5 Leos to Watch
With a big shift in the Lions‘ roster this offseason, things are sure to look different on the field in 2013. The most notable area for these changes is at WR. After the highly publicized, heavily scrutinized trade of Geroy Simon, the Lions also parted ways with veteran Arland Bruce, ultimately taking away the two biggest names in the receiving core.
With the great threat of Andrew Harris in the backfield, he keeps opposing defenses on alert and frees up a bit of space in the secondary for Lulay to pick apart. So even though the orange and white will be without their beloved fan-favorite Simon, don’t expect this season to be a let down in the passing game.
Having said that, I surely expect to see some solid rushing totals, especially if the team can get off to good starts and early leads.
On the defensive side of the ball there are some guarantees. Adam Bighill will be brilliant, Korey Banks will be everywhere, and the entire unit will play good football, just one of the perks of having a defensive minded head coach. With regards to special teams, in the CFL you just never know. We will find out just how long Paul McCallum can continue to boot it through the uprights, and Tim Brown is always good for an entertaining kick return.
Here are five players who will have a surprisingly good 2013 campaign.
DE Khreem Smith
After two strong seasons with the Lions, Khreem Smith is poised to make the jump to elite defensive end in the CFL. With the departure of talented but beleaguered Khalif Mitchell, there is certainly room for other defensive linemen to step up for B.C., and with Smith’s natural size and abilities, that could likely be him.
I predict 10+ sacks in 2013.
SB Shawn Gore
Canadian slotback Shawn Gore is a pleasure to watch as a fan. He works hard and has great hands. After back-to-back 60 catch seasons and a breakout 2012 with five TDs, look for Gore to become even more essential to the offense in 2013.
With the top two receivers out of the picture, Gore is likely to move into one of those spots and contribute immensely to the Lions aerial attack. Also note Gore’s great footwork and knack for getting just enough yards for first downs along the sidelines.
WR Emmanuel Arceneaux
After a time away from the CFL, it is great to have Emmanuel Arceneaux back in orange for 2013. After a stint in the NFL, number 84 has signed on with the Leos and should be as good as ever. It might take a few weeks early on to get his timing with Lulay and the other receivers in place, but after that the sky is the limit with this guy.
He is a true talent and a very good sized WR by CFL standards. Look for him to pretty much take over Geroy Simon’s duties of the mid range clutch first down catches, to the long jump balls in the end zone.
LB Anton McKenzie
Over the past four years in B.C. Anton McKenzie has built up a very respectable career after coming over from the Riders. He’s always been a bit under the radar, mainly because of other big names on the defense taking all the spotlight.
But with his physicality and ability to cover the pass, look for McKenzie to have an even stronger season as this nucleus of LBs grow together into the most dominant in the league.
LB Solomon Elimimian
After dominating the CFL for his first two years, Solomon Elimimian took his talents to the NFL. Things didn’t quite work out, quite to B.C. fans’ liking, because the star LB came back.
Even though he was replaced by a very able Adam Bighill, who had an amazing 2012, don’t forget about Solomon. He is a very talented player with a never stop motor. He’s the kind of player that truly plays ‘hard to the whistle’ every play.
Look for the Lions to try and get him more time shared with Bighill, or to incorporate a 3-4 defense, situation pending.