Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Worth watching

A number of CFL players will warrant our extra attention this season

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The 2013 CFL regular season gets underway June 27 in Winnipeg with the Blue Bombers hosting the Montreal Alouettes.

Here are 10 players to watch this year:

-- Chad Owens, Toronto. The 31-year-old Hawaiian was sensational in 2012, posting a league-record 3,863 all-purpose yards while leading the CFL in receiving with 94 catches for 1,328 yards and six TDs. And the league's outstanding player capped his stellar season by helping Toronto win the 100th Grey Cup.

-- Jon Cornish, Calgary. The 28-year-old native of New Westminster, B.C., was the CFL's top Canadian last year, and for good reason. Cornish ran for a league-high 1,457 yards to surpass Norm Kwong's 56-year-old record for most rushing yards by a Canadian. Cornish was also the first Canuck to lead the CFL in rushing since '88.

-- Andrew Harris, B.C. The 26-year-old Winnipeg native also served notice last year he's a threat for the top Canadian award. The B.C. Lions running back ran for 1,112 yards and added 75 catches for 718 yards. Harris scored 11 TDs and his 105 catches since 2011 is tops among CFL running backs.

-- Emmanuel Arceneaux, B.C. It's been two years since the six-foot-two, 211-pound receiver played in the CFL, but he's back with the B.C. Lions. Arceneaux originally signed with B.C. as a free agent in 2009 and in two CFL seasons amassed 130 catches for 1,971 yards -- a solid 15.2-yard average -- and 12 TDs. He spent the last two years in the NFL.

-- Geroy Simon, Saskatchewan. The veteran slotback enters his 15th CFL season but first with the Roughriders after being dealt by B.C. in the off-season. Simon was limited to 54 catches for 700 yards and two touchdowns last year due to hamstring injuries, the first time in 10 seasons he didn't crack the 1,000-yard plateau. Simon, 37, needs 29 catches to break Ben Cahoon's all-time record (1,017).

-- Buck Pierce, Winnipeg. The 31-year-old arrived at Winnipeg's camp 20 pounds lighter hoping to be more mobile. Injuries have plagued Pierce throughout his CFL career and his health will be a huge factor for the Bombers, who have former fourth-stringer Justin Goltz and newcomers Chase Clement and Max Hall behind Pierce.

-- John Chick, Saskatchewan. The defensive end is back with the Roughriders following three NFL seasons. Chick was the CFL's top defensive player in 2009 before signing with the Indianapolis Colts. He helped the Riders win the '07 Grey Cup and come close in '09. That year, the six-foot-four, 250-pound Chick had 11 sacks and will be counted on to consistently pressure rival quarterbacks in 2013.

-- Arland Bruce III, Montreal. The slotback enters his 12th CFL season but first in Montreal with quarterback Anthony Calvillo. Bruce has cracked the 1,000-yard receiving plateau six times and been a member of two Grey Cup-winning squads. But the 35-year-old's last 1,000-yard campaign was 2010. He had 43 catches for 603 yards last year with B.C. but still scored five TDs.

-- Mike Reilly, Edmonton. After three seasons serving as a backup in B.C., the six-foot-three, 215-pound Reilly is Edmonton's starter. The Eskimos acquired Reilly to compete with Matt Nichols for the No. 1 job but the position became Reilly's for good after Nichols suffered a season-ending knee injury.

-- J.R. Larose, B.C. The Lions boasted the CFL's top-ranked defence last year with Cauchy Muamba at safety. He's now in Winnipeg so Larose, 29, an Edmonton native, steps in. Larose should get plenty of support from a veteran Lions secondary but is no rookie. He's entering his third season in B.C. and seventh in the CFL.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 22, 2013 C3

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