Big Shoes To Fill
TORONTO – The Saskatchewan Roughriders have announced that they have agreed to terms on a contract with DL Ricky Foley. In an off-season already highlighted by the additions of DB Dwight Anderson, DB Carlos Thomas, DB Weldon Brown, and LB Tristan Black, the Riders add additional depth to their defensive line with the acquisition of Foley. Riders’ GM, Brendan Taman, has focused his off-season efforts on the defensive side of the football, an area that he has worked tirelessly to improve following the conclusion of the 2012 season.
After struggling to adjust to Chris Jones’ defensive system in Toronto, Foley concluded the 2012 regular season with 41 total tackles and three sacks en route to being named Most Outstanding Canadian in the Argonauts’ historic 100th Grey Cup victory. Over the course of his three-year stint in Toronto, Foley amassed 132 total tackles, ten sacks, one interception, and three fumble recoveries. Foley hopes to assume an increased role with the Riders’ in 2013 and regain his pass-rushing niche that made him a coveted commodity in B.C. The Roughriders recorded just 34 sacks last season, ranking third last in the Canadian Football League.
The Riders’ added depth on the offensive side of the football earlier this off-season with the acquisition of WR Geroy Simon via trade from the B.C. Lions. The influx of activity from GM Brendan Taman indicates a team that is preparing to make a run at the 101 Grey Cup, which will be hosted at Mosaic Stadium in November.
The B.C. Lions’ captured the Grey Cup on their home turf in 2011 and the Argonauts’ achieved the same feat in 2012. The Riders will look to make it a third consecutive year in which the host city of the Grey Cup will also hoist the historic trophy on its own home turf.
The Argonauts’ defence will sport a much different look in 2013 following the departures of many key veteran players such as Foley, Ahmad Carroll, Ejiro Kuale, Ronald Flemons, and Evan McCollough. The Argonauts’ secondary constitutes of six defensive backs along with S Jordan Younger. Johnnie Dixon offers the most CFL experience in the secondary as he has spent the past three seasons split between the Toronto Argonauts and Calgary Stampeders. Pat Watkins, Pacino Horne, and Jalil Carter will be entering their sophomore seasons in the Canadian Football League while Jason Teague and Bryant Nnabuife will be rookies in 2013.
In the trenches, Kevin Huntley boasts the most experience of all Argonauts’ defensive lineman. Huntley is entering his fifth season in the Canadian Football League and will certainly be leaned upon for leadership and productivity on the defensive line.
After being released by the Argonauts at the beginning of the off-season, LB Ejiro Kuale announced that he has signed a three-year contract with the Montreal Alouettes. Kuale spent three seasons in Toronto from 2010-2012 where he recorded 100 total tackles and one fumble recovery.
While the off-season does not account for wins and losses, it is a time in which a team’s talent level can improve or diminish. It is evident that the Argonauts’ defence has undergone significant change during the off-season but GM Jim Barker remains confident that he has established a roster that is capable of being a perennial Grey Cup contender year in and year out.
The Argonauts still boast a potent offence with the likes of reigning CFL Most Outstanding Player, Chad Owens, and future Hall of Fame quarterback, Ricky Ray.
However, questions definitely remain on the defensive side of the football where the Boatmen are slated to have four rookies competing for starting jobs in the secondary and on the defensive line.
It appears that it will not be a question of if the Argonauts’ can produce enough points offensively, but rather if they will have the necessary experience and talent on the defensive end in order to prevent opposing teams from putting the ball into the end zone in 2013.
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