would be placed on the 10-yard line. These changes are all coming a season after the CFL made defensive pass interference calls reviewable by coaches, an implementation that was largely seen as a success, so much so that the NFL is reportedly considering a similar change. The Rules Committee proposed to extend that to offensive pass interference this season as well. Other rules proposals include offensive teams being able to signal to the referee that it doesn't want to substitute any players in favour of an uptempo offence, which would allow officials to blow in play immediately once the ball is placed, and the elimination of teams being able to force re-kicks on kickoffs that go out of bounds. In this scenario, the receiving team would choose to take the ball either where it went out of bounds or at a point 30 yards in advance of where it was kicked.

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CFL Rules Committee proposes changes for 2015 - Sportsnet.ca

www.sportsnet.ca - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:The Canadian Press

TORONTO — The Canadian Football League’s Rules Committee is proposing a handful of rule changes for 2015.

The convert would be less automatic, receivers would have more space, and the game would speed up, if the changes are approved by the Board of Governors this spring.

"We have sought to be innovative while protecting the integrity of the game with a focus on player safety," said Glen Johnson, the CFL’s vice-president of officiating and its representative on the Rules Committee.

"We believe we are recommending to our Board of Governors responsible ways to improve the tempo and flow of the game, reduce the number of stoppages including penalties, increase opportunities for scoring and excitement, and simplify our rules."

The Rules Committee is recommending modifying the convert that follows a touchdown. A kick for a single point, which now comes from the 12-yard line, would instead come from the 32-yard line. Under the proposal, a kicked convert that is wide would remain live and can be run back for a two-point score.

If a team opts to run or pass the ball into the end zone for a two-point convert following a touchdown, the ball would be scrimmaged from the three-yard line, instead of the current five-yard line, which may entice more coaches to go for two points.

The Governors also have the option of choosing to test a more radical approach during pre-season games — a convert worth three points when a team chooses to run or pass the ball over the goal line from the 10-yard line.

To open up the passing game, the Rules Committee is suggesting a change designed to create more room for the offence. It would allow a defensive player to contact a receiver that is in front of him within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but would not allow either player to create or initiate contact that impedes or redirects an opponent beyond five yards.

To increase the tempo of the game, the Rules Committee suggests that at any time in the game the offence be allowed to signal to the referee that it doesn’t want to substitute and it wants to use a tempo offence. The officials would then blow the play in immediately upon the ball and yardsticks being set for play.

On punts, the Rules Committee recommends prohibiting the five interior linemen on the kicking team from leaving the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.

Also to improve game flow, the Rules Committee wants to remove the ability of a coach to request a measurement, leaving it to the referee to measure when he is unsure if a first down has been made or not.

"Our governors are charged with the special responsibility of ensuring our product is fast and exciting for our fans and we treat our great game and players with the utmost respect," Johnson said.

"The changes we’re putting forward for their consideration represent our best advice in meeting these objectives."

Back to Top

Let's open it up! ; Rules committee agrees on big changes to increase scoring, decrease penalties

The Toronto Sun - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:KIRK PENTON
Page: S26

The CFL's 12-member rules committee emerged from two long days of meetings at 9:30 p.m., Thursday night in a downtown Toronto hotel, having just decided to make major changes to the rule book.

They are hoping the new rules, which still have to be passed by the league's board of governors, will result in more scoring and a faster flowing game after a 2014 campaign in which points totals dropped and flags flew frequently.

Convert kicks will be moved back 20 yards to 32-yard attempts, two-point convert attempts will move up two yards, offensive and defensive players won't be able to make contact with one another five yards past the line of scrimmage, and the five interior members of the punt team won't be allowed to move down field until the ball is kicked.

"These are pretty significant," CFL vice-president of officiating Glen Johnson said. "When you're fixing something that was sort of creeping and creeping and creeping for a long time, there's a lot of debt that gets built up over time. These are very significant.

"We're going to see a lot more wide-open play. We're going to see a lot more talented plays happen this year. We're going to see the stoppages go down, the tempo go up."

Other changes include the addition of offensive pass interference being up for review, the ball being spotted much more quickly if teams ask for it, and five-yard no yards penalties will be added on to the end of the play instead of where the ball was received.

"The governors and presidents of the clubs gave us a mandate to look at the game very critically," Johnson said. "They asked us to look at ways to increase the tempo, the pace of play, remove the negative stoppages in the game that slow it down and just give the clubs an opportunity to increase scoring, make more room out on the field, get rid of some clutching and grabbing that's been in our game for some time."

Previously, defensive players could jam offensive players-- or vice-versa--anywhere on the field. The amount of contact increased over the years to the point where the rules committee had seen enough.

"We've made it much more clear, much more black and white," Johnson said. "Beyond five yards, if there's contact created, we're going to determine which of the players did it and one of those players is going to draw a penalty if that contact is material to the other guy and creates an advantage."

There is fear that the new illegal contact penalty will change the way defence is played, that man-to-man coverage and physicality will be removed from the game. Johnson believes that will still be a part of the game, even if it decreases. And he doesn't think fans will mind, either.

"We still want it to be football," he said. "What we simply wanted to do was create more space to get rid of the clutching and grabbing and allow the athletes' talents to shine through more."

The one-point convert will now be a 32-yard kick instead of a 12-yarder. Last season, 99.4% of the converts were successfully kicked, while only 81% of field goal attempts were good from between 31 and 32 yards. It didn't go back any farther because the rules committee didn't want a brisk wind making a convert attempt impossible.

That being said, there's now the two-point convert attempt from the three-yard line, which, Johnson said, means "there's much more strategy now involved."

The league will also try a three-point convert from the 10-yard line in the pre-season, but it won't be implemented for the regular season.

The committee is made up of representatives from each team, the CFL, the CFLPA and the officials association.

Back to Top

CFL looks to make converts more challenging

The Leader-Post (Regina) - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Murray Mccormick
Page: C1 / Front

Converts will not be as automatic as they have been if a proposed change by the CFL's rules committee is approved by the league's board of governors.

The committee proposed after Thursday's meeting in Toronto that placement kicks for a single point after touchdowns be moved to the 32-yard line from the 12.

Increasing the distance of converts would boost the difficulty of the kick, at least based on statistics from the 2014 season. Last year, 99.4 per cent of kicked converts were successful. In comparison, 81.3 per cent of field-goal attempts between 31 and 33 yards were successful.

Under the proposal, a kicked convert that is wide would remain live and could be returned for a two-point score.

The committee also proposed a rule that could entice coaches to attempt more two-point converts. If a team opts to run or pass for a twopoint convert following a touchdown, the ball would be scrimmaged at the threeyard line instead of the five. Last year, only seven of 23 two-point converts were successful.

The rules committee also proposed making a convert worth three points when a team elects to run or pass from the 10-yard line. The committee recommended that the rule change be tested during the pre-season games.

The rules committee includes some CFL coaches and general managers along

with representatives from the CFL Players' Association and the league's on-field officials. The committee's recommendations are to be forwarded to the CFL's board of governors for final approval during meetings in late April or early May.

"Our gover nors are charged with the special responsibility of ensuring our product is fast and exciting for our fans and we treat our great game and players with the utmost respect," Glen Johnson, the CFL's vicepresident of officiating, said in a media release. "The changes we're putting forward for their consideration represent our best advice in meeting these objectives."

In other changes recommended by the rules committee:

Offensive pass interference should be subject to video review after a coach's challenge. In 2014, the CFL allowed coaches to challenge defensive pass interference.

Any contact between defensive backs and receivers should be limited to within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Any contact beyond five yards should be subject to a penalty. The rules committee feels that change should create more room for offences.

When the ball bounces on the ground and a five-yard no-yards penalty is assessed, the penalty should be automatically added to the punt return or where the ball was touched by the return team, whichever field position is better. Currently, the receiving teams have had to choose between the fiveyard penalty or the yards gained on the return. The rules committee hopes that by increasing the penalty, it may reduce the number of no-yards infractions.

Also on punts, the five offensive linemen can't leave the line of scrimmage until the ball has been kicked. The committee feels the change should reduce the number of illegal blocking and noyards penalties while allowing the return team more space to set up. A 10-yard penalty should be assessed for the infraction.

At any time the offence should be allowed to signal to the head official that it doesn't want to substitute and instead plans to use an uptempo offence. Officials would then signal the immediate start to the play and the yardsticks being set. The change is expected to help the offence dictate the pace of the game.

All measurements should be left up to the head official if he's uncertain whether a first down has been made. In the past, head coaches have been able to request a measurement.

The receiving team should no longer have the option of demanding that the kicking team kick again after a kickoff goes out of bounds. The receiving team can scrimmage the ball from where it went out of bounds or at a point 30 yards in advance of where the ball was kicked off, whichever is better.

mmccormick@leaderpost.com Twitter: @murraylp

Back to Top

Some pain then gain

The Toronto Sun - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:KIRK PENTON
Page: S26

The CFL is hoping the rule changes that will be implemented this season will make the game more exciting for fans.

Expect there to be some growing pains, however.

That will be especially prevalent under the new illegal contact rules, which will disallow defensive and offensive players from crashing into one another more than five yards past the line of scrimmage. It will likely result in a barrage of penalties in the early going, which is the last thing the CFL needs after a flag-filled 2014.

"With any change there's understanding, training, implementation," CFL vice-president of officiating Glen Johnson. "Penalties could go up a little bit in the early days of this new illegal-contact situation. But in the long run it's for the good of the game. It's a bit of pain, but in the long run the game will be much better."

The CFL hopes to speed up the game by giving headsets to its officials. As a result, and the referee will be able to speak directly to the review booth.

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CFL's defensive-pass interference rule wrongly characterized at NFL meeting ... Nine-point touchdowns? Yeah, right ... The Julian Edelman rule now in effect

The Toronto Sun - Wed Mar 25 2015
Byline:JOHN KRYK
Page: S13

PHOENIX--St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher on Monday mischaracterized the both status of CFL's defensive pass-interference video reviews and the number of successful overturns.

Fisher, the de facto cochairman of the NFL's competition committee, told a news conference at the NFL's annual meeting that only 49-of-55 reviews last season in the CFL were initiated by coaches, that only six were overturned (11%) and that it was just a one-year experiment.

Not so.

In a phone interview Tuesday morning the CFL's vice-president of officiating, Glen Johnson, said 17-of-55 reviews were overturned (31%).That's what Sun Media colleague Kirk Penton reported months ago.

It broke down like this, Johnson said.

All 55 were coaches' challenges. Forty-nine were to appeal for a flag when one was not thrown, and 15 of those non-calls were overturned into DPI calls. The other six challenges disputed the called DPI, and after review two of those flags were picked up.

Johnson furthermore said the CFL's new rule last year expanding replay to include DPI calls and non-calls "wasn't experimental in nature. We passed it as a firm rule.

"What I think Jeff meant-- not to put words in his mouth --but it was just the first time that we did this ... But our rules committee did not pass it as a one-year trial. They'd have to vote it out now."

Johnson said the CFL rules committee meets Thursday to nail down this year's rules and there is no proposal to repeal the DPI replay rule--it's staying.

It's even possible the rule might even be expanded in 2015 to include offensive pass-interference calls and non-calls as well, Johnson said.

"It's a possibility, yes."

Johnson said coaches and teams were happy with the first-year result.

"We declared it a modest success. When you're inventing something new there are always bumps in the road along the way. One of the things we struggled a bit with was getting to a consistent standard.

"You did one, so you had a standard. You did two, so now you've got two standards. Ultimately it took some time to get to a spot where it was becoming more predictable for coaches what our decision would be. It took some time to get there, but we're in a good spot."

CFL reviews are decided at the league's centralized video-replay centre in Toronto, much like the NHL's.

In the NFL, reviews ultimately are decided by the on-field referee, with help from the league's centralized video operation in New York City. So in that regard, it's not an apples-to-apples comparison.

"We working pretty closely with those guys (in the NFL)," Johnson said. "We've been sharing our data. I've spent a fair bit of time with (NFL VP of officiating) Dean Blandino, talking about this and just being completely cooperative and transparent with our data."

PROPOSALS SHOT DOWN

So much for those nine-point touchdowns.

Not that anyone thought it had a chance in hell of being adopted, but the NFL announced that most of this year's rule-change proposals were withdrawn or shot down.

The five approved were safety-related, as the league continues to bend over backward to try to make the game less dangerous.

Probably the most significant of the amendments empowers a spotter in the press box to stop a game if he sees "obvious signs" in a player "of disorientation, or is clearly unstable."

Call it the Julian Edelman rule. He's the New England Patriots receiver whose bell got wickedly rung by a Seattle Seahawks tackler, and who remained in the game despite appearing at least a little bit woozy.

All but one of 13 rules proposals aiming to expand the purview of video replay failed to be approved. The one that was is minor: Referees can now review the game clock on the final play of a half or overtime. Meaning, if someone stops the clock too soon, or lets it run too long, replay officials can now correct it.

LURIE ON CHIP

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie talked to a huge circle of reporters for around half an hour on Tuesday, trying in vain to convince everyone that his head coach, Chip Kelly, wasn't the one who pushed GM Howie Roseman effectively out of his job. In January, Lurie gave Kelly final say on his football roster. And as everyone knows, Kelly hasn't been exactly hesitant about blowing up the roster that Roseman built. "That may have been the interpretation," Lurie said. "But I don't think any of us really see it that way."

