Making import-ant moves

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos finally jumped on board with a league-wide trend, and — lo and behold — they have their first victory.

That’s not to say that right tackle Jeremy Parquet gets all the credit for the win, but it certainly didn’t hurt that the Eskimos have joined four other teams in changing the ratio to protect the team’s greatest asset — the quarterback.

There are no records for these kinds of things, but more CFL teams than ever are employing two imports along their offensive line, with most of those playing tackle.

Four teams — the Calgary Stampeders, the B.C. Lions, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Saskatchewan Roughriders — started the season with two imports. The Argos added a second one due to right tackle Chris Van Zeyl’s injury, and the Eskimos joined this past weekend by inserting Parquet for Joe McGrath.

The Riders went back to one import, Dan Goodspeed due to an injury, so that makes the count at five teams right now.

Up until last week, there were two teams — the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Montreal Alouettes — with all-Canadian offensive lines, but the Tiger-Cats tried to improve their protection by adding import Belton Johnson to right tackle and moving Canadian lineman Simeon Rottier inside.

With so many imports playing offensive line, there are Canadian starters at other positions, and the most populated non-import position is receiver.

Hopefully, this isn’t just a trend, because the Canadian line talent isn’t good enough. Hopefully, this is just a blip and strong homegrown Canadian tackles emerge over the next couple of years.

Opening drive

Ticats WR Arland Bruce made a declaration a week ago that he could light things up given the chance. Then, he went out and had 16 receptions for 272 yards and two touchdowns against the Riders. He tied the CFL record for receptions in a game with Terry Greer, Brian Wiggins and Derrell Mitchell. The best part about the record night was he was fighting for yards late when it was clear the Ticats would lose. “They just got to give me the ball,” Bruce said last week. “When

I first got here, it was a point of emphasis to give me the rock and get me involved more.

I put a lot of pressure on myself, and I want to be that guy.” Mission accomplished ……What a difference being healthy has made to Stamps WR Nik Lewis. Last year, there is no way the rugged slotback could make that acrobatic leap-frog, like he did over Bombers S Brady Browne. The seven-year vet is off to a great start without the knee injury that slowed him in ’09.

Endzone toss

Hard to believe, but the Esks players gave coach Richie Hall a Gatorade bath following the win over the Lions. They do know they just improved to 1-4, right? Wins used to be like garbage-man visits in Edmonton — they came once a week … TSN has taken to interviewing players at halftime as often as they hit up coaches. What does this say? Most CFL coaches are bland and offer nothing in terms of insight … No matter what you may think of DE Adam Braidwood, you have to be impressed with the comeback the Esks lineman made. His last game before Friday was Oct. 26, 2007 … It was a week of comebacks as Stamps WR Ken-Yon Rambo returned from a year away to tally six catches for 86 yards and a TD in Saturday’s win.

Extra points

Kudos to Ticats WR Dave Stala for the most interesting, athletic, spur-of-the-moment TD celebration in recent memory … Over the past three weeks, amounting to 12 tilts, the road team has won just once — the Als in B.C. July 16 … …Now that K Paul McCallum has missed after a long strong of successful field-goals, the Stamps again have the best leg-man in terms of percentage. Rookie K Rob Maver has hit on 13-of-14 attempts, including two 45-yarders last week. He was lucky on one kick officials called good that looked to have gone wide.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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