For some, it might have been the last football game they will ever play in.
For others, it might have been a ‘stay of execution’ before eventually getting cut.
While for one, it was a coming out party.
That’s the best way to describe the end result of the B.C. Lions 30-27 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday night in Regina.
13 players were released on Monday morning, leaving the Lions with a handful of more cuts to come as the football club prepares for its season-opener on June 8th in Calgary against the Stampeders.
There were no major revelations in the group with only defensive back Colby Williams being let go somewhat of a surprise. Williams had looked good at times in camp but conditioning issues may have played a role in his release.
One of the players who this agent believed who was going to be a part of those cuts on Monday was Global wide receiver Jevoni Robinson.
A former member of the North Carolina State Wolfpack basketball team, Robinson transitioned to football a few years ago and has looked extremely raw in training camp. He never really stood in any of the practices – something that fellow rookie wide outs Ayden Eberhardt and Bryson Daughtry did in Kamloops – but Robinson was outstanding in Regina, catching five passes for 44 yards with a touchdown and almost scoring on another before being downed on the one-yard line.
Daughtry, who emerged to the point where he was taking reps in practice with the first-team offense with Keon Hatcher being sidelined with a foot injury, was targeted on four occasions but could only come up with one catch - although it was a 41-yarder.
Eberhardt, however, was the story of the night.
At 6-8 and 225 pounds, Robinson passes the eyeball test. At 6-2, 195 Eberhardt doesn’t wow you with size and/or speed but his football IQ is off the charts. All camp long he’s just been that dependable receiver who is supposed to be where he supposed to be and makes the catch.
A University of Wyoming product, Eberhardt was flying under the radar but became a major blip after his performance in Regina in which he was targeted eight times and came up with six catches for 108 yards with his best reception being the one where he collided with a Roughrider defender which resulted in him stumbling backwards and making a catch while off-balance.
As far as the vacancy at running back, the Lions have decided to go with the tandem of Antonio Williams and Taquan ‘Smoke’ Mizzell after Buddy Howell was part of Monday’s cuts.
The numbers in Regina for Williams and Mizzell were rather unimpressive but they were running behind a makeshift line and both backs showed an ability to make the first man miss. Williams, who rushed for 23 yards on six carries, basically took one-yard gains and turned them into four-yard gains just on his own. Mizzell, who had six carries for 16 yards, also showed a nice burst and wasthisclose to taking it to the house on one particular run.
If there is one thing that has become evident during this year’s training camp in Kamloops, it’s the depth that the Lions have – particularly on defence.
The Lions have an abundance of depth at defensive line where 15 players remain on the active roster. The Lions usually run an eight-man rotation in games but that number could even be pushed to nine with the way sophomore Josh Archibald has performed on special teams.
It truly is an embarrassment of riches at the position with first-year players such as Francis Bimay, Marcus Moore, Amir Siddiq and Alex Tchangam all looking like they can contribute. Miles Fox, who saw action in three games last year while spending the vast majority of the season on the practice roster, was an absolute beast in Regina in handling blockers but in all likelihood will be left in Vancouver when the season starts in Calgary.
One player who could be poised for great season is Woody Baron. He has looked exceptional in one-on-ones and looks to be 100% healthy after missing the first part of the season with an ankle injury. When asked if his great play was related to the ankle being healthy Baron responded by saying “Yeah, this season it works.”
And finally, we wrap our NHL playoff predictions by taking a look at the Stanley Cup Finals between the Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers.
They say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Is it just me or does anyone else draw parallels between this year’s Panthers and the 1994 Vancouver Canucks?
Florida snuck into the playoffs this year when the Pittsburgh Penguins laid an egg against the Chicago Blackhawks in their second-to-last game of the season. The Panthers 92-point season came after two stellar campaigns in which they won the President’s Trophy with 122 points. That came off the shortened Covid season in which they were on pace for 115 points.
The 1994 Canucks squeaked into the post-season with 85 points after two pretty successful seasons in which they accumulated 96 and 101 points respectively in 1991-92 and 1992-93.
The Panthers won three straight games against the Boston Bruins in the first round to win their series – including two in overtime. Overcoming that adversity galvanized the Panthers.
The 1994 Canucks, like the Panthers, were down three games to one against the Calgary Flames in the opening round before winning three straight games in overtime to win the series. As we all know, that magical ride ended in a heartbreaking defeat in game seven in New York versus the Rangers.
History tells me that the Panthers magical ride ends the same way.
Vegas in six games.
Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.