- - -

john.kryk@sunmedia.ca

twitter @johnkryk

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CFL reportedly discussing changing PI rules, play clock, returns and converts | 55 Yard Line - Yahoo Sports Canada

ca.sports.yahoo.com - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Andrew Bucholtz

It looks like the CFL is considering some substantial changes to its rules for this upcoming season, and many of them appear to revolve around reducing penalties and increasing scoring. That's likely a reaction to the dramatic decline in scoring we saw last year, with teams scoring 62.3 points less than 2013 on average over the course of the season. The question is if it's a justified and needed reaction, or an overreaction to a temporary problem. To figure that out, let's examine the proposed changes in detail; nothing official has come out yet, but Kirk Penton, Lowell Ullrich and Drew Edwards have all reported on what the rules committee seems to be discussing, and there are four main rules being talked about in all of those articles.

Pass interference changes: The league is reportedly looking at specifically legislating limited contact on receivers beyond five yards of the line of scrimmage, similar to how the NFL approaches PI these days. This would dramatically alter how CFL defenders play, and it might make smaller and quicker defensive backs and receivers more valuable. This would make defenders' lives tougher, but it should make it easier to complete a pass, which would benefit offences. If this change goes through, though, it's not going to reduce flags. If anything, we're likely to see a spike in pass interference flags until defenders adjust to the new normal.

Play clock changes: Edwards explains this one well:

Another potential change designed to help the offence would be an alteration on how the play clock is run. At the moment, the clock starts when the ball is placed and the official has blown in the play, usually after both the offence and defence have had the opportunity to make substitutions. The new rule would have the play clock start as soon as the ball is spotted.

So even though the play clock would likely be longer – changed from 20 seconds to 30 or 35 – the offence would have the opportunity to snap the ball almost immediately after it's spotted, without giving the defence a chance to rest or change personnel. Even in regular offensive situations with no hurry up there could potentially be less time between plays, speeding up the game. There's some merit to that, and making it easier for high-tempo offences could be great for the CFL. The hurry-up, no-huddle offence has become very successful in the NCAA ranks, and many of its concepts would appear to be a great fit for the Canadian game, but an important part of what makes it work is preventing defences from being able to easily substitute or take their time calling plays. A play clock starting as soon as the ball is spotted doesn't force offensive teams to go more quickly (especially if the clock's longer), but it gives them the opportunity to.

However, one peril here is how this could affect game finishes. Late comebacks have been a key selling point for the CFL (see the #NoLeadIsSafe campaign), and they would appear less likely under this proposed plan. A big part of what allows more last-second comebacks in the CFL is the delayed start to the clock; you can do more on a two-minute drive in the CFL without timeouts or working the sidelines than you can in the NFL because time doesn't start as quickly after a play. Starting the clock when the ball's spotted would appear likely to alter that.

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Michael Sam sounds open to trying the CFL: is he likely to come north? | 55 Yard Line - Yahoo Sports Canada

ca.sports.yahoo.com - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Andrew Bucholtz

Free agent defensive end Michael Sam, who last year became the first openly gay player ever chosen in the NFL draft, has already had an impact on the CFL. Now, the chances of him actually playing north of the border appear to be on the rise. Sam took part in Sunday's inaugural NFL veteran combine, but his performance there didn't earn him many plaudits, with his initially-reported 5.07 and 5.10 40-yard-dash times in particular coming in for criticism. There's important context to those numbers, which we'll discuss below, but what may be even more important are the comments from NFL figures about him. One NFL personnel director at the combine told Fox Sports' Alex Marvez that Sam's performance was "marginal," and TMZ reported Tuesday that one agent called him "flat out horrible," adding other criticisms from scouts and general managers. Like 40 times, anonymous executive comments need to be taken in context and with a significant grain of salt, but Sam's NFL chances do seem to diminishing, and he told Yahoo's Eric Adelson Sunday that he wouldn't rule out coming to the CFL, saying "If there's an opportunity, I'll take it." Just how likely are we to see Sam show up north of the border?

First, it's notable that the CFL interest in Sam is substantial. He's not only been on the Montreal Alouettes' negotiation list since last year, but general manager Jim Popp has specifically reached out to him. That's significant, as negotiation lists reflect varying degrees of interest in players. Montreal also recently had Tim Tebow on their list and may well still have him there, but Popp wasn't big on Tebow in two separate 2013 interviews, saying "If (Tebow) wants to come to Canada he will reach out to us" and "I don't know if Tim Tebow would ever work in this league." Again, a grain of salt's required (if the Alouettes did intend to ever negotiate with Tebow, public criticism of him reduces his leverage), but compare that to how Popp reportedly reached out to Sam (something he never did with Tebow) last September. That suggests the Alouettes are serious about potentially adding him if he wants to come north.

There are a lot of reasons to think Sam could be a very capable CFL (or NFL) player, so this interest isn't unfounded. Cyd Ziegler had an excellent Outsports piece in February on how Sam's level of college and NFL production is far ahead of many of the players still on NFL rosters, part of what would make him very worthy of another chance either in the NFL or the CFL. It's certainly possible that Sam could still be a good NFL player if he gets a shot there, but he might be an even better CFL player. As noted here before, Sam's size (he was listed at 6'2'', 261 pounds last year) puts him somewhat awkwardly between a LB and a DE in the NFL, but is perfectly in line with many top CFL DEs. He has significant speed and agility, and good instincts for tracking the passer down.

Similarities can be drawn between Sam and Cam Wake, another pass-rushing college star of similar size (Wake's listed as 6'3'', 262). Wake didn't get much NFL attention in his first go-round thanks partly to teams' desire to see him as a LB. He came to B.C., where he got a chance at defensive end, and became one of the most dominant defensive players in CFL history. Wake then returned to the NFL and became a consistent Pro Bowler. We don't know if Sam will ever reach that level, but his talent and his college production certainly suggest it's worth it for a CFL team to take a chance on him.

That all depends on the NFL letting Sam go, though, and that's not a foregone conclusion. This is where the caveats in the 40 times and anonymous quotes are important. First, the 40 times. The veteran combine used electronic timing handpads for the released times rather than the manual times used at the college combine, which as Yahoo's Charles Robinson noted in a series of tweets Sunday, typically add .1 to .2 seconds to the time. The track used was also reportedly slow. Thus, Sam may well have run a sub-5-second 40 closer to the 4.91 he posted at last year's rookie combine. (But hey, way to make fun of the veteran combine for slow times without looking into it, Deadspin.)

The anonymous quotes also may matter (and the ones given to Marvez more so than the ones given to TMZ; Ziegler notes that agents weren't even at the veteran combine, making TMZ's agent quotes suspicious), but their potential biases have to be considered as well. Maybe team execs are trying to lower Sam's stock so their team can land him, or maybe agents are trying to downplay Sam to hype up their own clients. Even if those quotes are completely honest, they don't necessarily mean Sam's on his way out of the NFL; all he needs is one team to believe in him, and then the rest of the league' comments are irrelevant.

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HERE'S WHAT THE INSIDERS ARE SAYING ...

The Edmonton Sun - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:KIRK PENTON
Page: S18

CFL coaches and managers give their anonymous thoughts on what they're talking about behind closed doors:

Who's had the best off-season? Ottawa. They got better for sure. We were talking about the other division last week, and some of us think they might be good enough to sneak in the playoffs over in the East ... How long are you willing to sign and how likely are you to want to stay where you are drafted? Those are questions that have to be asked of guys at the combine. It can become prevalent now because this will be the first year that we're completely working under the new CBA. Who's the first high, high pick to say, 'Thanks, but I'm just taking a two-year deal' for any number of reasons? Because they went to a regional combine or because they're an East Coast guy going west or a West Coast guy going east. Who's the first to bring that up? ... What's surprised me the most about the off-season so far was Montreal getting old on purpose. They signed ( Nik) Lewis, (traded for Fred) Stamps, ( Chris) Thompson, ( Stefan) Logan and some other old players I'm probably forgetting. Maybe they wanted more veterans because they have young quarterbacks. I don't know. ( Jim) Popp has a lot of Grey Cup rings, so I'll just worry about coaching my team and let him figure out Montreal ... So many kids went to the NFL regional workouts. How does it affect their performance this weekend? Because they're not built that way, to be doing multiple combines in a short period of time ... Getting a new commissioner doesn't affect us much on the football side ... One player we're looking forward to seeing this weekend is (Calgary offensive lineman) Sukh Chungh ... We don't have enough draft picks. I hope we can trade back and get a couple more ... If you had a good free-agent period this year, you were likely not that good last year. In saying that, Ottawa and Winnipeg did fine this year. Toronto did not have a good free-agency period ... This draft is deep. A lot of future starters will be drafted after the first two rounds. This year, third-and fourth-round draft picks are as valuable as second-rounders are most years ... One player people are talking about going into the regional combine is ( Henoc and Cauchy) Muamba's brother ( Kelvin, a receiver). He is working out at the Toronto one and has supposedly put up good testing numbers. He's been injury prone, though ... I've coached a long time and this is the best group of offensive lineman I've seen in the draft. Wouldn't be surprised to see five or six offensive lineman go in the first round ... (Receiver) Nic Demski has a lot to prove at the combine ... The first thing the new commissioner has to do is fix Toronto ... Everybody needs offensive linemen. Everybody. Last year, two or three teams were playing with three American offensive lineman. That's not what they wanted to do; it's what they had to do ... I think that number six ( Jake Harty) at Calgary is going to be a good player. He won't be a first-rounder. Might not even be a second-rounder. But in a few years he might be as good as any of the receivers in this draft ... Looking at our draft breakdown, I realized that Calgary and Hamilton -- the two Grey Cup teams -- have the most picks in the upcoming draft. How does that happen? The rich will get richer. But as much as it (bugs) me I have to give them credit. They weren't given those extra picks -- they traded for them. Good organizations find a way to win.

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Three players from Toronto workout invited to CFL Combine - Article - TSN

www.tsn.ca - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:TSN.ca Staff

Three players from Thursday's final regional combine in Toronto have been invited to the CFL National Combine this weekend. Running back Melvin Abankwah, linebacker Louis Mensah and running back Matt Rea were extended invitations to compete in front of CFL scouts, coaches, and management in Toronto.   Saint Mary's Huskies running back, Melvin Abankwah ran the fastest 40-yard time among running backs with a time of 4.69 seconds. Among the running backs group, the Etobicoke, Ont. native also posted the highest vertical (34"), longest broad jump (9'11.75"), tied for the fastest three-cone drill (7.12 seconds) and tied for first in shuttle time (4.22 seconds).   Linebacker Louis Mensah from Fort Lewis College ran the fastest shuttle time among his position group with a time of 4.41 seconds. The Toronto, Ont. native continued to showcase his speed by finishing tied for second in the linebacker group in the 40-yard dash by recording a time of 4.84 seconds. Mensah will join seven other linebackers at the National CFL Combine.   Michigan State running back, Matt Rea showed off his strength by recording 29 reps in the bench press, tied for the most in all three 2015 Regional Combines. Rea followed his strong showing in the bench press by tying the best shuttle time on the day with a time of 4.22 seconds. Rea will join Abwankwah and six other running backs at the National CFL Combine.

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Graduating MSU fullback puts real world on hold after discovering he has dual citizenship ... Abankwah, Mensah earn their way in ... Familiar last names at regional

The Toronto Sun - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:KIRK PENTON
Page: S27

Matt Rea finished up his football career at Michigan State last fall and started thinking about getting a job in the real world.

Never once did the fullback figure he'd have a shot at being a pro.

Then, through his Spartans teammate James Bodanis and his future agent Fred Weinrauch, he realized he was actually a Canadian under the new collective bargaining agreement. All you have to do is be born in Canada, and Rea came into the world in London, Ont., on Nov. 25, 1991. He spent only the first eight months of his life in the Great White North before the family moved to Rochester, Mich., in 1992.

"My mom stayed in Ontario while my dad was setting everything up in Michigan," Rea said. "So here I am with dual citizenship."

And that's why he ended up at the CFL regional combine at the University of Toronto's Varsity Centre on Thursday, so the scouts could get a better look at someone they probably didn't know existed six months ago. Rea impressed them enough to earn a ticket to this weekend's main CFL combine, which will also be held in Toronto.

"It's been a crazy ride," said Rea, who had the most repetitions in the bench press with 29.

The 23-year-old took part in Michigan State's pro day last week to get a feel for what Thursday was going to be like, but nothing could prepare him for CFL intricacies such as the waggle.

"It's a little different," Rea said. "Even during drills, we're in forward motion. I didn't go first. I was waiting to see how they did it.

"It's an adjustment, but I think it's something I'll get used to. Football's football."

UNDERDOGS SHINE

Rea was one of three players from Thursday's regional who will move on to the main combine.

Speedy Saint Mary's running back Melvin Abankwah was the star of the day, torching defensive backs to make catches during the one-on-one portion of the event.

Not bad for a running back.

"That is a plus, but if I can show the coaches and scouts that I can block and do all the other things the other guys can do, then I should be good," he said.

The Etobicoke, Ont., product believes he wasn't invited to the main combine because he had a tough season last fall, suffering through a shoulder injury and having his production drop. He more than made up for that on Thursday.

"My name wasn't even out there. Not even close," Abankwah said. "I want to go up against those guys and show them that the no-name guys can take them on."

The other regional hopeful who had his name called at the end of the day was linebacker Louis Mensah, a Toronto native who played at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo.

"I felt like I came in as the underdog and no one really knew me," said Mensah, who had a large cheering section of family and former coaches on Thursday. "So I knew their eyes were on certain players, and I was like: 'Well, if I show these guys up, they'll say: 'Hey, who's that guy?' And I showed up today."

OH, BROTHER

Kelvin Muamba is trying to follow in his brothers' footsteps, but he'll have to rely on his body of work at Wilfrid Laurier and Thursday's regional combine if he's going to get a chance in the CFL.

