CFL Briefs – December 15

The Edmonton Eskimos cut three coaches Tuesday as new head coach Kavis Reed continues to assemble his staff.

Eskimos cut coaches

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Eskimos cut three coaches Tuesday as new head coach Kavis Reed continues to assemble his staff.

Special teams co-ordinator and assistant head coach Noel Thorpe, receivers coach Jason Tucker and defensive backs coach Stacey Hairston were each let go by the team.

Thorpe and Hairston joined the Eskimos in 2008 while Tucker joined the staff last season.

“We would like to thank these four individuals for their contributions to the Eskimos,” said Reed.

“They did an outstanding job during their time here. Despite our decision to go in another direction, I firmly believe they are all very good coaches and wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours.”

Reed, who the Eskimos hired last week, retained offensive line coach Tim Prinsen on Monday.


Blake still top-ranked prospect for 2011 CFL draft

TORONTO — Philip Blake continues to be the top prospect for next year’s CFL Canadian college draft.

The six-foot-three, 315-pound centre at Baylor University holds down the top spot among the top-15 prospects for next year’s draft as rated by the CFL’s Scouting bureau.

Blake, from Toronto, was named the top prospect when this year’s list was first unveiled in September.

The top three spots in September’s list remain unchanged with Rice offensive lineman Scott Mitchell and Calgary slotback Anthony Parker remaining second and third, respectively.

Defensive tackle Vaughn Martin, currently with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, moved up from eighth to No. 4 in the rankings.

Martin was selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft out of Western Ontario with three years of CIS eligibility remaining, becoming the first CIS underclassman to be selected.

Any CFL team drafting Martin would have to wait until he was finished in the NFL before being able to sign him.

Tyler Holmes, an offensive lineman at Tulsa, is fifth after being ranked ninth in September while Moe Petrus of Connecticut, another offensive lineman, dropped to sixth overall after taking the No. 4 position in September.


Fantuz to ‘work out’ in NFL

The CFL’s outstanding Canadian is testing the waters south of the border.

Saskatchewan Roughriders slotback Andy Fantuz was scheduled to participate in a workout Tuesday with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has another session booked Saturday with the Minnesota Vikings.

“That’s all I have scheduled so far,” Fantuz said in a video posted this week on YouTube. “They are just workouts.

“Just kind of feeling it out and see how it goes and we’ll take it one day at a time.”

In the video, Fantuz said he was scheduled to work out Tuesday with the Steelers. A Pittsburgh official said it’s club policy not comment publicly on player workouts.

The six-foot-four, 220-pound Fantuz examined his NFL options last year before signing a new deal with the Roughriders. However, because Fantuz is entering his option year, he has until Feb. 16 to work out for NFL clubs and potentially sign a contract.

If he doesn’t sign an NFL deal, Fantuz would return to Saskatchewan for the 2011 campaign.

The six-foot-four, 220-pound Fantuz enjoyed a banner 2010 season with Saskatchewan. The native of Chatham, Ont., was the CFL’s leading receiver this past season with 87 catches for 1,380 yards and six TDs.

Fantuz became the first Canadian-born player to lead the CFL in receiving since Dave Sapunjis accomplished the feat with Calgary in 1995. Fantuz was named the league’s top Canadian this season as well as a league all-star for the first time in his five-year career.

The loss of Fantuz would be a huge blow to the Riders. In addition to his prowess on the football field, Fantuz is a very popular figure with Saskatchewan football fans and even has his own breakfast cereal, Fantuz Flakes.

But cracking an NFL roster would be a huge challenge for Fantuz. While he’s a big body and a huge target, there are questions whether Fantuz is fast enough to be effective south of the border.

Another question mark would be whether Fantuz could make an NFL team as a special-teams player, the traditional route many free agents take to a roster spot.

Fantuz said he took posted the YouTube video to eliminate the possibility of misinformation being distributed about his intentions.

“Sometimes when you read stuff in the paper or on TV it’s not necessarily true,” he said.

“But if it’s coming from me, you can bet on it.”

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