Cromartie caught in middle with 'Gades

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

The Renegades have been cut down to size.

And Ottawa coach and GM Joe Paopao came up with more interesting moves to reach the 40-man limit that will reshape the team heading into the 2005 season.

The biggest change comes on defence with veteran import Keaton Cromartie, who has been with the club since 2002 as a defensive lineman, will start at middle linebacker with Ottawa native Jason Kralt as the backup -- provided Paopao doesn't pull the trigger on a trade before Friday's regular-season opener in Edmonton.

Cromartie moves to the middle of the defensive backfield following the release of young import Tony White, who had been viewed as a future star.

Also released were import linebacker Chris Shelling, import offensive lineman Morris Unutoa, Canadian offensive tackle Christian Liebl-Cote and import defensive end John Turntine.

All CFL teams cut down rosters to 40 players -- 19 Canadians, 18 Americans and three QBs of any nationality -- by 3 p.m. yesterday.

The roster does not include players on a team's suspended list, injured reserve or practice roster.

The Renegades moved import defensive lineman Johnny Scott onto the suspended list and activated Canadian defensive tackle Cameron Legault off the injured list, along with non-import offensive linemen George Hudson and Val St. Germain.

TOUGH BATTLE ON DEFENCE

The expulsion of highly regarded players like White, Turntine and Anthony Collier, who was released on Friday, demonstrated how tough the competition was for jobs along the defence's two front lines during training camp.

Kyries Hebert and Gerald Vaughn will start as outside linebackers between Cromartie, with Kralt and import D'Wayne Taylor as backups.

In the defensive backfield, Bo Rogers and newcomer Greg Moss, who has impressed Paopao, are set to start on the corners with George McCullough on the sideline with a foot injury.

"He's Mighty Mouse," Paopao said of Moss, a Miami native who's listed at 5-foot-7 and 175 lbs. "If he was 6-foot, he'd probably be in the NFL. He's tough and he plays physical."

Korey Banks and new import Sean Weston get the nod at halfback.

"We like his upside," Paopao said of Weston. "We think he's going to get nothing but better."

Surviving cuts were three players from the 2005 Canadian college draft -- linebacker and first-rounder Cam Yeow, receiver/fullback Cory Hathaway and defensive lineman Adrian Baird.

Hathaway, a native of Lethbridge, Alta. who played college ball at Tulsa, emerged as the team's starting fullback.

"He's been a heck of a find," said Paopao.

The roster could change before Friday's opener in Edmonton, with the Renegades taking a look at the cuts of other teams.

The club picked up import receiver Frank Cutolo off waivers from the B.C. Lions on Friday.

"He's been productive on a team where they have a slew of receivers -- proven receivers," said Paopao. "We'll see where he's at, and we'll go from there."

In his two years with the Lions, Cutolo played four games against the Renegades and scored three touchdowns, with 14 catches for 351 yards.

Among the cuts by Edmonton yesterday was veteran quarterback Khari Jones, who was the 2001 league MVP with Winnipeg.

"I've always liked him," said Paopao of Jones who he worked with in B.C. when Jones broke into the league in 1997.

Brad Banks, who could miss the opening two weeks with a shoulder injury, Darnell Kennedy and Paul Peterson are the backups to starting QB Kerry Joseph.

"If we didn't have those guys, (Jones) would be a guy we'd have to consider."

NOTABLE CUTS: The Argos released T John Feugill, a two-year starter with Toronto -- including last year's Grey Cup victory in Ottawa. The 6-foot-7, 288-lb. Feugill lost his job to newcomer Jerome Davis, a former defensive lineman converted to offence by the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. Also released was WR Lal Knight, a former Argos starter who sat out all of last year after being released by the club in training camp 2003. The Argos also decided on a No. 3 QB, keeping youngster Charles Peterson ahead of former NFL player Scott Covington, who was also cut ... Veteran OLs Fred Childress and Canadian Luc Mullinder, who was expected to battle for a starting spot on the defensive line, were among 12 players cut by the Roughriders. Childress was a 12-year veteran who earned CFL all-star honours three times and was named the league's top lineman in 1998 while with Calgary ... The Tiger-Cats released 15 players, including veteran QB Ben Sankey ... Rookie RB Jeronimo Huerta-Flores of the Vanier Cup-champion Laval Rouge et Or was among three players let go by the Alouettes.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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