Muamba didn't get an invitation to participate in this weekend's main combine, but he feels he has the ability to follow his older brothers, Henoc and Cauchy, to the pro level.

"I feel I'm really ready," Muamba said. "My brothers have done a good enough job to make sure I'm ready on the field and off the field."

Henoc, a linebacker was the first overall pick of the Bombers in 2011 and now plays for the NFL's Indianapolis Colts. The B.C. Lions drafted Cauchy, a defensive back who now plays for the Eskimos after spending the 2013 season in Winnipeg.

Muamba, the youngest of three Muamba brothers, decided to play on the other side of the ball because he wanted to be different. Then again, he's not afraid to admit that his last name could help him at least get a look.

"Definitely. I believe that helps, too," he said. "It'll make them think twice before looking somewhere else, so that's a good thing, too."

LATE HITS

There were a few other familiar names at Thursday's regional combine. Wide receiver Andrin Masotti, the son of Argos legend Paul Masotti, had the fastest 40-yard dash time, while a pair of younger brothers of current CFLers, defensive lineman Christian D'Aguilar (Ben) and linebacker Hussein Hazime-Raad (Hasan), were also among the hopefuls ...The main combine participants will arrive in Toronto on Friday and have their heights and weights measured upon registration. The testing will begin bright and early on Saturday ...The one-on-ones, which the scouts put plenty of stock in, will be held on Sunday morning at the Varsity Centre.

- - -

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca Twitter: @PentonKirk

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Washington ready for move to Canadian football

The Leader-Post (Regina) - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Ian Hamilton
Page: C4

Ajai Washington may come highly recommended to the University of Regina Rams, but the Queen City also comes highly recommended to him.

Former Saskatchewan Roughriders Warren Jones and Don Narcisse know Pat Washington - Ajai's dad - and their endorsement of Regina helped convince the Washingtons that Ajai would enjoy it here.

With that seal of approval in mind, the 18-year-old product of Dallas committed to the Rams starting in the 2015 Canada West football season.

"It's a great move for him," Narcisse said Thursday. "He'll be able to adjust to it.

"It's a good thing that I'm here because I can talk to him or have dinner with him if he needs it."

Washington knows he'll face an adjustment period to university and to living in a different country.

He believes the biggest issue he'll face in Canada will be the cold, but that won't pose as much of a problem for him as something he faces back home.

"I'll be happy (in Regina) because there's a whole bunch of tornadoes down here," a chuckling Washington said from Dallas. "I can adjust to (the cold). I can't adjust when the house is being thrown all over the place."

Not only did Jones (who was Pat Washington's best man at his wedding) and Narcisse give Regina a thumbs-up, but they also suggested that Ajai would be a fit for the Canadian game.

"We've talked extensively about football up there," Pat said.

"I showed film to them and they both said they thought my son could be a good football player up there because of the way you guys play and the way things are spread out.

"With his speed and going sideline to sideline, they thought he could do well."

The Rams felt the same way, which explains their excitement over landing Washington.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound defensive end was named a first-team all-district performer last year at Woodrow Wilson High School.

Rams head coach Mike Gibson already has pencilled in Washington as a weakside end - and the longtime CFL assistant coach believes his new recruit has a chance to play in that league after completing his university career.

"This kid goes sideline to sideline," Gibson said.

"With the width of this field, that's the kind of player you need - a guy who's just not a 'box' player.

"Is he ready (for the CFL) yet?

No. I'm not saying that. He's undersized, but he's your prototypical CFL guy because of his range and the way he can run."

Washington's game is based on speed - "I think I'll be able to cover ground pretty fast," he said - and that will help him adjust to the Canadian game and its larger field.

While he faces a learning curve because of the move, the idea of coming north instead of staying in the American college ranks appealed to the Washingtons.

Pat said he and Ajai "have always been forward thinkers," so they looked to Canada when searching for a place for the teenager to play.

For Ajai, the move also represents a chance to get what he called "a different experience."

"It's a new place," said Ajai, who noted he heard from NCAA schools like New Mexico State, New Mexico and Oklahoma State before choosing the U of R. "I've been to Canada before (when he visited Edmonton) and it's a fresh experience."

Gibson likes Washington's speed, his quickness and his nonstop motor, but also his focus on academics. The fact his dad is a renowned basketball coach in the Dallas area also is a positive.

For Gibson, it all adds up.

"I don't want to put pressure on the young man in any way, but he's a special kid," the Rams' first-year head coach said. "He's a kid I'm excited about having in my first recruiting class."

ihamilton@leaderpost.com Twitter: @IanHamiltonLP

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Aylmer linebacker taking run at playing in CFL, NFL

Ottawa Citizen - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Gord Holder
Page: B6

It's possible Ron Omara will play in the first Canadian Football League game he attends in person.

Or maybe, just maybe, he'll end up on a National Football League roster.

The 24-year-old St. Francis Xavier University linebacker from Aylmer and a string of minor and junior football programs in the Ottawa region, Omara will be in Toronto this weekend for the CFL's national "combine," or evaluation camp. All nine teams will interview and monitor physical testing and on-field drills of more than 50 prospects for the May 12 college draft. "When you have a passion for doing something, and it's football for me, you want to look sharp and take that road as far as you can," Omara said during a visit home to Ottawa. "It's going to come down to how bad I want it and how good I can be."

Omara was Atlantic University Sport defensive player of the year and second-team all-Canadian for St. FX in 2013, but received neither of those honours last season. As far as pro football was concerned, he was probably a bit "under the radar" after being omitted from the CFL Scouting Bureau's top-20 rankings in September and December.

His cover may have been blown since then, however. After paying $150 US to attend one of the NFL's regional combines for hopefuls who weren't invited to the main show at Indianapolis in February, Omara did well enough to warrant an invitation to last weekend's "super regional" in Arizona. Laval Rouge et Or offensive lineman Danny Groulx of Gatineau also went to Tempe, but the odds of actually making it to the NFL remain stacked against them. Only two players who went that route were selected in the 2014 NFL draft, although some signed as free agents, including Université de Montréal's

David Foucault and University of Regina's Stefan Charles.

"It went well, and that's all I can say," Omara said.

Groulx, No. 8 in the December rankings, will also be in Toronto this weekend, as will No. 20 Ottawa Gee-Gees defensive lineman Ettore Lattanzio and Hull's William Langlais, a Sherbrooke Vert et Or running back who was invited following Wednesday's regional combine in Montreal.

Besides training for pro football evaluation, Omara is a St. FX student, so there's course work to complete so he can graduate this spring with a sociology and psychology degree.

"It's a pretty rigorous process, to be honest," he said. "But this opportunity doesn't come too often, so you just make the temporary sacrifices that you need to make."

Since first playing football at age 14, Omara has been a North Gloucester Giant, Cumberland Panther, D'Arcy McGee Gee-Gee, Ottawa Colt and Ottawa Sooner, with seasons running back-to-back at least once.

Andy McEvoy, head coach and defensive co-ordinator when Omara played for the Sooners a half-decade ago, said Omara had the size, speed and playmaking ability required for professional football.

"I would have been surprised if he didn't actually get a look," McEvoy said.

Omara says he has never attended a CFL contest, but has watched television broadcasts at home with family since the age of eight. That eventually inspired him to start playing, and the inspiration strengthened as he approached draft eligibility and as the Redblacks returned the CFL to Ottawa in 2014.

Ottawa's Alex Mateas, an offensive lineman who was Omara's Sooner teammate in 2009, was No. 2 in the CFL Scouting Bureau's December rankings, but won't attend the combine in Toronto. Those wanting another look at him will get their chance when the University of Connecticut Huskies conduct their "pro day" at Storrs, Conn., on Tuesday.

gholder@ottawacitizen.com Twitter.com/HolderGord

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Forde: Who to watch in Toronto - Article - TSN

www.tsn.ca - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:Duane Forde

Congratulations to the following four athletes who were promoted from Wednesday's Montreal regional combine to the main event in Toronto this weekend: Jean-Samuel Blanc (DE, Montreal): Good in the morning testing session, he also lived up to his reputation as one of the top pass rushers in Canadian university football during the on-field workout. Anthony Coady (DB, Montreal): The Defensive MVP of the 2014 Vanier Cup didn't let a lingering shoulder injury bother him, as he turned in a solid all-around performance. Mikhail Davidson (REC, Montreal): With speed, precise routes, and sure hands, he demonstrated during one-on-ones exactly why he has been one of the most prolific receivers in the country over the last three years. William Langlais (FB, Sherbrooke): No player boosted his stock more on Wednesday than this hard-nosed banger, who had flown under the radar in the Vert et Or's five r-receiver offence. Injuries definitely impacted the selection process on Wednesday, as Laval receiver Matthew Norzil and Saint Mary's linebacker Marvin Golding had both all but punched their tickets to Toronto before going down with hamstring injuries during the afternoon one-on-ones. The injury will make Norzil's path to the draft particularly interesting to follow. In terms of both skill and athleticism, he ranks among the draft's elite receivers but he needed to show that he was back to 100 per cent after missing most of the last two seasons due to injury. He had done that rather convincingly through the testing but the injury left scouts wondering if he's damaged goods. In fact, many of the scouts in attendance still wanted Norzil promoted to the main combine despite yesterday's injury in order to have him to go through that event's extensive medical exam and establish whether his previous knee injury would be a concern going forward. On Thursday, it's all about the Toronto regional combine. In addition to the obvious sense of competition, there will be a bit of a theme of "family" for CFL fans, as the participants are expected to include Wilfrid Laurier receiver Kelvin Muamba (brother of Henoc and Cauchy), York linebacker Hussein Hazime (brother of Hamilton's Hasan), McMaster defensive lineman Christian D'Aguilar (brother of Calgary's Ben), and Marauders receiver Andrin Masotti (son of former Toronto Argonaut Paul), not to mention two brothers who are both participating in John (LB, Guelph) and Jack (DB, Okanagan Sun) Rush. Below is a look at some others I'll be tracking in their quest to be invited to the main combine. Daniel English (REC, 6'3", 223, Langley Rams): As a senior at New Westminster (B.C.) Secondary School five years ago, he was one of Canada's most coveted football recruits. Since then, he has been something of a gridiron nomad, spending a redshirt season (2010) with the New Mexico State Aggies and one season (2012) with University of British Columbia Thunderbirds before settling in for the last two years with the CJFL's Langley Rams. His combination of size, speed, and ability to stretch the field (20.6 yards per catch over the last three seasons) is sure to draw some attention. Daniel Ferraro (K/P, 5'8", 185, Guelph): One of Canada's top kicking prospects coming out of high school in 2011, he saw his share of ups and downs through his first three years as a Gryphon. However, under the tutelage of former CFLer and current Guelph kicking coach Hank Ilesic, he put it all together in his senior year hitting a CIS single season record 26 field goals and posting a career high 87 per cent accuracy rate. Jazz Lindsey (QB, 6'2", 193, Guelph): He has never been among the CIS leaders in terms of passing yards but, in his three years as the Gryphons undisputed starter, he has improved his completion percentage every year, thrown more than twice as many TD passes as interceptions (38 TD, 17 INT), and most importantly has led his team to three consecutive 7-1 finishes. He has actually also thrown at the CFL Combine each of the last two years so he would seem to be a logical candidate to at least take part in Sunday's on-field workouts. Louis Mensah (RB, 6'0", 230, Fort Lewis College): The Toronto native played linebacker at the junior college level for College of the Desert, and was recruited to Division 2 Fort Lewis at that position as well. However, injuries on offence led the Skyhawks coaching staff to move him to the other side of the ball. He had a season high 24 carries for 116 yards in the final game of his college career.

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Montreal Regional: Four moving on to Toronto | CFL.ca | Official Site of the Canadian Football League

cfl.ca - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:CFL.ca Staff

MONTREAL -- After a busy Wednseday of workouts in Montreal, four more regional combine participants are headed to the National Combine in Toronto.

Anthony Coady, Jean-Samuel Blanc, Mikhail Davidson and William Langlais were the four picked to move on, marking four players at four different positions to get the call, including three Montreal Carabins.

Among the top defensive backs was Montreal's Coady, impressing with a solid second-place 7.02 in the three-cone while putting up a solid all-around effort in other tests. Joining Coady in Toronto will be his Montreal teammate and defensive lineman Blanc, whose 20 reps in the bench press, nine-foot-five broad jump and 33-inch vertical each placed him second among defensive linemen.

Blanc also registered the top three-cone (7.42) and second-best shuttle (4.42) among defensive linemen.

Montreal Regional Combine Results Bench 40-Yard Vertical 1. Jesse St. James -- 24 reps T1. Matthew Norzil -- 4.53 1. Matthew Norzil -- 39.00" 2. David Plourde -- 23 reps T1. Randy Roseway -- 4.53 2. Alexandre Aube -- 38.00" 3. Te Nguyen -- 22 reps  3. Alexandre Aube -- 4.58  3. Nyjill Wilson -- 37.00" T4. Austin Roy -- 21 reps 4. Mikhail Davidson -- 4.59 4. Jean-Philippe Chretien -- 36.50" T4. Ashton Dickson -- 21 reps  5. Sebastian Blanchard -- 4.61 5. Vincent Cleroux-Gaudreau -- 36.00" Shuttle 3-Cone Broad 1. Djonatan Buissereth -- 3.90 1. Djonatan Buissereth -- 6.93 1. Matthew Norzil -- 10'10.50" 2. William Langlais -- 4.08 2. Anthony Coady -- 7.02 T2. Randy Roseway -- 10'3.75" 3. Jovan Deschenes-Cober -- 4.09 T3. Matthew Norzil -- 7.06 T2. Djonatan Buissereth -- 10'3.75" 4. Sean Stoqua -- 4.15 T3. Alexandre Aube -- 7.06 T4. Jean-Philippe Chretien -- 10'2.00" T5. Justin Warden, Randy Roseway -- 4.18 5. Mikhail Davidson -- 7.23 T4. Mathieu Quirion -- 10'2.00" Full Results >      Shining at the running back position was Langlais of Sherbrooke, whose 4.08 shuttle led his position and put him in the top five out of all participants.

