With all of the personnel changes experienced in the offseason, fans were anxious to see what the final roster would look like once the final cuts were announced. Of course there were the big name ‘free agents’ like Trevor Harris, Greg Ellingson, Don Unamba and Larry Dean who were going to make the team, but how many other changes were there going to be?
When the final cuts were posted Saturday night there were no ‘big surprises’. Jason Maas talked about the ‘character’ and the ‘talent’ of this year’s squad has and how difficult it was to make those decisions. While it was exciting to finalize the roster, the down side was having to say goodbye to those that were not going to be here. When the dust settled, there were 27 new faces on this year’s roster compared to last year.
Looking at this year’s team, one area that really has improved is the linebackers. The entire starting group has changed with the additions of Don Unamba, Larry Dean and Jovon Santos-Knox. They bring a lot of speed and experience to the position and when you combine that with a new philosophy from defensive coordinator Phillip Lolley, you have an Eskimo defense that is going to be a much more attacking and aggressive group.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Eskimo receiving corps has also changed dramatically. Gone are the likes of Derel Walker, Duke Williams and Bryan Mitchell and replaced with Greg Ellingson, DaVaris Daniel along with Ricky Collins Jr. Heading into week one, the offense is the biggest question as they have not been together very long and historically take longer to gel. A new quarterback (Trevor Harris) having to learn a new system means it could take a few weeks for the offense to get on track.
Although the coaching staff would never admit it, having the Montreal Alouette’s as your first opponent is a nice way to start the season. The team is in complete disarray as the CFL has stepped in to run the organization while looking new ownership. Late last week they fired their head coach, former NFL Green Bay Packer Mike Sherman which had many around the league wondering just what is going on in Montreal. Kavis Reed continues to be the General Manager and announced that Khari Jones take over the head coaching duties.