CFL Blitz: Long-term injury lists exhaustive

Drew Tate of the Stampeders is helped off the field in the first half of action between the Toronto...

Drew Tate of the Stampeders is helped off the field in the first half of action between the Toronto Argos and Calgary Stampeders at the Rogers Centre earlier this season. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:35 PM ET

The CFL will add another team in a couple of years, and there has already been some debate as to whether the talent exists for ninth franchise.

If games were played on paper (and how boring would that be?), there would be enough talent to stock an expansion club just by taking players from the existing long-term injured lists.

At this point in the CFL season, depth is being tested due to season-ending ailments to key players across the board.

About the only team that hasn't been hit by a massive injury bug is the B.C. Lions, who have just two players on their nine-game list, which explains why the defending champs also have the CFL's best record.

So in compiling our team of injured players -- we will call them the Broken Downsies -- we've managed to even stick to the import ratio and provide enough players at every position.

With Drew Tate (Calgary, shoulder) at the helm, we feel comfortable that the offence will be able to put points on the board. Our quarterback has mobility and accuracy to avoid giving up sacks and committing turnovers.

The receiving corps, led by Adarius Bowman (Edmonton, knee) won't exactly scare anybody, but we make up for a deep passing game with a dual threat at the running-back position.

Both Brandon Whitaker (Montreal, knee) and Chris Garrett (Winnipeg, Achilles) can catch the ball out of the backfield and they will do battle for carries.

At least we have a playmaker on special teams that will certainly scare some opposition coverage guys. Larry Taylor is dangerous whenever he touches the ball, and we will do our best to utilize him in the offence as well as on returns.

Our defence should be solid, although we don't have a true middle linebacker who will be a tackling machine or big-play threat similar to Edmonton's J.C. Sherritt or B.C.'s Adam Bighill.

The Stampeders provide us with some talent on the defensive line, lending us starters in Dorian Smith (calf) and Chris McCoy (knee), while Justin Phillips (knee) is one of our special-teams coverage aces.

Our defensive MVP will likely be Abraham Kromah (Saskatchewan, knee). At the wide-side linebacker spot, he should lead the team in tackles.

We did some juggling with Markeith Knowlton (Hamilton, ankle) as the coverage linebacker, so that means Demetrice Morley (Calgary, shoulder) gets moved back to safety. Morley can pick off eight-to-10 passes during the season while also being a force with big hits.

Because we have no veteran backup, we've stocked the roster with young quarterbacks with potential.

We will just hope that our offensive line -- anchored by two import tackles -- can keep Tate from feeling the rush too much.

There is no doubt this team could compete in today's CFL.

The biggest thing will be staying healthy. That's probably not likely with a group made up from an injured list.

GREY CUP FIRST?

The 100th Grey Cup could actually feature a first in CFL history.

If the playoffs started today, there would be a West Division crossover, opening the possibility of championship game featuring two teams west of Manitoba.

It's still a long-shot, but with Toronto as the host city, how strange would a B.C. vs. Saskatchewan matchup be in the Grey Cup game? Or how about Calgary against Edmonton?

"It would be awkward for fans, but what we're talking about is the 100th Grey Cup," CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said. "It doesn't matter who is in it.

"It's part of putting the best product on the field. We still have a number of games to play before it happens.

"In my time, I've seen two crossover games. We've never seen a West team get all the way through. It's hard to do. You still need to beat the best in the East."

Going on the road and winning two playoff games just to reach the Grey Cup is tough to do. In fact, nobody has done it within their own division since 2005, when the Edmonton Eskimos had a miraculous run.

The Eskimos' road roll was the only one since 2000, when the B.C. Lions were the first sub .500 team to win the Grey Cup.

So it can happen, especially in a league where parity is the norm. Some call it parity, others might call it mediocrity.

Through 12 games played, four different teams have lived through streaks of four losses or more, while two teams have had five-game runs.

The Eskimos, who are trying to avoid going winless in September for the first time in their history, can become the third with a five-game losing streak if they get beat in Calgary on Friday.

Both the Riders and Tiger-Cats have had five-game losing streaks, while the Blue Bombers have a pair of four-game skids.

Despite the Eskimos' and Riders' losing streaks, they are still in control of their playoff fates but are trying to avoid being the one going East for the post-season.

GESTURE GETS MITCHELL TWO GAMES

No matter how many strange explanations Khalif Mitchell comes up with, Mark Cohon isn't buying them.

The B.C. Lions defensive tackle should have known all eyes would be on him in Edmonton on Saturday, when he faced the Eskimos for the first time since an arm-bar incident in Week 4.

However, Mitchell decided to do an arm gesture, moving his hand across the front of his body "¦ three times!

He said it was the symbol of a cross, which made a tiny bit of sense because his hand went from his head down before going across his body.

Cohon obviously didn't like that explanation. Mitchell, who was suspended two games for his actions against Eskimos offensive lineman Simeon Rottier, was fined Tuesday for what the CFL deemed to be a 'throat-slash' gesture.

Cohon is playing the role of a stern father for the league this week, as he also slapped a fine on Stampeders running back Jon Cornish for a mooning incident in Regina that was explained as an equipment malfunction.

The kids better start listening to papa commish, or it will cost them.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby

 


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