Finally, receiver Davidson, the third Montreal Carabins player to move on, is moving forward after putting up a stellar 4.59 40 time while also impressing in the shuttle and three-cone.

CFL scouts, coaches and general managers remain busy on Thursday, as the action resumes in Toronto for the third and final regional combine. View 2015 Toronto Regional Combine participants.

Stay up to date on the latest from the 2015 Regional and National combines with CFL.ca.

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Combine: Toronto set to host final 2015 regional | CFL.ca | Official Site of the Canadian Football League

cfl.ca - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:CFL.ca Staff

TORONTO – With the 2015 CFL National Combine just a day away, 45 prospects are set to participate in the last of three regional combines on Thursday in Toronto.

Regional combines were held in Edmonton and Montreal earlier in the week, with the top performers from each receiving an invite to the national combine, to be held in Toronto from March 27 to 29.

The same will occur on Thursday, as players will undergo a series of tests, measurements and one-on-one drills with hopes of showing teams they're worth a closer look.

» For a full list of Toronto Regional Combine participants, click here.

In 2014, four Toronto regional combine participants were added to the National Roster, all making enough of an impact after that to find themselves drafted by CFL teams.

Ottawa REDBLACKS receiver Scott MacDonell led the charge, dominating with 13 reps in the bench press (third among receivers) and the second-best broad jump among receivers, eventually leading him to become a second round pick in the draft. Aaron Milton's situation was similar, as the University of Toronto alum was taken two picks after MacDonnell by the Eskimos, not long after being picked out at the regional combine.

St. Francis Xavier defensive back Raye Hartmann and York defensive end James Tuck were the others that moved on and eventually found themselves drafted, with Hartmann and Tuck going back-to-back in the fourth round to Edmonton and Montreal respectively.

Thursday's regional combine will also include seven national free agents and international free agents who play in the CIS – none of whom will be eligible for the draft and therefore cannot receive an invitation to the National Combine.

As part of our ongoing coverage leading into the 2015 CFL Combine, CFL.ca is your stop for up-to-the-minute stats, news, analysis, videos and more from Toronto.

By the Numbers:

- Of the 45 currently on the Toronto regional combine roster, 39 are draft eligible.

- A fairly balanced field will compete, with nine defensive backs, seven running backs, seven linebackers, seven defensive linemen and eight receivers. Two kickers and a quarterback, all draft eligible, will also participate.

- Six prospects will represent the University of Guelph, the most for any school at the Toronto regional.

Toronto Regional Combine schedule:

9:00am – Registration

9:30am – Height and weight, hand and arm measurements; video shot; vertical jump; broad jump; bench press (225 lbs)

1:00pm -- Warm up at the bubble

1:10pm – 40-yard dash; short shuttle; three-cone drill

2:25pm – Positional drills and one-on-ones:

2:25pm – OL/DL drills 2:40pm – OL/DL one-on-ones 2:50pm – RB/LB drills 3:05pm – RB/LB one-on-ones (pass protection and routes) 3:20pm – Special teams gunner drill (RBs, LBs and DEs) 3:20pm – WR/DB drills 3:45pm – WR/DB one-on-ones 4:05pm – Special teams gunner drill (WRs and DBs) 4:15pm – Long snappers/punters/kickers

4:30pm – Announcement of players invited to the CFL National Combine in Toronto

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VIDEO: Montreal machine at regional combine - Video - TSN

www.tsn.ca - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:Duane Forde

Montreal machine at regional combine As TSN's Duane Forde reports, the Vanier Cup champions were the biggest winners of the Montreal Regional combine, with three players from the Carabins advancing to Toronto.

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Rams looking to impress in Toronto; Taking part in national combine

The Leader-Post (Regina) - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:Ian Hamilton
Page: D2

University of Regina Rams wide receiver Addison Richards is looking to go on the offensive this weekend.

Richards enters the CFL's national combine (Friday through Sunday in Toronto) as the ninth-ranked prospect for the 2015 CFL draft. He's the second-ranked receiver, behind the Manitoba Bisons' Nic Demski (who's No. 5).

For Richards, the combine represents an opportunity to improve his standing.

"There are some really talented receivers whose names have been tossed around for being picked in the first round and I want to make sure that I'm still in those talks," said Richards, who led Canada West with 55 catches and topped all CIS receivers with 916 yards in 2014.

"There's pressure on everybody who's going to be there, regardless if they're tagged as a first-round pick, if they're in the top 10 or if they're not ranked. The whole weekend is a chance for guys to go up or down."

Tevaughn Campbell's plan is to go up.

The Rams' cornerback/kick returner was 18th in the Central Scouting Bureau's September rankings, but he fell out of the top 20 in the winter rankings. He's hoping to use the combine to spring back into the picture.

"It's always a good thing to move up in the rankings," Campbell said. "I don't know if it's a mental thing or what, but it's always a relief when you're at the top of coaches' minds going into the draft."

The Rams' third representative at the combine, cornerback Kahlen Branning, used a strong showing at Monday's regional combine in Edmonton to get an invitation to Toronto.

If he can build on his regional performance this weekend, he too could improve his draft standing. "I just have to do everything the same way I did (in Edmonton)," Branning said. "I'll ride the bike for 10 minutes, ice, stretch, stay rested, stay healthy and do the exact same thing in Toronto that I did (on Monday)."

The participants at the national combine will perform various tests (40-yard dash, vertical jump, 225-pound bench press and so on) before going through positionspecific drills and one-onones.

The three Rams could do well in the testing, having previously shown their athleticism.

Campbell, for instance, was the gold medallist in the 60 metres at the Canada West track and field meet and won two silver medals at the CIS championships.

Like Campbell, Branning also spent the off-season with the U of R track team and finished fourth in the 60m at the Canada West championships. As well, he was among the leading DBs in Monday's testing.

And Richards finished in the top five among receivers in every test at the East West Bowl in May.

That said, the Rams believe Sunday will be the big day.

"It's going to come down to catching the ball, running routes, one-on-ones, that type of thing," Richards said. "I think I'll test well - that's what I've been working on pretty steady for the past few months - but the position-specific stuff is where it's going to show."

Campbell agreed.

While admitting that having sprinter's speed is important ("It's always good to have a secret weapon when you're going to war," he said with a laugh), he knows his defence in Toronto will be the biggest issue.

While Campbell's performance could make or break his future in the CFL, he's not looking at the negative aspect of it.

"I always try to move forward in life, so this is another step to move forward," he said.

"I'm very confident that I'll do well and that hopefully things work out for me and I go to the CFL."

ihamilton@leaderpost.com Twitter: @IanHamiltonLP

Teammates ready to be foes

The University of Regina Rams who are attending this weekend's CFL combine in Toronto could face some stiff competition - from each other.

Receiver Addison Richards and cornerbacks Kahlen Branning and Tevaughn Campbell are going to the national combine, which runs Friday through Sunday. The third day is to feature one-on-ones, when the receivers and DBs will go head-to-head. That means there's a chance the Rams teammates will battle on pass routes. And if one U of R player dominates the others, that could conceivably affect their place in the draft.

"It won't be a horrible thing," Campbell said of facing Richards, currently the No. 9-ranked draft prospect. "It'll be good exposure because Addison is one of the top-ranked wide receivers. "If they see that I can cover him and that I'm doing well against him, they'll definitely start looking more to me."

The teammates have battled in practice for years, so they'll be familiar with each other. They also know what facing the others can do for them. "In May at the East West Bowl (all-star game), it seemed like Tevaughn was the only corner I went against," Richards said. "At the same time, he was probably the best one there, so it was good for me to go up against a guy of his talent.

"But I'm not going to go easy on him this weekend."

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One part combine, one part film help make draft day decisions

The Leader-Post (Regina) - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:Murray McCormick
Page: D2

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have a game plan for the CFL's national combine.

The Riders know which positions they would like to bolster when the league's seven-round draft is conducted May 12. The Riders will keep that wish list in mind when the CIS and NCAA draft-eligible prospects gather Friday in Toronto for the first day of the three-day combine.

"You have a sense of where you want to improve your roster so when you're going there you're looking for a particular skill set and positions where you need help,' said Riders assistant general manager Jeremy O'Day. "Some teams have the philosophy of drafting the best player available. Our philosophy is we go with our needs and take the best player in that need position.'

That means the Riders will spend more time scrutinizing offensive linemen and receivers, two positions in which the team's national depth could be improved. The draft is reportedly deep with offensive linemen and receivers.

There is a big-picture aspect to the national combine and the regional combines held in Edmonton on Monday, in Montreal on Wednesday and today in Toronto. The latest draft cycle kicked off in May at the East West Bowl, where scouts had an opportunity to evaluate many of the CIS prospects for the 2015 draft. Through the 2014 season, CFL scouts visited CIS and NCAA teams to build up a file on each prospect. The Riders, like most CFL teams, compiled files on the participants before the regional combines even started. The combines provide an opportunity for the Riders to watch the players run through drills and timed tests.

"It's a chance to see each of the kids in person and going against each other in the drills,' O'Day said. "We also see how they measure up in their measurables. There are certain measurables that have to be met in order to be considered a pro. Whether it's weighing the right weight or being fast enough or strong enough, those are all things that have to be considered.' The Riders use the information gleaned from the combines and game film to make their draft decisions.

"It's never going to change,' O'Day said. "You can't hide from the video camera when you're playing on the football field. You have to put a pretty heavy evaluation on the skill set you see on the video. The guys can move a bit from these combines. They can improve or maybe even lower their value.

"It shouldn't be a huge dramatic jump from what you see from these guys in shorts and T-shirts.' Medicals and interviews

are scheduled on Friday at the national combine. Testing and individual drills are to be held Saturday and Sunday.

mmccormick@leaderpost.com Twitter: @murraylp

Interviews key part of combine

Not all of the attention will be on the physical prowess of the participants at the CFL's national combine on the weekend.

A key aspect of the combine takes place behind closed doors where the nine CFL teams conduct interviews with the CIS and NCAA prospects for the league's draft on May 12. Each team is allowed 23 interview slots of 13 minutes in duration during the combine, which runs Friday through Sunday in Toronto. Teams can also run two meetings, allowing coaches and scouts to double up on the number of interviews. Saskatchewan Roughriders assistant general manager Jeremy O'Day said that teams conduct their interviews differently. The Riders interviewed some of the prospects before the national combine where they covered their personal backgrounds. The head start clears time for the Riders to focus on footballrelated topics while in Toronto.

"We show them some schemes on the board and then some film,' O'Day said.

"At the end, we want to see if they retained the information that was given to them. That way we can judge how they learn as a football player, what their education as a football player really is and if they can understand a pro-style playbook.' Addison Richards, a wide receiver with the University of Regina Rams, is the ninth-rated draft prospect by the CFL's Scouting Bureau heading into the national combine. The Regina product sounded like he's prepared for what will take place during the interviews. "Certainly the interview process is a big part of (the combine),' Richards told Ian Hamilton of the Leader-Post. "It's where they find out what type of guy you are, if there are any off-field issues, if you have a decent football IQ - that type of thing. Obviously, I hear horror stories from guys who have been through it before about questions they ask that try to throw you off or get under your skin or whatever.' Richards, who set U of R single-season records for catches (55) and receiving yards (918) in 2014, is eager for the interviews. "I'm looking forward to it because I'll get to meet some people that I've only ever seen on TV or heard about,' Richards said. "It's going to be pretty cool meeting some guys who are high up in Canadian football. I don't anticipate anything that will throw me off. I don't have anything to hide.

"I'm an open book."

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Paopao hopes to end SFU's coaching carousel; Wealth Of Experience: Former B.C. Lions coach and star takes over as offensive co-ordinator for the Clan

The Province - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:Howard Tsumura
Page: A66

When Joe Paopao tells you that he knows first-hand what life is like for student-athletes and their families at the collegiate level, he is speaking from personal experience.

"Having four children of my own that were student-athletes really helps in knowing what their mindset is," the former B.C. Lions' star quarterback of the late '70s and early '80s said Wednesday after he was officially announced as the new offensive co-ordinator of the Simon Fraser Clan football team.

"For me, it's a great opportunity to reconnect with this age group. I just want all of them to think of their next four to five years of university as something they will remember 40 or 50 years from now."

And that, aside from a resume chock full of Xs and Os as a former CFL head coach, co-ordinator and position coach, as well as a plethora of other varied experiences within the game, is what drew newly-hired Clan head coach Kelly Bates to put Paopao in charge of the offensive side of Simon Fraser's attack.

"Joe has so much football knowledge in his pinky finger, and all of that figures into the decision," said Bates, who last season, like Paopao, was a member of the Lions coaching staff.

"But the biggest factor is Joe and who he is, how he treats people the right way, and how personable he is." Paopao, 59, spent 11 seasons as a quarterback in the CFL and is now 25 seasons into his coaching career. He has been the head coach of the Lions and Ottawa Renegades, as well as the offensive co-ordinator with the Lions, Edmonton Eskimos, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Paopao was also the offensive co-ordinator with San Francisco of the short-lived XFL and spent seven seasons in Canadian Interuniversity Sport at Waterloo (2007-13), where he was the head coach for two seasons and the offensive coordinator for five.

