West Division

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

B.C. LIONS

LAST YEAR: 13-5 (won Grey Cup)

COACH: Wally Buono (fourth year)

KEY RETURNEES: QB Dave Dickenson, WR Geroy Simon, WR Jason Clermont, WR Paris Jackson, RB Joe Smith, OL Rob Murphy, QB Buck Pierce, DL Brent Johnson, S Barron Miles, LB Javy Glatt, LB Otis Floyd, DB Korey Banks, DL Aaron Hunt, DL Tyrone Williams, DB Ryan Phillips, DB Mark Washington, K Paul MacCallum

KEY DEPARTURES: WR Ryan thelwell (free agent, Calgary), OL Bobby Singh (free agent, Calgary), LB Carl Kidd (retired), DL Chris Wilson (NFL), DL Nautyn McKay-Loescher (free agent, Hamilton),SB Bret Anderson (retired)

KEY NEWCOMERS: DB Tad Crawford (draft), WR Ladaris Vann (free agent)

STRENGTH: The defending Grey Cup champions have the deepest roster by far, plus the best one-two tandem at quarterback in Dave Dickenson and Buck Pierce. Their explosive offence can put up points quickly.

WEAKNESS: Special teams is the only area where B.C. isn't the class of the league. Kicker Paul MacCallum is near the end of his career and the returners are nothing special when compared withthe rest of the division.

PREDICTION: Once again, the rest of the league will be chasing the Lions, who are in a class of their own.

CALGARY STAMPEDERS

LAST YEAR: 10-8 (lost West semifinal to Saskatchewan)

COACH: Tom Higgins (third season)

KEY RETURNEES: QB Henry Burris, WR Jeremaine Copeland, WR Nik Lewis, RB Joffrey Reynolds, K Sandro DeAngelis, LB Scott Coe, PR Markus Howell, WR Ken-Yon Rambo, OL Jay McNeil, OL Jeff Pilon, LB Brian Clark, LB Shannon James

KEY DEPARTURES: DE Rahim Abdullah (free agent, Edmonton), DE Demetrious Maxie (retired), NT Sheldon Napastuk (retired), LB John Grace (released, signed with Montreal), OL Alex Gauthier (trade, Winnipeg), OL Taylor Robertson (trade, Toronto), CB Coby Rhinehart (trade, Montreal)

KEY NEWCOMERS: WR Marc Boerigter (NFL free agent), WR Ryan Thelwell (free agent, B.C.), OL Bobby Singh (free agent, B.C.), OL Garrick Jones (trade, Winnipeg), QB Akili Smith (NFL free agent), RB Jon Cornish (draft), FB Gerald Commissiong (draft), OL Rob Lazeo (trade, Saskatchewan)

STRENGTH: With numerous weapons on offence, scoring won't be a problem.

WEAKNESS: The entire starting defensive line is new and they could struggle getting pressure on the quarterback in the three-four defence.

PREDICTION: The Stamps remain near elite status and will challenge for the division lead. Second in West.

SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS

LAST YEAR: 9-9 (Lost West final to B.C.)

COACH: Kent Austin (First season)

KEY RETURNEES: QB Kerry Joseph, WR Matt Dominguez, WR Jason Armstead, RB Shermar Bracey, OL Gene Makowsky, WR Andy Fantuz, WR Yo Murphy, C Jeremy O 'Day, QB Marcus Crandell, DL Scott Schultz, DL Fred Perry, LB Reggie Hunt

KEY DEPARTURES: RB Kenton Keith (NFL, Indianapolis), DB Omarr Morgan (free agent, Edmonton), DB Davin Bush (free agent, Winnipeg), DL Nate Davis (released, signed by Winnipeg), OL Andrew Greene (released, signed by Winnipeg), QB Rocky Butler (trade, Hamilton)

KEY NEWCOMERS: WR D.J.Flick (trade, Hamilton), WR Thyron Anderson (trade, Montreal), RB Henri Childs (trade, Montreal), OL Chris Best (draft), OL Wayne Smith (trade, Hamilton), OL Jermese Jones (trade,Winnipeg), Wes Cates (trade, Calgary)

STRENGTH: The defence took a hit because of the salary cap but is still led by defensive back Eddie Davis and lineman Fred Perry.

WEAKNESS: The acquisition of Flick gives the Roughriders a formidable receiving corps. But just who will throw them the ball?

PREDICTION: This average bunch doesn 't have enough talent to compete for a home playoff date. Third in West.

EDMONTON ESKIMOS

LAST YEAR: 7-11 (missed playoffs)

COACH: Danny Maciocia (third season)

KEY RETURNEES: QB Ricky Ray,WR Jason Tucker, DE Adam Braidwood, DT Robert Brown, LB A.J.Gass (injured, out a month), OT Joe McGrath, WR Derrell Mitchell, RB Ron McClendon, OG Dan Comiskey, WR Trevor Gaylor

KEY DEPARTURES: RB Troy Davis (released), DB Kelly Wiltshire (retired), DB Malcolm Frank (retired), LB Singor Mobley (retired), WR Ed Hervey (retired), QB Jason Johnson (retired), DL Steve Charbonneau (released, signed with Montreal), LB Gerald Dixon (released)

KEY NEWCOMERS: DL Ron Warner (trade, Winnipeg), OL Kevin Lefsrud (ended retirement), DL Rahim Abdullah (free agent, Calgary), K Warren Kean (draft), DB Omarr Morgan (free agent, Saskatchewan)

STRENGTH: Because they have Ricky Ray under centre, the Esks will have a chance in every game.

WEAKNESS: Far too many changes on the defensive side of the ball may put the team in a few shootouts.

PREDICTION: After ending a 34-year playoff run last year, the Eskimos will struggle again to find the postseason. Fourth in West.


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