Red-hot players proving no flukes

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

A third of the season is in the books, so CFLers stumbling to slow starts can be considered as having off-years, and hot players are proving their play is no fluke.

Take Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Romby Bryant, for instance. He followed up 298 yards over two games by torching the Toronto Argonauts for an 85-yard touchdown Friday.

The Bombers offence produced three 1,000-yard receivers last season, so Bryant has a chance to keep this going even with a new QB. The rookie is on pace for more than 1,700 yards.

In Hamilton, there are just a few bright spots.

Tiger-Cats running back Jesse Lumsden would easily challenge for the rushing title if he could stay on the field enough. He has played just over four games, which puts him on pace for a career-high 12.75 games played.

The other intriguing player with the Ticats is former basketball player Prechae Rodriguez. In only three games, P-Rod has 285 yards, most of which have come on deep passes, and he could cruise past the 1,000-yard barrier despite missing the first three outings.

Roughriders running back Wes Cates has become Mr. All-Purpose and is projected to reach nearly 1,900 rushing yards if he keeps this up. The former Stampeders back is also on pace to shatter Milt Stegall's single-season touchdown record of 23.

In a further sign offence is up, both Ricky Ray and Henry Burris are cruising to career-highs in passing yards, while Alouettes veteran Anthony Calvillo is having a great comeback season and should reach numbers of a few years ago.

There are 13 receivers on pace for more than 1,000 yards, compared with 11 last season, while the expected number of 1,000-yard rushers is up from three to four.

A more interesting trend early this season are those in slumps.

Stampeders receiver Jeremaine Copeland is on pace for just 711 yards, which would be his lowest total since joining the Alouettes full-time in 2003.

Blue Bombers running back Charles Roberts is in danger of losing his job -- for good reason. Blink is averaging only 4.1 yards per carry and is on pace for 789 for the season, which is about half his usual output.

And Ticats quarterback Casey Printers, who was the 2004 CFL most outstanding player, has yet to throw a TD pass in five games, and that projects to be zero for the season.

Opening drive

Although the Ticats still don't have a TD pass, they did get into the endzone on a two-point conversion against the Alouettes. Maybe they're just working towards it slowly ... The Argonauts picked up win No. 100 in Skydome/Rogers Centre this past weekend by beating the Bombers ... How important is the entire body of Ricky Ray to the Eskimos success? The Esks are 1-3 when Ray doesn't record a rushing attempt ... Stamps LB JoJuan Armour was booted out so early against the Roughriders that TSN had its starting lineup wrong during the broadcast. The CFL admitted it was a mistake to toss Armour out for his collision with a ref, but the ejection hurt the Stamps, who allowed 175 rushing yards to Saskatchewan. The Stamps defence had averaged 65 yards rushing allowed in previous games. Good work by TSN sideline reporter Heath Brown to get an interview with a steamed Armour, who was then sent home to cool off.

ENDZONE TOSS

In hindsight (although it was correctly predicted on this page), the Lions had no chance in Edmonton with Jason Tucker making a pre-game visit to the Eskimos locker-room Thursday night a week after breaking his neck. Tucker could get player-of-the-week honours because the Eskimos receivers played with such emotion they easily came back from a 14-point deficit ... The Als got S Etienne Boulay back from the NFL at a good time with Matthew Proulx injured and Pascal Masson released. Masson was ousted a week before his name was announced as the Montreal spokesperson for the Making the Connection promotion.

EXTRA POINTS

The Milt Stegall watch is underway again. The Bombers slotback needs 158 yards to pass Allen Pitts for most receiving yards all-time (14,891). Stegall needs four games to do it quicker than Pitts ... Eskimos SB Kamau Peterson needs 32 yards to pass 5,000 for his career, while Stampeders SB Nik Lewis passed that mark last week. Lewis is three years younger than Peterson and has a chance at topping what will be Stegall's record for yards. Lewis would have to play consistently until he's 35 to do it.

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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