He has also coached in the U.S. at both the high school and junior college levels.

And now, there is a return to the four-down game.

"It is very exciting," Paopao said, "but I have to be up front in that having my son at Eastern Oregon is a help."

Paopao's oldest son Tyler is that school's offensive co-ordinator, one which competes in the NAIA's Frontier Conference.

Wednesday, in the midst of the Clan's spring football practices, the Honolulu native and former collegiate star at Long Beach State stressed the importance of connecting with his players, most who have seen a carousel of coaches over their Clan careers. "In every situation, I am trying to evaluate, to get a sense of where they are at mentally and physically," Paopao said. "In all fairness, I am their fourth offensive co-ordinator in four years and this is the third new staff in three years for these young men. I am sensitive to that. As 19-to 22-year-olds, they are impressionable. You have to let them know that it's a new year and I know that is easier said than done, but that is what the game is."

SFU caps spring season with a controlled scrimmage set for a 2 p.m. start April 4.

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Ex-Spitfire Hyatt rejoins junior C team in Wheatley; DiGiacinto signs with Syracuse

Windsor Star - Thu Mar 26 2015 Page: B2

The Wheatley Sharks have made a number of changes for the 2015-2016 junior C hockey season.

Former Spitfire Brad Hyatt, who was an assistant coach with the Sharks for five years, is the new director of hockey operations, Wheatley native Pete Anthony is the general manager and Thomas Grubb from the Southpoint hockey program is the assistant GM.

Coach Ken Galerno will return for a sixth season behind the bench. His assistant coaches will be Josh Carnevale, Mark Epplett and Terry Symons.

"The sale of the team is almost complete," Hyatt said. "We're committed to staying in Wheatley and moving forward with our hockey club."

Hyatt said the ownership transfer to a group of Leamington and Wheatley families should be finished by the end of next month. The Sharks, who have reached the league final five times in 14 years, finished in seventh place and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs this year.

Syracuse bound

Windsor Spitfires forward Cristiano DiGiacinto signed an amateur tryout agreement with the American Hockey League's Syracuse Crunch while outgoing overager Lucas Venuto signed with the Pensacola Ice Flyers of the Southern Professional Hockey League.

The 19-year-old DiGiacinto was signed as a free agent by the Spitfires last season and selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning

in the sixth round of the NHL Draft. Syracuse is Tampa Bay's top affiliate team.

"As far as I know, I'll just practise with the team and get a feel for it for a week or so," DiGiacinto said. "I'm not sure about games, but with our season ending so short, it's kind of nice to keep playing a bit longer."

In his second season with the Spitfires, DiGiacinto had 21 goals and 45 points in 63 games along with 100 penalty minutes.

Venuto was acquired by the Spitfires at the Ontario Hockey League trade deadline for a sixth-round draft pick. The 20-year-old forward had 14 goals and 35 points in 31 games with Windsor and finished with 23 goals and 48 points in 68 games for the season.

The OHL awards were also announced Wednesday. Windsor native Trevor Murphy is the Spits' nominee for the Red Tilson player of the year award. Tecumseh's Matt Mancina is Peterborough's pick.

Puempel out

Essex native Matt Puempel may miss the rest of the regular season with the Ottawa Senators.

Puempel suffered a high-ankle sprain in Saturday's 5-3 victory against Toronto and is expected to be sidelined for three to four weeks. He was hit on the foot by a James Van Riemsdyk shot and played a couple of shifts in the second period before leaving the game.

The 22-year-old forward had two goals and one assist in 13 games for the Senators, who moved into a playoff position Wednesday and will be in Detroit to face the Red Wings Tuesday.

Before the injury, Puempel was playing on a top line with Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan.

"(Puempel) goes to the net," coach Dave Cameron told ottawasun. com. "That's what that line is missing when I had them together and they're off their game. No one goes to the net."

Royals blanked

The high school hockey final between Lajeunesse and L'Essor will be decided Thursday at Tecumseh Arena at 2:30 p.m. The L'Essor Aigles tied the best-ofthree series 1-1 against the Lajeunesse Royals with a 6-0 victory in Tecumseh Wednesday. Michael Hryniuk scored two goals, Mitchell Daudlin, Chris Ferris, Owen Bravo and Jacob Stadler added singles, Jeremy Oriet had two assists and Pierce Dubowski posted the shutout.

In Lajeunesse's 5-4 OT win at South Windsor Arena Tuesday, Eamon Gorman scored two goals, including the winner in overtime.

Renaud picked Former NHLer Mark Renaud was named Tecumseh's torchbearer for the Toronto Pan Am Games Torch Relay.

Renaud, who played for the Hartford Whalers and Buffalo Sabres and is a member of the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame, will carry the torch June 16 in memory of his son Mickey, who died of a rare heart condition in 2008.

The 41-day torch relay will include 3,000 torchbearers who will complete 200-metre segments.

CFL combine

Four members of the University of Windsor Lancers will be in Toronto Thursday to participate in the CFL Combine's Toronto regional camp.

Lancers defensive back Louis Polyzois, defensive lineman Tai Pham, receiver Gilbert Stewart and offensive lineman Jacob Myall are listed among 45 prospects for the camp, which also will include Windsor AKO Fratmen running back Brandon Donkers and linebacker Dillon Grondin.

Players participating in Thursday's camp will not only be looking to impress CFL scouts, but also earn a spot to the national combine Friday and Saturday in Toronto.

Team Ontario

Kingsville golfer Alyssa Getty won her singles match at the 17th annual Can-Am Junior Team Matches at the Wachesaw Plantation Club in Murrells Inlet, S.C. Getty, a member of Team Ontario, beat South Carolina's Jodee Tindal 12.5 to 5.5 on the weekend. The South Carolina team beat the team from the Golf Association of Ontario (GAO) 225 to 207.

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CFL next for Sam?

The Ottawa Sun - Wed Mar 25 2015
Byline:QMI AGENCY
Page: 47

Michael Sam, the first openly-gay player drafted into the NFL, isn't getting positive reviews.

The 25-year-old, who was taken in the seventh round last year by the St. Louis Rams, appeared at the NFL veteran's combine earlier this week in a bid to impress a host of scouts.

But according to one league agent, who spoke to TMZ Sports anonymously, Sam didn't do much to improve his stock.

"My real honest opinion is that he was flat out horrible," the agent told TMZ. "He did not belong out there."

It's the kind of feedback Sam received from both the Rams and Dallas Cowboys, a pair of clubs that cut the University of Missouri product from their practice squads last summer.

"He thinks he's a superstar. It would be nice if he could do something on the field to back up the attitude," the agent added.

Word arrived Sunday that Sam was at least considering a stint in the CFL if it doesn't work out in the NFL.

"He sells tickets," the agent said. "He attracts fans. And from there you never know."

CHARGE DROPPED

A misdemeanour battery charge against Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin was dropped Tuesday in Las Vegas.

The charge stemmed from an alleged incident at a nightclub in the Venetian casino in October. A West Hollywood, Calif., man accused Griffin of attacking him while an argument ensued over a photo that was taken at Tao nightclub.

Witnesses at the club refuted statements made by the alleged victim.

Griffin was accused of grabbing the man's neck, taking his cellphone and slapping him after he took a photo.

Proving the charge beyond a reasonable doubt would be

difficult, a prosecutor told a judge.

Griffin told the

Los Angeles Times

the incident was nothing more than a distraction.

"I mean, I feel worse just for the fact that it's a distraction," he said. "And I don't know how big of a distraction it really is, but it is. And that's what I feel mostly bad about."

SHARPER PLEADS GUILTY

Former NFL star Darren Sharper admitted on Tuesday to attempted sexual assault of two women in Las Vegas as part of a three-part plea bargain that prosecutors in Nevada, Arizona and California said would keep him in prison for at least nine years.

Sharper, 39, entered no contest or guilty pleas to separate sex-crimes cases in Los Angeles and suburban Phoenix on Monday, and has a fourth deal pending with prosecutors in New Orleans.

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CFL hopeful Stoqua keeps it in the family; Player with football roots will attend combine at Concordia in Montreal

Ottawa Citizen - Wed Mar 25 2015
Byline:Gord Holder
Page: B3

Sean Stoqua already knows six of the other 47 athletes participating in the Canadian Football League pre-draft "combine" in Montreal.

Kicker Ryan Bégin of Orléans and linebacker Drew Morris of Ottawa will be there with their Acadia Axemen teammate from Stittsville, as will four St. Francis Xavier X-Men from Ottawa: running backs Ashton Dickson and Jerome Stevens, linebacker Jesse Stevens and wide receiver Randy Roseway.

"Regardless of what happens with the draft, I think (the combine) will be a good experience," says Stoqua, a defensive back with six interceptions in three-plus seasons at Acadia. "Just going and competing with the other players and seeing how I measure up will be good."

Ottawa's Justin Warden and Nyjill Wilson, Bishop's Gaiters defensive backs, and Hull's William Langlais, a Sherbrooke Vert et Or running back, will also be there Wednesday for one of the three regional combines. The first was Monday at Edmonton, where Simon Fraser Clan defensive lineman Kristian Lawrence of Ottawa was among the hopefuls, and the third takes place Thursday at Toronto.

Their common goal is an invitation to the "national" combine also at Toronto. Among 40 players pre-selected for physical testing, football drills and interviews between Friday and Sunday are Ottawa Gee-Gees defensive lineman Ettore Lattanzio, Laval Rouge et Or offensive lineman Danny Groulx of Gatineau and St. Francis Xavier linebacker Ron Omara of Aylmer.

Last year, 14 players were promoted from regionals to the national combine, and others who didn't receive invitations were drafted anyway in May. Among them were receiver Scott Macdonell and defensive lineman Nigel Romick, both of whom cracked the roster of the Ottawa Redblacks.

"I just want to go in there and do the best I can," says Stoqua, who's listed at 5-11 and 180 pounds. "Try to jump high, run fast and then compete in the position drills. That's what I'm concentrating on: the process more so than any particular outcome."

There are a couple of reasons why it's worth noting Stoqua's positioning to be assessed and to assess possibilities for a Canadian professional football career.

First comes family history.

Stoqua's father, Pat, was an Ottawa Rough Riders slotback for six seasons before Sean was born and famously scored a 102-yard pass-and-run touchdown in the 1981 East Division final. Even before that, long before the CFL formed, great-grandfather Sutherland Campbell "Suddie" Gilmour played rugby football for the Riders in 1907 after winning hockey's Stanley Cup with the Ottawa Silver Seven, and grandfather Sutherland Blair Gilmour lined up at middle wing and defensive secondary for the Riders between 1931 and 1936.

Ironically, basketball was Sean Stoqua's first sports passion. Skilled and committed, he joined the Ottawa Guardsmen club program initiated by Carleton Ravens head coach Dave Smart and played for the Sacred Heart High School team coached by Tony House.

Football was something he started playing "for fun" with the Sacred Heart Huskies and for one year only with the Bell Warriors club program. He caught the bug, though.

"I just enjoyed it too much to stop playing, and that's what has led me here," he says, referring to Halifax, where he studies kinesiology between and around Axemen football and basketball seasons.

The chance to play both sports was why Stoqua chose Acadia over Carleton, where Pat was a hall of fame two-sport Ravens star before the Rough Riders made him a territorial pick in 1979.

Cancelled in 1998, the Ravens football program was still two years from revival when the younger Stoqua graduated from high school in 2011.

Acadia won conference titles in both sports in each of his first two years, with Stoqua totalling three interceptions at cornerback and averaging 11.7 and 8.6 points per game at point guard.

TURN IN THE ROAD In 2013, though, Stoqua broke an ankle during a fall football practice, ending that campaign after just two games - a successful petition gained him an extra year of eligibility - and keeping him offthe basketball court entirely.

He got back in both games in 2014-15. After contributing three interceptions, 20 solo tackles and nine assists as starting safety, Stoqua swapped cleats for sneakers and averaged 13 points per game. No post-season success this time, however.

His father's advice throughout the year was for Sean to take care of his body and to concentrate on speed and agility rather than bulking up, so training featured a weekly set of leg squats and all the speed and agility work he could squeeze out of basketball.

Now it's time to find out if that makes any difference for CFL talent evaluators. After flying to Montreal on Tuesday, Stoqua will attend Wednesday's combine at Concordia University.

He'll then drive home to Stittsville for one night, followed by either an eastbound return flight to Halifax or a westbound extension to Toronto for the national combine.

Four players received that good news Monday, with another 90 or so hoping for more of the same, including those 10 from the capital region.

"The amount of Ottawa players being selected to go to combines," Stoqua says, "is a reflection of how good the coaches are and how good the programs are."

gholder@ottawacitizen.com Twitter.com/HolderGord

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Jordan Yantz of the Manitoba Bisons is looking to be that Canadian quarterback who makes it in the CFL ... McCallum still kicking at 45 ... Grant back with Ticats

The Toronto Sun - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:KIRK PENTON
Page: S35

Every year a couple of quarterbacks come out to the CFL combine to serve as the guys who throw the balls to the receivers and hand them off to running backs. They're basically invisible to the scouts on hand.

There is talk around the CFL that Jordan Yantz could be the Canadian quarterback who breaks that trend this year.

The University of Manitoba Bisons quarterback will be one of two pivots taking part in this weekend's CFL combine in Toronto, and he can't wait to prove he can play the position like his American counterparts.

"I'm putting everything I've worked for my entire life into this weekend," Yantz said Wednesday. "Being a Canadian quarterback, I'm honoured to get this opportunity, because how Canadian quarterbacks are evaluated at the next level is very tough and I'm honoured to be one of the two guys who gets invited to this combine and get a chance.

