Lions loading up on Canadian offensive linemen
Courtesy Vancouver Province:
The belief that a CFL team can never have too any non-import offensive linemen officially has been challenged by the B.C. Lions.
The minimum three-year deal agreed upon last week by Parksville, B.C., product Justin Sorensen that was announced by Wally Buono was naturally portrayed by the coach/GM of the Lions Monday as giving his team more depth for training camp.
Truth is, the Lions have too many homegrowns to start the season.
Sorensen became the eighth Canadian lineman on the roster, and when third-round draft pick Matt Morencie wraps up his contract later this week the Lions will have three more non-imports than they carried last season.
“If it were up to (offensive line coach) Dan Dorazio we’d have 15 linemen. I’ve yet to be at a camp when the o-line doesn’t slow you down because of nicks,” said Buono.
“The problem is when you promise something and you can’t deliver; then you look like an idiot. I’m not going to cloud the issue. Our long-term plans are to get younger and more athletic. I have a plan and we’ll execute it.”
In coachspeak, that’s code for suggesting the Lions could soon be forced to decide whether they prefer the safety of the status quo at the expense of developing draft picks and territorial junior exemptions. And chances are they won’t wait until training camp next month in Abbotsford, B.C., before they figure it out.
With off-season contract extensions in hand, centre Angus Reid and right guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli have a leg up on retaining two of the three non-import spots the Lions plan to implement again this season. It’s wide-open from there, however.
Veteran left guard Kelly Bates was offered in trade earlier in the winter. And with Dean Valli, Jon Hameister-Reis, Lorne Plante and Andrew Jones all looking to move up the Lions will soon be in a position where they won’t be able to groom prospects indefinitely.
All four have been with the Lions in varying capacities for at least the past two seasons, which made it mildly surprising that Buono even offered up a 2010 first-round pick for non-import offensive lineman Zac Carlson in the CFL’s supplemental draft Monday. Carlson, the only player eligible in the auction-like draft, went as expected to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Sorensen could eventually make the process easier for the Lions if he is allowed to compete for the left tackle spot vacated by Rob Murphy, and will be given ample time to develop earning an average $75,000 over the life of his first CFL deal.