The Toronto Argonauts and unbeaten Saskatchewan Roughriders will have starters Ricky Ray and Darian Durant back this week while veteran Kevin Glenn is available for the Calgary Stampeders. All three missed their respective teams' last games with injuries and had the benefit of a bye week to heal.
Ray returns to the Argos on Thursday night in Montreal after missing their 38-12 home win over B.C. on July 30 with a knee injury. Ray will wear a brace when East Division-leading Toronto (3-2) faces the Alouettes (2-3).
On Friday night, Durant will lead the Riders (5-0) into McMahon Stadium against Calgary (4-1) in a battle for top spot in the West Division. Incumbent Drew Tate was scheduled to start for the Stampeders but the club announced Tuesday he had suffered a setback with his injured right forearm and would be re-examined by doctors.
If Tate can't play, Glenn would start after missing Calgary's 37-24 win over Winnipeg on July 26 with a shoulder injury. Tate's last game action was in a 36-21 loss to Saskatchewan on July 5.
With both Tate and Glenn ailing, No. 3 Mitchell stepped in and threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns against Winnipeg. That earned Mitchell the CFL's offensive player of the week award.
Toronto headed into its bye week on a victorious note thanks in large part to Collaros. The second-year pro was 21-of-25 passing for 253 yards and three TDs versus B.C. in his first CFL start.
Ray was the CFL passing leader prior to being hurt with 1,203 yards. He has completed 75.4 per cent of his passes with eight TDs and no interceptions.
A lingering sprained right foot forced Durant to watch Willy lead Saskatchewan past Hamilton 32-20 on July 27 in Guelph, Ont. In just his second CFL start, Willy was 14-for-25 passing for 269 yards and three TDs as the Riders remained the league's lone unbeaten club.
Durant has factored heavily in Saskatchewan's early-season success. He was 74-of-107 passing (69.2 per cent) through the Riders' first four games for 1,021 yards, with a league-leading 12 touchdowns and no interceptions.
TICATS APPOINT GIBSON: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats appointed Glenn Gibson as their new president and chief operating officer, effective immediately.
Gibson takes over as president from Scott Mitchell, who remains the Ticats chief executive officer as well as the CEO of owner Bob Young's Canadian business operations.
Gibson, a Hamilton native, had served as a consultant with the Ticats the last two years.
The move wasn't surprising. Mitchell had said he wanted to name his successor as president before the Ticats moved into their new stadium next season.
Mitchell was appointed Ticats president in January 2007. During his tenure Hamilton made three playoff appearances but never finished above .500 or reached the Grey Cup.
Hamilton's last CFL title came in '99 with the late Ron Lancaster as head coach.
POPP RETURNS: Montreal GM Jim Popp makes his first appearance this season as interim head coach Thursday night versus Toronto.
Popp replaces Dan Hawkins, who was fired Thursday after just five games with Montreal (2-3). It will mark the third time in Popp's 18-year tenure as GM that he's also had to handle the club's coaching duties.
Popp took over from Rod Rust in '01 before hiring Don Matthews as head coach. Popp returned to the sidelines in '06 when Matthews became ill and led the Alouettes to a Grey Cup appearance.
He remained as coach in 2007, guiding Montreal to an 8-10 record before losing in the East Division semifinal to Winnipeg. Following the '07 campaign, Popp hired Marc Trestman as the Alouettes head coach.
Over five years, Trestman led Montreal to two Grey Cup wins in three appearances before being hired this off-season as head coach of the NFL's Chicago Bears.
Popp has a CFL regular-season coaching record of 10-13 and is 1-3 in the playoffs.
Under Popp, former CFL head coach Doug Berry — who was an advisor with Montreal — will handle the offence as offensive co-ordinator Mike Miller is taking a reduced role.
Montreal's offence, a strength under Trestman, struggled under Hawkins. The Alouettes are last overall in passing, net yards and total first downs while veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo — pro football's all-time leading passer — is fifth in passing with 1,035 yards and has five TD tosses against four interceptions but an efficiency rating of just 79.5.
Montreal will be without veteran receiver Jamel Richardson (knee) for the remainder of the season while running back Brandon Whitaker (shoulder) isn't expected to play against Toronto.
NOTES: There's much to like about Saskatchewan's start to the season but consider the Riders have turned the ball over just once through five games. By comparison, Winnipeg (1-4) has surrendered seven interceptions and seven fumbles, both league highs . . . Saskatchewan's Kory Sheets (league-high 712 rushing yards) is on pace to break Mike Pringle's single-season mark of 2,065 yards. But also on a record-setting pace is Calgary running back Jon Cornish. The native of New Westminster, B.C., is second overall in rushing with 501 yards, putting the 2012 top Canadian on pace to surpass the 1,457 yards he ran for last year when he broke Normie Kwong's 56-year-old single-season rushing record for Canadians . . . Edmonton linebacker JC Sherritt was the CFL's top defensive player last year after registering a league-record 130 tackles. Sherritt is tied with Montreal safety Kyries Hebert for fifth in tackles this year with 31, trailing Alouettes linebacker Chip Cox (39), teammate Damaso Munoz and Toronto linebacker Robert McCune (34 each) and Winnipeg linebacker Henoc Muamba (32). Hebert is also the CFL's sacks leader with seven . . . Calgary has knocked Saskatchewan from the ranks of the unbeaten three times in the last five years: in 2008 when the Riders began 6-0 as well as 2010 and last year when they opened each time with three straight wins. If the Riders win Friday night, not only will they improve to 6-0 but also win the season series with Calgary and earn the tie-breaker if the two teams end the season tied in the standings.