"I've been playing football for 16 years, and this is kind of the final interview. It's something that I'm really excited about, and I've been training extra hard, not only physically but mentally as well."

Yantz, who hails from Regina, has a strong arm and also has the ability to move well around the pocket. He threw 10 touchdown passes and an average of 270 passing yards per game for the Bisons, who advanced all the way to the CIS semifinal round in November.

There are CFL scouts who have said Yantz has the tools to play quarterback in the league, but there's a big difference between saying that and actually signing them to a contract. Yantz took part in Winnipeg Blue Bombers training camp last season as part of a CIS/CFL initiative to give Canadian quarterbacks some experience, and he didn't look out of place.

Yantz, who is a confident young man, believes he can be the Canadian quarterback who doesn't have to switch positions to play professionally.

"For sure," he said. "It just takes the right guy and the right person to say, 'Hey, we're gonna take a chance, and we're gonna give this guy a shot.' It just depends on number crunching and giving a Canadian quarterback a chance. That's all it's going to take. Testing results aren't as relevant for me. I don't think it makes a difference so much for me if I run a blazing fast 40 or jump the highest.

"It's just simply going to have to come down to one general manager or one head coach or one guy that's in the war room to say, 'We're gonna give this guy a chance.' "

Calgary's Andrew Buckley is the other quarterback who will take part in the combine.

MOVING ON

Two regional combines have taken place already, with a third scheduled for Thursday in Toronto.

Eight players--four from Monday's Edmonton combine and four from the one in Montreal on Wednesday --performed well enough to punch their tickets to the main evaluation camp.

Three members of the Montreal Carabins advanced from Wednesday's regional--defensive lineman Jean-Samuel Blanc and defensive back Anthony Coady and receiver Mikhail Davidson-- along with Sherbooke running back William Langlais.

Regina defensive back Kahlen Branning, Okanagan Sun defensive back Dexter Janke, South Dakota linebacker Auston Johnson, and Brigham Young offensive lineman Quinn Lawlor were extended invitations on Monday in Edmonton.

LATE HITS

One of the more high profile remaining free agents resigned with his team earlier this week. Receiver Bakari Grant decided to return to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats ...The B.C. Lions extended defensive back Ryan Phillips' contract for two more years, and they also announced kicker Paul McCallum, who turned 45 in January, will be back for the 2015 campaign ...The CFL competition committee started meeting in Toronto on Wednesday and will continue to chat on Thursday. Several significant rules are on the agenda, including changes to the convert, punt team movement and the play clock.

- - -

HERE'S WHAT THE INSIDERS ARE SAYING ...

CFL coaches and managers give their anonymous thoughts on what they're talking about behind closed doors:

Who's had the best off-season? Ottawa. They got better for sure. We were talking about the other division last week, and some of us think they might be good enough to sneak in the playoffs over in the East ... How long are you willing to sign and how likely are you to want to stay where you are drafted? Those are questions that have to be asked of guys at the combine. It can become prevalent now because this will be the first year that we're completely working under the new CBA. Who's the first high, high pick to say,'Thanks, but I'm just taking a two-year deal' for any number of reasons? Because they went to a regional combine or because they're an East Coast guy going west or a West Coast guy going east. Who's the first to bring that up? ... What's surprised me the most about the off-season so far was Montreal getting old on purpose. They signed ( Nik) Lewis, (traded for Fred) Stamps, ( Chris) Thompson, ( Stefan) Logan and some other old players I'm probably forgetting. Maybe they wanted more veterans because they have young quarterbacks. I don't know. ( Jim) Popp has a lot of Grey Cup rings, so I'll just worry about coaching my team and let him figure out Montreal ... So many kids went to the NFL regional workouts. How does it affect their performance this weekend? Because they're not built that way, to be doing multiple combines in a short period of time ... Getting a new commissioner doesn't affect us much on the football side ... One player we're looking forward to seeing this weekend is (Calgary offensive lineman) Sukh Chungh ...We don't have enough draft picks. I hope we can trade back and get a couple more ... If you had a good free-agent period this year, you were likely not that good last year. In saying that, Ottawa and Winnipeg did fine this year. Toronto did not have a good free-agency period ... This draft is deep. A lot of future starters will be drafted after the first two rounds. This year, third-and fourth-round draft picks are as valuable as second-rounders are most years ... One player people are talking about going into the regional combine is ( Henoc and Cauchy) Muamba's brother ( Kelvin, a receiver). He is working out at the Toronto one and has supposedly put up good testing numbers. He's been injury prone, though ... I've coached a long time and this is the best group of offensive lineman I've seen in the draft. Wouldn't be surprised to see five or six offensive lineman go in the first round ... (Receiver) Nic Demski has a lot to prove at the combine ... The first thing the new commissioner has to do is fix Toronto ... Everybody needs offensive linemen. Everybody. Last year, two or three teams were playing with three American offensive lineman. That's not what they wanted to do; it's what they had to do ... I think that number six ( Jake Harty) at Calgary is going to be a good player. He won't be a first-rounder. Might not even be a second-rounder. But in a few years he might be as good as any of the receivers in this draft ... Looking at our draft breakdown, I realized that Calgary and Hamilton -- the two Grey Cup teams -- have the most picks in the upcoming draft. How does that happen? The rich will get richer. But as much as it (bugs) me I have to give them credit. They weren't given those extra picks -- they traded for them. Good organizations find a way to win.

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kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca Twitter: @PentonKirk

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Winnipeg

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Previewing potential picks in draft

Winnipeg Free Press - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Paul Wiecek
Page: C5

Winnipeg Blue Bombers GM Kyle Walters will get his last best chance this weekend to figure out what he's going to do with a particularly enticing bounty of draft picks the Bombers hold for the 2015 CFL Draft in May.

The Bombers own three picks in the first two rounds of this year's draft -- the second, 11th and 15th overall picks -- plus three more picks at Nos. 33, 38 and 46.

Add in the fact this year's draft is considered unusually deep and bountiful and the Bombers are going to be particularly keen observers this weekend at the CFL National Combine, which begins today in Toronto. The combine provides CFL GMs their last chance to put the year's best Canadian prospects under the microscope and Walters said Thursday that what he sees in Toronto will be critical in determining what the Bombers decide to do with all their draft picks, including the No. 2 overall choice.

"It's a very important weekend for us," said Walters. "It's going to be very important to see these kids competing against each other because sometimes the competition they face on a week to week basis during the season isn't the strongest."

Walters said the Bombers will decide soon after the combine how they'd like to use their picks.

Walters raised some eyebrows recently when he suggested the Bombers might use their first pick to draft University of Manitoba receiver Nic Demski, instead of one of the many highly ranked offensive linemen.

Walters was noncommital when asked if Demski -- who will work out in Toronto this weekend -- is still in play as a top pick for the Bombers.

"We're looking at all the good players I guess would be the conservative, safe answer," said Walters. "This is a good deep draft and so we'll have to strategize between that 2, 11 and 15 (picks) how we can get the best three players to help our team and in what order that happens."

Meanwhile, Walters sounded skeptical when asked about some rule changes that are being discussed by the rules committee at meetings, including a rule that would even more severely restrict any downfield contact by a defender on a receiver. The rule change is one of several aimed at increasing scoring in the CFL this coming season after a 2014 season in which offensive scoring was down 23 per cent.

"I just think everything goes in cycles," said Walters. "And in my opinion, with all the young quarterbacks and injuries to quarterbacks (last season), let's take a deep breath and not panic after just one year."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

COMBING

THE COMBINE

The CFL National Combine begins Friday in Toronto and will provide league GMs their last look at many of the top Canadian prospects heading into May's CFL Draft. While some of the very best prospects won't be in attendance -- including No. 1-ranked Brett Boyko, an offensive lineman out of UNLV, and second-ranked Alex Mateas, another offensive lineman out of UConn -- the majority of the top 20 will be working out this weekend in Toronto. Here's a look at some of the players to watch:

The offensive linemen

Conventional wisdom in the CFL is you use your top picks to draft Canadian offensive linemen whenever possible and this year's crop of Canadian O-linemen is particularly deep.

With Mateas and Boyko taking a pass this weekend -- both men have NFL aspirations -- all eyes in Toronto will be on Sean McEwan and Sukh Chung, a pair of impressive sun-blockers out of Calgary who are ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, by the CFL scouting bureau.

You can also expect to see scouts take a long, hard look at Danny Groulx, an eighth-ranked prospect out of the offensive linemen factory that is Laval.

The Bison factor

The University of Manitoba are sending a CIS-high three players to this year's national combine -- receiver Nic Demski, quarterback Jordan Yantz and running back Kienan LaFrance.

Demski is ranked fifth and is the only ranked player of the Manitoba troika, but LaFrance and, in particular, Yantz are also expected to get a close look.

CFL teams don't usually draft Canadian QBs anymore but there is some talk that Yantz, who will likely also take some reps at receiver this weekend to showcase his athleticism, could impress enough to prompt some GM to take a mid-to-late round flyer on him.

The big unknown

Western defensive lineman Daryl Waud -- who is ranked third by the CFL scouting bureau -- is both the highest-ranked CIS player and the highest-ranked player who will be in Toronto this weekend.

Waud's got all kinds of size and talent and looks like he could be CFL ready, but he was also one of two Canadian university players who played in the East-West Shrine Game in Florida this winter.

Waud impressed the NFL scouts at the Shrine Game and, while he's keeping his CFL options open, any GM who drafts him in May would do so with the full knowledge there's a good chance Waud might never report to a CFL training camp.

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Willy, Blue not running same pattern

Winnipeg Free Press - Wed Mar 25 2015
Byline:Ed Tait
Page: D4

Drew Willy owned this town last July and August -- hello "Willy-peg" -- but contract talks between the Blue Bombers and his agent aren't exactly pointing toward a deal that will soon see him put pen to paper.

In fact, unless the Willy camp budges off its asking price on a new deal -- they are said to be seeking in the neighbourhood of $400,000 -- there's a very real possibility the quarterback could play out the final year of his contract this season.

So a club that spent eons trying to find some stability at quarterback may now be willing to roll the dice they can re-sign their No. 1 gun after the 2015 Canadian Football League campaign.

"There are a variety of factors at play, as there are with any negotiations," said Bomber GM Kyle Walters this week. "I'll just say conversations are ongoing with Drew's representatives and, out of respect for the process and everyone involved, we will keep the details of those talks in-house."

Willy was 7-10 in his first year as the Bombers starter, finishing with 3,769 yards passing -- third in the CFL and the best by a Winnipeg passer in seven seasons. He threw for 14 touchdowns against 17 interceptions and finished with a QB-efficiency rating of 83.9.

But his numbers also took a serious nosedive in the second half of the season as he was repeatedly pounded behind the line of scrimmage. The Bombers yielded a league-high 71 sacks last season, with Willy the victim of 66 of them. To put that total in perspective, the last time the Bombers won a Grey Cup, in 1990, they surrendered a league-low 26 sacks.

Willy earned around $280,000 in the first year of his deal and is to make the same this season. Contract talks are said to have been cordial, but Willy's representative is seeking a new deal that would pay him around the same as Mike Reilly of the Edmonton Eskimos, but more than the first year of the new four-year extension the Calgary Stampeders signed Bo Levi Mitchell to earlier this month.

Saskatchewan Roughriders QB Darian Durant is believed to be the CFL's highest-paid pivot, as he'll earn around $500,000 in 2015.

All this isn't to say the Bombers don't want Willy back, because they do -- especially as rumblings grow louder Robert Marve, his promising understudy, is interested in chasing his NFL dream after his contract runs out following this season.

Upgrade

The club has spent considerable cash in free agency to upgrade the offensive line in front of Willy, signing all-star left tackle Stanley Bryant, veteran centre Dominic Picard and former Hamilton Tiger-Cat right tackle Marc Dile. while adding a potential deep threat at receiver in former Toronto Argonaut Darvin Adams.

That activity, understandably, has taken a serious bite out of the money in the salary cap Walters &Co. have at their disposal -- including how much dough they can pile up for Willy. There's a possibility of a bridge deal of sorts, where Willy gets a smaller raise this year with a bigger base salary after that.

But the more likely scenario, at least as negotiations stand right now, is for the club to opt to get a better read on Willy as a franchise QB this year by lining up a superior O-line that can keep him off his back, by giving him more weapons at his disposal and another year with the same offensive co-ordinator in Marcel Bellefeuille.

If this season unfolds as they hope and he lights up defences while leading the club to the playoffs, they know they'll be held up for ransom by Willy's camp next winter. And that's a big, fat cheque they'd then be more willing to write.

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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Taking inventory

Winnipeg Free Press - Fri Mar 27 2015
Byline:Paul Wiecek
Page: C5

Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea took some time out Thursday from evaluating talent at the CFL regional combine in Toronto to give the Free Press his first one-on-one interview since the end of last season.

Here's an edited transcript of what O'Shea had to tell Free Press football writer Paul Wiecek about the mistakes he made last season, the Bombers' new defence and what all those upgrades on the offensive line this off-season will mean on the field:

WIECEK: You said at the end of last season that you'd do a self-evaluation of the job you did as a rookie head coach. Did that happen?

O'SHEA: Yes.

WIECEK: So, what did you do right last year? Let's start with that.

O'SHEA: I don't think it was anything I did in particular. I think as an organization, we made some good moves. I think as an organization, the players included, we started to shift the culture to one that's going to allow us to win more games. But that wasn't me -- it wasn't one thing I did. It was a collective effort and having the right group.

WIECEK: And what do you personally need to get better at this season?

