SPORTS

Riders' coach Chamblin puts Simon's debut on hold, rules slotback out of action

07/03/2013 06:13 EDT | Updated 09/02/2013 05:12 EDT
Geroy Simon's much-anticipated debut with the Saskatchewan Roughriders will have to wait another week.

Head coach Corey Chamblin announced Wednesday that Simon, a key off-season acquisition, won't play Friday in Saskatchewan's home opener against the Calgary Stampeders. Simon missed the Riders' season-opening 39-18 win over the Edmonton Eskimos with a leg injury.

With the Riders hosting this year's Grey Cup, GM Brendan Taman was busy this off-season tweaking his roster to make a run at the CFL title. He signed defensive back Dwight Anderson, linebackers Rey Williams and Tristan Black and defensive linemen John Chick and Ricky Foley as free agents while trading with Hamilton for defensive lineman Jermaine McElveen.

But his biggest off-season move was landing Simon from the B.C. Lions in January. The six-foot, 198-pound Simon is the CFL's all-time receiving yards leader (15,787) and needs just 29 catches to break Ben Cahoon's league mark of 1,017 career receptions.

Simon was part of two Grey Cup-winning teams and a six-time all-star over 12 seasons in B.C. But he missed five games last year with hamstring ailments that limited him to 54 catches for 700 yards and two TDs.

It marked the first time in 10 seasons Simon hadn't cracked the 1,000-yard receiving plateau.

Saskatchewan is looking for the 37-year-old Simon to return to form and provide veteran leadership for a young receiving corps anchored by speedy Weston Dressler (94 catches, 1,206 yards, 13 TDs).

On Tuesday, the Riders released receiver Greg Carr, prompting suggestions the club was paving the way for Simon to make his debut with the club Friday.

Saskatchewan last won the Grey Cup in 2007 but the past two years the team representing the host city has won the CFL title. The B.C. Lions defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 34-23 at B.C. Place in 2011 before the Toronto Argonauts beat the Calgary Stampeders 35-22 last November at Rogers Centre.

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BLISTERING START: It didn't take CFL offences long to dispel the popular notion that defences have the advantage to start the regular season.

A total of 277 points were scored in last week's four opening games, or an average of 69.3 per contest. Last season, the league average was 51.8 points per game.

What's more, fans were treated to an average of 755.3 yards of net offence per contest, including 577.3 yards passing. Last year's average was 552.3 yards.

More surprising, though, was the average of 214 yards rushing per game, compared to 209 in 2012.

CFL teams also scored 30 touchdowns (20 passing, five rushing, two on defence, two punt returns, one kickoff return) and booted 18 field goals last week. Offences averaged an amazing 7.2 yards on first down.

Toronto and Hamilton hooked up for quite an offensive display Friday night at Rogers Centre, combining for 936 net offensive yards in the Argonauts' 39-34 victory. And that didn't include a 104-yard kickoff return TD by Tiger-Cats' rookie Lindsey Lamar.

Attendance was also up as the average gathering was 31,462 compared to 28,191 last year.

Calgary running back Jon Cornish had 172 yards rushing on 24 carries in the Stampeders' 44-32 win over B.C. The CFL's top Canadian last season had six carries of 10 or more yards against the Lions.

Turnovers were also an important factor. The Saskatchewan Roughriders and Montreal Alouettes were both victorious after forcing five turnovers apiece against Edmonton and Winnipeg, respectively.

Not surprisingly, Saskatchewan is 11-1 the last two years when it wins the turnover battle but 1-17 when it loses it.

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HALFTIME HONOUR: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will stage their first home game of the 2013 season at Alumni Stadium in Guelph, Ont., hosting the Edmonton Eskimos.

But at halftime, the club will pay tribute to former offensive lineman Miles Gorrell and receiver/kick-returner Earl Winfield. Both are former Ticats who will be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame this year.

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PREFONTAINE BACK: The Toronto Argonauts will have a familiar face handling kicking duties when they face the B.C. Lions on Friday night.

Veteran Noel Prefontaine will be the club's punter, kicker and kickoff specialist after incumbent Swayze Waters was injured in Toronto's season opener against Hamilton last week.

Waters is expected to be sidelined at least two weeks.

Prefontaine, 39, returned to the Argos prior to the start of season, joining the club's practice roster. He was limited to seven regular-season games in 2012 after being forced to undergo major hip surgery last summer.

Prefontaine returned earlier than expected to help Toronto win the Grey Cup but was released less than a month later. He's entering his 16th CFL season, 13th with the Argos.

NOTES: Saskatchewan defensive lineman Tearrius George will rejoin his team in time for its game against Calgary. George was forced to watch the Riders' season-opening 39-18 win over Edmonton due to a one-game suspension he received from the CFL for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Stampeders' quarterback Drew Tate during last year's West Division semifinal.

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