CFL brings in radio-in-helmet units for QBs

REGINA — Quarterbacks in the Canadian Football League might be used to getting an earful from their coaches while they’re on the sidelines, but now that can happen between plays.

REGINA — Quarterbacks in the Canadian Football League might be used to getting an earful from their coaches while they’re on the sidelines, but now that can happen between plays.

The CFL says it will equip quarterbacks’ helmets with special headsets that allow coaches to communicate directly with their pivots between plays.

Saskatchewan Roughriders starting quarterback Darian Durant said it’s an important move.

“I think it’s a great thing,” said Durant. “It saves you a little time. Not much thinking to do and you can go out and break the huddle a little earlier and see what the defence is giving you. I think it’ll definitely be an advantage.”

The league says on its website that each team will have three separate radio-in-helmet units, one for each QB that dresses for games.

Only one system is allowed to be “active” on field at any one time. Communication is one-way — the QB has a headset in his helmet but no microphone. Coaches on the sideline and in the team’s spotter’s booth atop the stands can communicate via the system.

The device will be turned on once a team gains possession and turned off when there are ten seconds remaining on the play clock, and the signal will not be switched back on until the play has been whistled dead by the officials.

Kevin McDonald, the CFL’s director of football operations, said in a statement on the league website that the change will improve communication with the quarterback.

“This is a more efficient way for a coach to call a play or communicate with his quarterback, instead of using numbers or signals,” said McDonald.

Durant said the technology has advanced the game in the NFL. He doesn’t see a downside to using it in the CFL.

“Only if there’s some technical difficulties, then it could be kind of tough because you’re not using your signal system any more. As long as everything goes smoothly then I don’t see any negative effects,” said Durant.

He jokingly added: “Unless coach comes in your ear, but the good thing (is) you only have 20-second play clocks, so there’s only so much he can say.”

“It would be good if he could hear some of my thoughts out there on the field, but you know you have to take it one step at a time. I’m just grateful that the technology has made it to the CFL and you know sooner or later it may advance,” said Durant, who used the system a little during his time with the Baltimore Ravens in 2005.

Riders coach Ken Miller said the team would likely start practising with the system Wednesday at training camp.

“It’ll help the communication, getting plays in the game. I think it’ll help make the game better,” said Miller.

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