O'SHEA: I need to have a better working routine, one that's more consistent and allows me to assess things on a daily basis and a weekly basis. I need to have that planned out better and stick to a consistent plan. That's one thing I noted. And I've also got to figure out what the new message is, what we're growing to. Because we can't just repeat the same things, talk about all the same things we talked about last year. We've got to grow and find out where we're going.

WIECEK: Is hosting the Grey Cup this season a coaching tool you can use with your players?

O'SHEA: That's interesting how that will fit in... It will be an assessment I will have to keep a finger on to see what the group might need to hear regarding that. Obviously, they're training this off-season like they're going to be in the Grey Cup. They want to be in it. They don't want someone living in their locker room, for sure.

WIECEK: What mistakes did you make last year?

O'SHEA: I'm sure I made a pile.

WIECEK: Is there one that stands out?

O'SHEA: Honestly, Paul, on a weekly basis -- maybe more than that -- as I'm doing things this off-season, (things come up) that remind me of things I did last season that need to be changed... Yeah, I made mistakes. Absolutely. Without a doubt.

WIECEK: Moving on -- a new defensive co-ordinator. How is your defenxe going to be different this year?

O'SHEA: Obviously, the systems are going to be markedly different and what we're going to ask the players to do will be different. But what we're going to ask the players to do on a daily basis will be the same. The effort and attention to detail will be the same.

WIECEK: Right, but in a general way, how is the defence going to be different under Richie Hall? I'm not looking for Xs and O's, just a general picture of what people can expect to see different this season?

O'SHEA: But really the difference is going to be X's and O's... In terms of Richie the man, he's obviously a well-respected coach, a good man and the players will like him. And he'll find a way to get the most out of them.

WIECEK: How about the offence? You'll have the same offensive co-ordinator but will the offence be markedly different with all the personnel changes, especially on the offensive line, in the off-season?

O'SHEA: Yeah, I think some of the free agent acquisitions (on the O-line) we made are going to allow us to do things differently... I think they will allow us to be more successful in our run game.

WIECEK: And obviously you're hoping that new line will also do a better job of keeping Drew Willy more upright?

O'SHEA: Of course, that's part of it too. But one of the chief complaints (last season) from the media and fan base was about our run game. And I think we've addressed that.

WIECEK: What are the plans for Steve Morley.

O'SHEA: He's on our team.

WIECEK: So you fully expect him to report for training camp?

O'SHEA: Right now, he's on our team. But it's tough to talk about personnel right now.

WIECEK: Is Sam Hurl the next Mike O'Shea?

O'SHEA: Sam Hurl will be better than that bum. He's his own player. He possesses different skills sets than Mike O'Shea ever did. He's fast, that's for sure. He's got a hell of a lot of instincts. And I look forward to watching him play.

WIECEK: Is Hurl ready to be a starting middle linebacker in the CFL?

O'SHEA: We think so.

WIECEK: Kyle Walters said in my paper a couple weeks ago that you're looking long and hard at (U of M receiver) Nic Demski with your second overall draft pick. What do you see in Demski?

O'SHEA: He's proven himself at a very high level for a number of years with Manitoba. And in pressure situations. They've played some big games and he's been a cream of the crop receiver for a number of years. He's an exciting athlete. That you can see on film. But he's got to test well (this weekend at the national CFL combine).

WIECEK: Last thing: We had a story in our paper this week that Drew Willy might head into his option year this season without a contract extension. As a head coach, would you rather have your starting QB head into the season nice and secure with a long-term extension or would you rather have him spend this season playing for a new contract?

O'SHEA: I've never thought about it, honestly.

WIECEK: It would seem to me there's pluses and minuses in both scenario.

O'SHEA: I've got a lot of trust in our players and I don't think it matters where they are in their contract negotiations. Drew Willy is going to play his hardest regardless. I don't know it's going to make a difference. But that's an interesting question.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @PaulWiecek

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Blue Bombers visit Selkirk schools

Selkirk Journal - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:BY ADAM PELESHATY ADAM.PELESHATY@SUNMEDIA.CA
Page: 15

St. Patrick's Day proved to be a lucky day to wear 'Blue and Gold' for students in the Selkirk area.

Students at East Selkirk Middle School and Ecole Selkirk Junior High were visited by Blue Bomber players Maurice "Mo" Leggett, Chris Greaves and Stanley Bryant and also team mascots Buzz and Boomer March 17. Also accompanying the players was former Blue Bombers kicker and three-time Grey Cup champion Trevor Kennerd.

The visits were part of the Canadian Football League club's Winter Caravan, which travelled to other rural communities in Manitoba during the winter and this spring. The Winter Caravan also promoted the 103rd Grey Cup Festival surrounding the game itself, which will take place at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg Nov. 29.

The three players recounted their own football experiences and extolled the values of making positive life choices. In exchange, the students at both schools asked the players questions and received autographs afterwards.

One question that was asked at both schools was what were the players' favourite National Hockey League teams?

Bryant, a North Carolina native, answered with the Carolina Hurricanes, while Greaves, originally from Toronto, stated the Maple Leafs.

"Well, I'm from Pittsburgh. But it's a tie between the (Penguins) and the Jets," exclaimed Leggett which elicited cheers from the students.

The next day, all three players visited Stonewall and Carman, March 19.The Winter Caravan will continue throughout April with visits to Morden, Winkler, Altona and Portage la Prairie.

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Blue prez visits Stonewall

The Stonewall Argus - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:BY ADAM PELESHATY ADAM.PELESHATY@SUNMEDIA.CA
Page: 2

Winnipeg Blue Bombers president and CEO Wade Miller was the guest speaker at the Stonewall Chamber of Commerce's luncheon at the Quarry Park Heritage Arts Centre March 18.Three Bombers players, Chris Greaves, Maurice "Mo" Leggett and Stanley Bryant, as well as former Bombers kicker, and three-time Grey Cup champion Trevor Kennerd were also in attendance.

The event was part of the football club's Winter Caravan, which travels to rural communities in Manitoba to promote the 103rd Grey Cup Festival. The festival surrounds the Canadian Football League's championship game at Investors Group Field, Nov. 29.

At the luncheon, which had more people in attendance than the one held in Selkirk the day before, Miller appreciated the support for the Blue Bombers from the people of Stonewall, and mentioned the shuttle bus that transports fans to games from the Rockwood Motor Inn. He also extolled the football club's and the CFL's accessibility to the fans.

"Unlike any other professional league, you're sitting in a room with three (players) having lunch," said Miller. "And I think that's really special, that is what the Canadian Football League is about, that is what the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are about."

Miller told those in attendance that he expects this year's Blue Bombers team to be successful, and also stated that Investors Group Field, due to the fans, is "the loudest place to play football". The team will tally up all of the penalties caused by the fans (time-count violations, offsides, procedure penalties) and put the number on the scoreboard this season.

When asked about Winnipeg's strategy for the 2015 CFL Draft May 12, Miller answered the team's priority will be to draft either an offensive lineman, or a receiver in the first round. The Bombers have three picks in the first two rounds of this year's draft.

Finally, Miller revealed he has a family connection to Stonewall.

"My dad and family had a hobby farm on Sturgeon Road (Road 8 East). So, I spent a lot of time out at this quarry when I was younger, when I was a kid. I love Stonewall and this community, and you guys are huge supporters of the football club and we really appreciate it," he said.

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Edmonton

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Esks' Jones rounds out coaching staff; Scheper added | CFL.ca | Official Site of the Canadian Football League

cfl.ca - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:CFL.ca Staff

EDMONTON -- After a whirlwind of change one year ago, the Edmonton Eskimos announced a 2015 coaching staff with only one addition on Tuesday.

Veteran coach Mike Scheper was added to the Esks' staff as the offensive line coach, entering his 13th season as a coach and seventh coaching the O-line. The position is a change from recently, however, after Scheper coached the defensive line in Winnipeg and previously, Saskatchewan, with whom he first entered the league in 2009.

Scheper's experience on the offensive line includes coaching at St. Francis High School, Glendale Community College and Fresno State. He also served as the cornerbacks coach at College of the Canyons and as the defensive line coach at Portland State.

Related Links Reactions from EDM Regional Combine QB Pat White calls it a career 2015 CFL Schedule A native of Pasadena, Cal., Scheper played centre on Utah State’s offensive line, graduating in 2002.

Scheper now rounds out a coaching staff that returns almost entirely intact from a season ago, when the Eskimos held a 12-6 record as part of a strong bounceback campaign under rookie head coach Chris Jones.

Here are the returning members of the Eskimos' 2015 coaching staff:

Stephen McAdoo, Offensive Coordinator Craig Dickenson, Special Teams Coordinator Jarious Jackson, Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator/Player Development Kez McCorvey, Receivers Phillip Lolley, Linebackers Ed Philion, Defensive Line Jason Shivers, Defensive Backs Craig Davoren*, Running Backs, Special Teams Assistant

*Davoren adds the new title of running backs coach in addition to special teams assistant.

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BC

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Coach's connections land him NFLer; Reunited: Receiver Lavelle Hawkins signs with B.C. Lions to play for Jeff Tedford

The Province - Wed Mar 25 2015
Byline:Lowell Ullrich
Page: A58

If only Jeff Tedford could perform the impossible.

A second NFL receiver with a past connection to the new B.C. Lions coach, 28-year-old Lavelle Hawkins, was signed Tuesday, another sign of the benefits that come from running an NCAA program for 11 seasons and the direction in which the CFL club may be heading.

Tedford had Hawkins at the University of California. They were reunited briefly with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year and will continue the association in an attempt to continue a career that includes four other NFL stops, including five seasons with the Tennessee Titans.

B.C. has again this winter treated the CFL free agent market like anthrax, signing only one player so far. But since joining the Lions in December, Tedford has snared NFL receiver Austin Collie to potentially break the import ratio, and a college quarterbacking prospect, Greg McGhee, who reportedly cited the resumé of the coach as his top reason behind the signing.

No, Marshawn Lynch is not next. Still, it's not bad for someone who has Lynch, Aaron Rodgers, DeSean Jackson and a host of other established NFL products who went to California on speed dial.

Tedford gave Hawkins his first break when he was given a scholarship in 2005 to Cal after being raised by his grandmother in Stockton, Calif. He had 771 yards over five years as a fourth-round pick by Tennessee but hasn't parlayed the success elsewhere, appearing in only four regular season games as a kick returner since 2012.

Appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, the new coach said his team will not be composed entirely of past acquaintances.

"We've had some calls and there's been a few (former players) who show up at workouts but it hasn't been overwhelming, even though it might continue for awhile," Tedford said Tuesday about his rapport with Cal grads and players he recruited who are still at the Pac-12 school.

"Having a little inside knowledge as to what they're all about gives you a leg up from what they'll give you from day one. The important thing is, do they fit with what (rebuilding) you want to do?" And from the rebuilding so far, it's clear Tedford has identified his receiving corps as arguably one of the Lions' weakest links this side of the line of scrimmage since Geroy Simon left.

With injuries also a factor, the Lions ended last season starting three Canadian receivers who had just 834 combined yards and averaged a little more than one catch per game each.

Collie, also a fourth-round NFL pick, becomes an instant candidate to unseat either Shawn Gore, Marco Iannuzzi or Kito Poblah in the offence, assuming Tedford isn't enamoured with the three other non-imports on the roster who have produced even less.

Hawkins would figure to give Tedford a chance to start a third import alongside Emmanuel Arceneaux and others, including Courtney Taylor, Bryan Burnham and Lavasier Tuinei. Hawkins could make up for the free agent loss of Ernest Jackson, who took his 813 yards and 49 catches to Ottawa.

Tedford may not have any more Cal products to announce Wednesday, but will be on hand for a breakfast gathering of the Lions business advisory group, where it is expected the club will confirm a two-year radio rights-holders deal with TSN 1040.

lullrich@theprovince.com twitter.com/fifthqtr

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Former NFLer Hawkins signs on

Vancouver Sun - Wed Mar 25 2015 Page: C15

The B.C. Lions added to their receiving corps Tuesday, announcing the signing of former National Football League pass catcher Lavelle Hawkins. The 28-year-old Hawkins, a fourthround 2008 draft pick of the Tennessee Titans, had 71 receptions for 771 yards and a touchdown for the team over five seasons. The University of California grad also spent time with the San Diego Chargers as a kick returner in 2013. Coming to the Lions will reunite him with his former college coach, new Lions boss JeffTedford. "He's a gifted route-runner who will be able to take advantage of our larger field and I look forward to seeing how he will contribute to our offence," Tedford said in a statement.

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Lions sign former NFLer Hawkins

24 Hours Vancouver - Wed Mar 25 2015 Page: 20

Former Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers WR Lavelle Hawkins has signed with the BC Lions. Hawkins also played under Lions head coach Jeff Tedford at Cal.

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Around the Seawall: Canucks sign Tanev to 5-year deal; BC Lions ink ex-NFL receiver Hawkins

BC Local News - Tue Mar 24 2015
Byline:Kolby Solinsky
Page: 1

The Vancouver Canucks locked up Chris Tanev to a new five-year deal on Tuesday, the team announced on its website . As is standard now, terms of the deal were not released, but they should drip out soon.

(UPDATE: The five-year deal is reportedly worth a total $22.5 million - that's a $4.5 million cap hit per-year.)

"Chris has developed into an excellent NHL defenceman and is an extremely important part of our team," said Vancouver's general manager, Jim Benning, in a team statement. "He's a player you want on the ice in the most critical points of a game and we're excited about having him with our group as we continue to play to win today, with an eye to the future."

