Holmes goin' away?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

Regardless of what happens with Saskatchewan Roughrider general manager Roy Shivers and his coaching staff, it will be a rather anxious off-season in Regina.

Corey Holmes -- the Riders' most outstanding player -- is entering the option year of his contract, meaning he can test the NFL waters during the winter.

An NFL team with any sort of need for a kickoff return specialist would be crazy not to take a close look at Holmes.

Extremely durable, Holmes had the highest punt return average (15.2 yards) and second-highest kickoff return average (26.9 yards) of any regular returner in the league this year.

Some will question whether he has enough speed for the American game, but consider this: David Allen left the Calgary Stampeders this fall -- with much worse numbers than Holmes -- and performed just fine for the St. Louis Rams this month.

Allen averaged just 7.3 yards returning punts and 18.5 yards returning kicks with the Stamps.

However, he has been an instant success in St. Louis, averaging nearly 20 yards from punts.

Headache No. 2: Holmes isn't the only key member of the Riders that could leave during the off-season.

Elijah Thurmon, the club's only receiving threat, is a free agent.

Consider this: Thurmon had 1,048 receiving yards -- about 400 yards more than anyone else on the team -- and seven touchdowns this season.

The rest of the regular receiving crew had nine touchdowns.

TWO BECOME ONE

Brilliant move by the CFL to join forces with the CIS to stage the 2007 Grey Cup and Vanier Cup on the same weekend in Toronto.

It marks the first time ever the two championship events will be held within two days in the same city.

With hordes of media members in the city to cover the Grey Cup, the Vanier Cup will suddenly get more attention instead of being buried in most papers.

But more importantly for the CFL, this move of marrying the two games is just good PR. The league looks like a helpful richer cousin instead of being a bully.

MARITIME MOVES

League expansion to the Maritimes could move one step closer to being reality on Dec. 15 if Halifax is named Canada's bid city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. If Halifax gets the nod over Hamilton, Ottawa and the York region, it will advance to the international bidding process, which concludes in 2007. The CFL is watching this situation very closely because a major stadium will be built in Halifax if the Commonwealth Games arrive -- and a legitimate stadium is the only major hurdle keeping the CFL out of the Maritimes.

EXTRA POINTS: The rumour of the week: Disgruntled B.C. Lions quarterback Casey Printers moving to Winnipeg if Steve Burratto leaves Calgary to coach the Bombers ... According to one report, fired Ottawa Renegades coach Joe Paopao has already been guaranteed a job in one CFL organization if he doesn't land a head coaching post somewhere during the off-season ... Giulio Caravatta -- the radio colour commentator on Lions' broadcasts -- had a rather quiet playing career as a backup punter and quarterback in Vancouver. But he does have one interesting claim to fame: he was ahead of Trent Green on the QB depth chart with the Lions. Although it sounds crazy, Green -- now a legitimate NFL pivot with the K.C. Chiefs -- couldn't crack the Lions' roster at one point. Instead he was stuck on the practice squad.

HIT & MISS

HIT

Montreal backup running back Eric Lapointe comes off the bench to score three touchdowns in the Eastern final.

MISS

Montreal running back Robert Edwards was ineffective last week and is now injured heading into Grey Cup week.

HIT

Damon Allen, the appointed league's most outstanding player, turns the ball over three times.

NUMBERS GAME

14 -- Toronto led by two touchdowns in the first half of the Eastern final yesterday.

6 -- Number of turnovers by the Toronto Argonauts yesterday.

29 -- Rushing yards by Argo Jeff Johnson -- a non-factor.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

"I'm not going to back down ... It's not like I'm a total freakin' idiot."

-- Bombers GM Brendan Taman hits back at criticism of his recruiting skills.

"If (Shivers and Barrett) aren't here, I don't want to be here."

-- Riders DB Omarr Morgan on his future in Saskatchewan.

"You never want to end your career like this."

-- Argo QB Damon Allen isn't ready to announce his retirement yet.

GAME OF THE WEEK

ESKS VS. ALOUETTES

GREY CUP: EDMONTON ESKIMOS VS. MONTREAL ALOUETTES

B.C. Place, Sunday, November 27, 4 p.m., CBC

Danny Maciocia not only makes it to the Grey Cup as the Eskimos' rookie head coach, he gets to take on his hometown team. But while much of the pre-game hype will revolve around Maciocia, there's also a quarterback controversy to resolve. Who should start -- Jason Maas or Ricky Ray?


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