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Roughriders' Simon set to break all-time receptions record on Cahoon's home turf

09/28/2013 04:44 EDT | Updated 11/28/2013 05:12 EST
MONTREAL - Geroy Simon has come to Ben Cahoon's home field to try to break the CFL's all-time pass receptions record.

Five catches last week against B.C. left the Saskatchewan slotback tied with the retired Cahoon at 1,017 career receptions

There is little doubt the record will fall when the Roughriders (8-4) take on the Montreal Alouettes (4-8) on Sunday afternoon. Simon has caught at last one pass in 182 consecutive games.

"It's a great accomplishment," Simon said Saturday. "I consider Ben a friend and someone who has been very good in this league for a long time.

"He's one of the greats, and to have the opportunity to break his record in the stadium where he did so many great things is an honour. It'll be fitting to break it here."

The record will be a sideshow in a game between two injury-riddled clubs that are both desperate to end three-game losing streaks.

The Roughriders have not won since running back Kory Sheets was injured, while Montreal, missing both starter Anthony Calvillo and backup Tanner Marsh, will have Josh Neiswander making a second straight start at quarterback.

His backups will be former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, who only joined the team in August, and Canadian Kyle Graves, who had been trying to crack the lineup as a receiver.

Simon's chase of the record Cahoon set in 2010 has stirred debate on two of the CFL's all-time great receivers, who were very different in their style of play.

Cahoon, now a 41-year-old receivers coach at his alma mater, Brigham Young University, was known for being small and slow but blessed with remarkable hands.

Most of his catches were for seven or eight yards over the middle, where he'd grab the ball out of a crowd of defenders and hang on while taking ferocious hits.

The 38-year-old Simon is better know as a deep threat, although the Johnstown, Pa., native catches balls short and long.

"It's unfair to compare us because we were two different types of receiver," said Simon. "He was more of a possession guy and I was a more dynamic player, in the sense that I feel I can do a little bit of everything.

"I wasn't necessarily a down-field guy but I can catch the ball downfield. I wasn't a possession guy, but I can do that as well. I don't know if you could say I was a more complete player. I wanted to play a more complete game."

The five-foot-nine Cahoon, considered a non-import because he spent part of his childhood in various southern Alberta towns, played 13 seasons, all with Montreal. He won three Grey Cups and was named the league's top Canadian twice.

He is sixth all-time in receiving yards with 13,301.

On Oct. 11, 2010, he broke the previous record of 1,006 catches held by Terry Vaughn.

Simon, in his 15th season, broke Milt Stegall's record for career receiving yards last season and has since stretched it to 16,188. He is also one 100-yard game short of former Calgary Stampeder Allen Pitts' record of 64.

Now he is on the brink of passing Cahoon.

"We'll throw him every pass all day until he gets it," Riders coach Corey Chamblin joked. "I was here when Ben got it, so that will be something unique to see.

"It'll be wonderful for Geroy. He's earned it."

Simon will be overtaking one of the most popular players in Alouettes history.

Veteran receiver Eric Deslauriers said Cahoon's trademark was reliability.

"He was a guy that caught probably six or seven balls a game," said Deslauriers. "Teams knew he was going to catch balls. They knew the routes he was going to run. They knew Anthony was going to throw him the ball in triple coverage. And he came up with the ball every time.

"He was the type of guy that, you see him on the street and you think 'what's this guy, the kicker?' But the reality is that he was a great leader and an awesome football player."

Jim Popp, the Alouettes coach and general manager, said Cahoon's success came from intelligence and excellent technique.

"He had unbelievable hands," said Popp. "But the thing he didn't get enough credit for was that he knew how to come out of a break and separate himself.

"He'd dip his shoulder low and he could always create separation between a defensive back and himself, no matter much bigger, stronger, or faster they were than him."

Popp has also admired Simon, who broke into the CFL with Winnipeg but had his best years after moving to the B.C. Lions in 2001. He signed with Saskatchewan this season, where he has not been Darian Durant's main target but has 28 catches for 401 yards and three touchdowns.

"He's always been a deep ball threat," said Popp. "He goes up and makes catches.

"And I love his Superman pose. I just don't want him doing it in our stadium."

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