The future of Tanev, who joined the Canucks as a free agent signed by Mike Gillis in 2010, has been a topic of discussion and concern since he made his full-time debut during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, filling in admirably and stably on an injured defensive core against the eventual champion Boston Bruins.

A restricted free agent seemingly every day of every year, Tanev had signed two consecutive one-year deals before the 2014-15 season - his current contract was set to expire this summer, paying him $2 million.

Tanev has two goals and 16 total points in 60 games this season, and has evolved into (perhaps) the team's most reliable defensive player. When healthy, he and Alex Edler have also formed the Canucks' No. 1 blueline pairing for Willie Desjardins' lineup.

Tanev was also a favourite of last year's coach, John Tortorella, who often praised the now-25 year old: "He's picked up how we want to play quicker than anybody out of the whole group," Tortorella said in October , shortly after he took over - not long before the season went off the rails.

Later on in the season, Tortorella joked that he'd been told to stop saying so many good things about Tanev, since the defenceman's contract was expiring the following summer.

The Canucks host the Winnipeg Jets tonight with crucial playoff points up for grabs - Vancouver sits second in the Pacific Division, but barely ahead of both Los Angeles and Calgary, while the Jets are holding down the second Wild Card spot.

More Benning, on Tanev...

In a press conference on Tuesday, Benning elaborated on Tanev's deal and said he had asked the young defenceman to sign a one-year deal last summer, in the hope it would give the Canucks flexibility "to add depth" to their roster ( via TSN 1040 radio ).

"He was understanding of it, he wants to win," Benning said. "We told him that if he agrees to do that, we'll look after him in the long-term, and that's what happened today."

Benning also praised Tanev for his 2014-15 season, which has seen the defender log first-line minutes with Alex Edler - another talented defenceman who had, until this season, left a lot questioning his consistency and back-end game.

"(Chris) plays with a lot of poise out there, he has a high hockey IQ. He's an excellent skater... his transition game, his ability to get the puck, skate it up ice, and move it to our forwards is excellent.

"We're excited to get this deal done."

Vancouver has several other pending free agents they'll have to either lock up or let go of this summer, including recent additions Derek Dorsett and Shawn Matthias, plus Brad Richardson and restricted free agents Linden Vey, Ronalds Kenins, Luca Sbisa, Yannick Weber, Frank Corrado, Jacob Markstrom, and others.

( See Vancouver's complete cap and contract situation via HockeyBuzz.com )

**********

BC Lions sign ex NFL receiver Hawkins

That other team, Vancouver's BC Lions, announced their own signing on Tuesday - the CFL team has inked ex-NFL receiver Lavelle Hawkins .

Terms of the deal - its money and its length - were not released.

Hawkins, 28, has played mainly for Tennessee, drafted by the Titans in the fourth round in 2008. He had 71 catches for 771 yards and one touchdown, in five seasons in Nashville. Only only appeared in a full 16-game slate once, in 2011, totalling 47 catches for 470 yards.

He also played for the San Diego Chargers in 2013, and has spent time on the books of New England, San Francisco, and Tampa Bay.

"Lavelle is an elusive and talented receiver who brings significant experience to our team," said the Lions' new coach, Jeff Tedford, who coached Hawkins with the University of California's Golden Bears.

Hawkins, who's from Stockton, California, played on the same Cal team as current NFL stars DeSean Jackson and Justin Forsett.

"He's a gifted route-runner who will be able to take advantage of our larger field and I look forward to seeing how he will contribute to our offence," added Tedford, in a statement posted to the Lions' website.

VIDEO: Chris Tanev Highlights, compiled by Canucks TV

Copyright 2015 BC Local News

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Lions sign former NFL WR Hawkins - Article - TSN

www.tsn.ca - Thu Mar 26 2015
Byline:TSN.ca Staff

Jeff Tedford is bringing in one of his former players, and one with NFL experience to boot. The BC Lions announced the signing of international receiver Lavelle Hawkins Tuesday. After playing for Tedford collegiately at California, Hawkins spent five seasons with the Tennessee Titans, recording 71 receptions for 771 yards and a touchdown.  “Lavelle is an elusive and talented receiver who brings significant experience to our team,” Tedford said in a team release. “He’s a gifted route-runner who will be able to take advantage of our larger field and I look forward to seeing how he will contribute to our offence.”

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Community comes together to welcome BC Lions and performers

Coast Mountain News - Thu Mar 26 2015 Page: 1

It was a pretty great weekend to be in Bella Coola. Five very special and inspiring guests spent three days in the community relaying a positive message and having fun with the youth.

BC Lions players JR LaRose, Rolly Lumbala, and Will Loftus arrived in Bella Coola on Thursday afternoon and the three CFL stars spent the following day delivering workshops to youth at both SAMS and Acwsalcta Schools. The talks focused around ending violence, reaching your potential, and being the best person you can be.

LaRose is passionate about many things and carries within him an infectious energy and delivers his story with raw honesty. He credits his successes to his own choices, and takes full responsibility for his own actions.

"It's up to you, it's about the choices you make," LaRose told the students. "I had a dream, I know you do too, and it's totally possible to make that dream come true."

Staff and students were thrilled with the visit, commenting on how relatable and inspiring the three players were. "They spoke about making the right choices, not just wanting but also working, having a dream, and stepping over that line to dare to be great," said SAMS Principal Jeremy Baillie. "It was an incredible message from JR Larose, Rolly Lumbala and Will Loftus."

The fun continued with a Cultural Night at Nuxalk Hall featuring the younger Nuxalk Singers and Dancers, and a Fun Ball tournament in memory of Renee Tallio the following afternoon that left everyone laughing and having a great time.

Not only did the teams have to play a very interesting version of basketball; they also had to partake in a whole lot of funny antics in between that kept the whole crowd engaged and involved the entire day.

That evening the community gathered at Lobelco Hall for an evening of speeches, music, and a whole lot of laughter.

"I came here thinking I was going to give you guys a message but it turned it was the other way around," said Lumbala. "Everyone here has been so welcoming, and to see your culture was amazing and beautiful. It's been such an experience to visit Bella Coola and I can't wait to come back."

Award-winning Cree country artist Shane Yellowbird was on hand to share his story, a first for the artist, who freely admitted that speaking in front of a crowd is terrifying for him.

Having grown up with a debilitating stutter, Yellowbird's speech therapist encouraged him to sing past it, and that's what got him into music.

"I can sing in front of thousands of people but speaking is very hard for me," Yellowbird shared with the crowd. "I was a shy kid, I was bullied because of my speech impediment and I really never thought I would be on stage because of it, but here I am."

The evening closed with a special performance by Inez Jasper. A member of the Sto:lo First Nation, Jasper is an award-winning artist, registered nurse, motivational speaker and mother of two. She has already made a presence in the community in the past few months, coming in as a youth worker and assisting the community in dealing with recent losses.

"We're not only surviving but we are thriving, and we're coming together all across Turtle Island," Jasper told the crowd. "It's time for us to stand up and be proud of who we are as First Nations people."

An event like this doesn't happen without the support of a huge number of community agencies and individuals. There are dozens of people to acknowledge, but some who stood out are Melinda Mack, the Nuxalk Nation Transition House, Vancouver Coastal Health (Carole Clark), Nuxalk Nation Chief and Council, Nuxalk Forestry Limited, the Bella Coola Music Festival, and Nuxalk Health and Wellness. Thanks again to everyone who made this possible by supporting our fundraising initiatives through donations of baked goods and items: the effort was much appreciated.

Copyright 2015 Coast Mountain News

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THE NATIONAL CFL COMBINE PRESENTED BY REEBOK KICKS OFF TODAY PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jamie Dykstra   
Friday, 27 March 2015 19:52

TORONTO -- The 2015 National CFL Combine presented by Reebok kicks off today in Toronto at the Park Hyatt Hotel with player arrivals, medicals and team interviews.

50 of Canada's top football prospects will make the trip to Toronto to put their skills to the test in front of scouts, coaches and general managers from all nine CFL teams.

Click here to view the entire National CFL Combine roster.

The majority of the testing and evaluating will take place over the weekend.

On Saturday the players' strength, athleticism and flexibility will be tested at the Park Hyatt Toronto Hotel. The combine finishes on the football field at Varsity Centre bubble at the University of Toronto on Sunday.

Please click here to download the National CFL Combine Media Guide.

Here is the schedule of events for the weekend:

Friday, March 27 to Sunday, March 29 - National CFL Combine presented by Reebok

Varsity Centre & Park Hyatt Hotel in Toronto

Friday, March 27

Player arrivals and medicals. No media interviews, unless pre-arranged through the CFL's communications department.

Saturday, March 28Park Hyatt Hotel (Queen's Park Room)

9:00 a.m.                   Bench press

9:00 a.m. - OL

9:15 a.m. - DL

9:45 a.m. - QB/RB

10:00 a.m. - LB

10:30 a.m. - REC

10:45 a.m. - DB

1:30 p.m.                   Video shot, vertical jump and broad jump

1:30 p.m. - OL/DL

2:30 p.m. - QB/RB/LB

3:30 p.m. - REC/DB

Players can be made available to media after the morning session of testing and/or the afternoon session of testing.

Sunday, March 29

Varsity Centre Bubble

8:10 a.m.        OL & DL: 40-yard Dash, Short Shuttle, 3-Cone, Individual & 1-on-1 Drills

9:40 a.m.        Long Snappers workout

10:00 a.m.     RB, LB, QB: 40-yard Dash, Short Shuttle, 3-Cone, Individual & 1-on-1 Drills

12:10 p.m.     REC & DB: 40-yard Dash, Short Shuttle, 3-Cone, Individual & 1-on-1 Drills

2:30 p.m.        Combine Completed

Players will be made available by request after the completion of all testing.

 
CFL Rules Committee proposes significant changes for 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jamie Dykstra   
Friday, 27 March 2015 02:47

CFL Rules Committee proposes significant changes for 2015

TORONTO -- The convert would be less automatic, receivers would have more space, and the game would speed up.

Those are the projected outcomes if rules changes proposed today by the Canadian Football League's Rules Committee are approved later this Spring by its Board of Governors.

"We have sought to be innovative while protecting the integrity of the game with a focus on player safety," said Glen Johnson, the CFL's Vice-President of Officiating and its representative on the Rules Committee.

"We believe we are recommending to our Board of Governors responsible ways to improve the tempo and flow of the game, reduce the number of stoppages including penalties, increase opportunities for scoring and excitement, and simplify our rules."

The Rules Committee is recommending modifying the convert that follows a touchdown.

A kick for a single point, which now comes from the 12-yard line, would come instead from the 32-yard line.

Last year, 99.4 per cent of kicks for a single point following a touchdown were successful. For field goal attempts from between 31 and 33 yards, 81 per cent were successful.

In fact, there have only been 24 converts missed in 15 seasons, a frequency of just once in every 232 attempts or 47 games.

Under the proposal, a kicked convert that is wide would remain live and can be run back for a two-point score.

If a team opts to run or pass the ball into the end zone for a two point convert following a touchdown, the ball would be scrimmaged from the three-yard line, instead of the current five-yard line, which may entice more coaches to "go for two".

Last year, there were only 23 two-point convert attempts, and seven, or 30 per cent, were successful.

The Governors also have the option of choosing to test a more radical approach during pre-season games: a convert worth three points when a team chooses to run or pass the ball over the goal line from the ten-yard-line.

To open up the passing game, the Rules Committee is suggesting a change designed to create more room for the offence.

It would allow a defensive player to contact a receiver that is in front of him within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but would not allow either player to create or initiate contact that impedes or redirects an opponent beyond five yards.

The Rules Committee recommends that on a punt play, when the ball bounces on the ground and a five yard no yards penalty is called, the penalty will automatically be added to the end of the return, or from the point the ball was first touched by the return team, whichever is better.

Currently, the receiving team has to choose between the five-yard penalty or the yards gained on the return.

It is believed that making the penalty more punitive may reduce the number of no yards penalties.

To increase the tempo of the game, the Rules Committee suggests that at any time in the game the offence be allowed to signal to the Referee that it doesn't want to substitute and it wants to use a tempo offence.

The officials would then blow the play in immediately upon the ball and yardsticks being set for play.

This new protocol will be combined with a rule change made last year - which meant the offence no longer had to wait for the defense to substitute before initiating a play if the offence had not substituted.

Together, the changes create an opportunity for the offence to dictate the pace of the game.

On punts, the Rules Committee recommends prohibiting the five interior linemen on the kicking team from leaving the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.

This should reduce the number of illegal blocking and perhaps no yards penalties, while increasing the amount of room the receiving team has to set up a return.

There would be a ten-yard penalty for violating this proposed new rule.

Also to improve game flow, the Rules Committee wants to remove the ability of a coach to request a measurement, leaving it to the Referee to measure when he is unsure if a first down has been made or not.

The Rules Committee recommends maintaining the ability for a coach to challenge Defensive Pass Interference, an innovation introduced last year. But it goes one step further this year, suggesting that Offensive Pass Interference also be made subject to video review.

It also recommends no longer giving the receiving team the option of demanding that a team kick again after one of its kick offs goes out of bounds. The receiving team will either take the ball where it went out of bounds, or at a point 30 yards in advance of where the ball was kicked off, whichever is better.

"Our governors are charged with the special responsibility of ensuring our product is fast and exciting for our fans and we treat our great game and players with the utmost respect," Johnson said.

"The changes we're putting forward for their consideration represent our best advice in meeting these objectives."

The Rules Committee includes several CFL coaches and general managers as well as representatives of the CFL, CFL Players' Association and CFL Officials.

All of its recommendations are subject to review and approval by the CFL's Board of Governors.

 
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