CFL Blitz: Unhappy birthday for Durant

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant looks to make a pass while playing against the...

Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Darian Durant looks to make a pass while playing against the Edmonton Eskimos during first half CFL football game in Regina, Saskatchewan July 8, 2012. (Reuters/DAVID STOBBE)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:12 PM ET

The 30th birthday celebration didn't go as planned for Darian Durant.

No worries right? There should be better days ahead for the Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback.

At least recent history shows that normally a CFL quarterback doesn't usually have it all figured out when they turn 30.

That age is a turning point for running backs, but when it comes to elite players at quarterback and even receiver, the birthday means nothing.

Durant, who threw three interceptions in a fourth straight loss Sunday in Vancouver, is a good example, and his career is mirroring another pivot who used to wear Green and White.

When Henry Burris was entering his 30-year-old season, he had 9,656 career passing yards, 58 touchdown passes and 48 interceptions. Heading into this season, Durant had 14,679 yards, 74 TDs and 63 INTs. The numbers are comparable.

Just like Burris, Durant has heard plenty of talk about how he is a gunslinger who simply turns the ball over too much. Eventually, Burris improved his ball protection and won a Grey Cup, while moving into sixth spot on the all-time passing yards list.

During Anthony Calvillo's 30-year-old season, the Montreal Alouettes stalwart led his team to his first Grey Cup victory, just two years after losing a heartbreaker to the B.C. Lions.

While Durant is a little behind if he hopes to run down Calvillo's all-time numbers, there is another active quarterback who could take a shot at them.

When Ricky Ray turned 30, he had 27,454 passing yards, 153 TDs and 91 INTs. At the same age, Calvillo had 22,227 yards, 119 TDs and 90 INTs.

Ray is now sitting seventh on the all-time passing list, and with his move to Toronto, seems to be energized at age 32. On his current pace, it would take another eight seasons for Ray to finish where Calvillo is now.

If we're looking at players with chances to top all-time marks, then the receivers are intriguing.

Geroy Simon took over the receiving yardage mark from Milt Stegall at the start of this season, and the B.C. Lions slotback is still working on his all-time record.

When Simon entered his 30-year-old season, as Stampeders slotback Nik Lewis did this year, he had 5,404 yards. That season was his best one in the CFL as he had 1,856 yards and 15 TDs on 105 catches.

Entering this season, Lewis had 9,232 yards, and 2012 is probably his best season. If he keeps going as long as Simon or Stegall, there's a good chance he lands in the top three of all-time.

At age 30, Stegall only had 4,294 yards, so Lewis has a head start as he enters his 'prime.'

Extra points

Referee Andre Proulx has recovered from a mild heart attack on the field June 30 in Edmonton and he will work the Alouettes game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Thursday night "¦ That outing will feature Avon Cobourne returning to the Tiger-Cats lineup for the first time this season as Chevon Walker is out with a leg injury. Cobourne came back to the CFL when the Cats lost Martell Mallett to a season-ending Achilles injury, but Walker took the ball and ran with it to start the season. There was a good reason the Ticats kept Cobourne around. Rarely does a rookie running back make it through 18 games without something happening "¦ In the battle of former Alouettes return specialists, Chad Owens still has a win streak going against Larry Taylor. With Toronto's win Saturday in Calgary, Owens is now 5-0 when facing Taylor "¦ For how much Jon Cornish struggled to start this season behind a battered offensive line, consider this: The Stamps running back is just 56 yards off the league rushing lead, which is now held by Saskatchewan's Kory Sheets. The two will face each other Saturday "¦ What a day for the Muambas. Just a few days after Henoc Muamba had two forced fumbles for the Blue Bombers in a win over the Tiger-Cats, older brother Cauchy Muamba had two interceptions against the Riders. Cauchy gets bragging rights as he was named Canadian player of the week "¦ Another former Stampeder has joined the Argos as Ken-Yon Rambo officially joined the team after spending the past couple of months hanging around practice "¦ The Ticats get a boost to their roster this week as Andy Fantuz is expected to come back after missing a week due to a concussion.

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Cory Boyd may hit CFL road block

Until Cory Boyd learns to block, he will never be considered a complete running back in this league.

No amount of rushing yardage can make up for one quarterback injury, and if Boyd is stuck in protection, there is a danger of someone getting hurt.

When the Toronto Argonauts cut the two-time 1,000-yard rusher last Sunday, it sent a shockwave through the CFL.

Then TSN put together a package of missed blocking assignments Boyd had this season, each putting Ricky Ray in a tough situation.

The strange part about those highlights though were how Boyd knew which player he was supposed to pick up. He just seemed incapable of stopping the oncoming rush.

In his first game with the Edmonton Eskimos, there was a play where Boyd was called upon to pick up the blitz -- which he recognized -- but he didn't even slow down the rusher the least little bit.

Unless he learns how to block, or gives maximum effort every time, there is a chance Boyd will be cut right out of the league.

It's happened before. Back in 2006, the Lions parted ways with Antonio Warren because he couldn't protect Dave Dickenson. Warren never found another CFL gig.

At some point, the poor blocking outweighs the rushing yardage, and Boyd isn't a great receiver, either.

For years, the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders had the same running backs in Joffrey Reynolds and Wes Cates. There were always players trying out for those teams who did something better than Reynolds and Cates, but none of them did everything well.

Both Reynolds and Cates knew that blocking was a key part of what they did, and they did it well.

So, the Argos look much better off with Chad Kackert as their main running back, and it has nothing to do with how many yards he gets.

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Lulay proving to be straight shooter

Players talk about consistency all the time in the CFL. Travis Lulay has reached it on a high level.

At least once during each of the past 18 starts the B.C. Lions quarterback has made, he's thrown a touchdown pass.

This is only Lulay's second full season as a starting pivot, but he's already on track to put himself in a category with some all-time greats.

By throwing a TD against the Saskatchewan Roughriders Sunday (getting a lot of help from Arland Bruce's amazing effort), Lulay tied Khari Jones for the fourth-best run in league history.

Next up: Two legends. Anthony Calvillo (2008-09) and Doug Flutie (1996-97) each have streaks of 21 games that ended well short of Sam Etcheverry's CFL record of 34.

If Lulay continues, he would move into sole possession of second place Sept. 15 at home against the Toronto Argonauts.

The run would have to march on until early August next year for him to match Etcheverry.

The way he's going, we wouldn't put it past him.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby

 


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