Heat's on high

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:23 AM ET

Starting out the CFL season with three straight losses doesn't bode well for long-term success.

However, it doesn't spell the end of a campaign.

Either the Winnipeg Blue Bombers or B.C. Lions will be 0-3 after this weekend -- unless they tie, of course -- so one of the pre-season favourites to compete for the Grey Cup will have an uphill battle heading into Week 4.

But starting out slowly and rebounding to win the championship isn't unheard of, just rare.

The last Cup winner to start this slow was the 2001 Calgary Stampeders, who went 0-3 and then to 1-4 before turning it around, finishing 8-10-0-1 and making a miraculous run to knock off those Blue Bombers.

This doesn't look good for the Bombers, though. Of the 21 times the team has started 0-2, they only made the playoffs four of those years and never advanced to the Cup.

With the Bombers and Lions both at 0-2, prognosticators are having a tough time to start the season. We at CFL Blitz are 2-6 in our predictions, and it only gets tougher.

Coincidentally, the Stamps won that Grey Cup in Montreal -- the same place this year's championship will be handed out.

OPENING DRIVE

The Lions were back on the practice field yesterday, a day after the passing of president/CEO Bob Ackles.

"As Bob would have wanted, we will continue to do our best both on the field and off," said Lions owner David Braley in a statement. Tributes for Ackles keep coming in for the impression he left after 50 years in football ... Is this the dawning of the Age of a Darian? (Apologies to Regina's Rob Vanstone for stealing the line). The defending champion Roughriders are down to their third-string quarterback Darian Durant, who actually managed to move the offence once Marcus Crandell got hurt and Steven Jyles threw two interceptions. Durant is a curious QB in that he watched and learned for two seasons and only threw one pass before Friday. He should get the start against the Ticats with Crandell sidelined with a hamstring injury ... Eskimos WR Kevin Challenger went from having an action photo in Sports Illustrated last year with Boston College to playing special teams for a CFL club. But the Montreal native doesn't see it as going from the penthouse to the outhouse. "So far, it's the same recognition. We're in the papers all the time and get stuff on TSN," Challenger said. "At BC, we were in the big magazines and on ESPN. It's different, but it's mostly the same thing."

ENDZONE TOSS

The Roughriders are replacing a D.J. with a T.J. With a possible season-ending injury to D.J. Flick (broken ankle), the Riders made a deal to shore up their receiving corps yesterday. The Riders sent import DL Ronald Flemons, who they got from Toronto in the Kerry Joseph deal, back to the Argos in exchange for import WR T.J. Acree ... The Argos haven't gone 2-0 to start a season since Doug Flutie was the QB in 1997. The same goes for Calgary, which hasn't done it since Dave Dickenson was the starter in 2000 ... Eskimos WR Kelly Campbell is the lightest Eskimos player at 170 lb. He almost had a yard for every pound with his eight catches for 158 against the Stamps ... Three seasons ago, the Stamps couldn't find a spot for Kori Dickerson. Last year, the Ticats had the USC product as a tight end. This year, Dickerson is lining up at defensive end. It seems they are determined to get him in somewhere ... RB Damien Anderson has been in Edmonton less than a year and is already well-versed in history. "This is the Eskimos, and they expect the best," he said. "Just look at the lineage of champions. That's what we're going against every week. We're not just competing against the CFL, we compete against ourselves, the community, etc."

EXTRA POINTS

On the amazing late TD pass from Ricky Ray to Jason Tucker, the two Eskimos hit milestones. Tucker tied Tom Scott for second in all-time Eskimos TD receptions, while Ray passed Tom Wilkinson for third in career TD passes ... He hardly seems old enough, but Lions SB Jason Clermont played his 100th career game in the loss to the Riders ... The next milestone up for Als QB Anthony Calvillo is third spot on the all-time TD passes list. Calvillo has 291 and sits 15 behind Matt Dunigan. With the way Calvillo has started, he should overtake Dunigan by Aug. 1 ... The Ticats broke a 10-game road losing streak in beating Toronto, besting their Ontario rival for just the second time since 2002. The Ticats scored 41 points in three meetings with the Argos last year and almost topped that in one outing, winning 32-13 ... Winnipeg Blue Bombers SB Milt Stegall is set to return this week and begins the chase for Allen Pitts' all-time yardage record. Stegall is just 196 yards back of the Stampeders great.


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