Not one training camp snap has been taken, but it’s safe to say the BC Lions backfield has been transformed in the last 24 hours by general manager Wally Buono.
Wednesday the club signed former REDBLACK Jeremiah Johnson, who led the league with 9 rushing touchdowns in 2015. They followed that up Thursday by inking former Saskatchewan Roughrider power back Anthony Allen.
Both players are internationals of course, which stayed true to Buono’s desire to move away from using a national running back. When you look at the Lions roster and see Allen, Johnson, Chris Rainey and Shaquille Murray-Lawrence, you can see an array of different talents they have at their disposal.
There will also likely be a couple more brought in to join newcomers Mikel Leshoure and Sam Ojuri. Not everyone will likely make it to main camp, particularly after the work the general manager has done here this week.
Both Allen and Johnson are versatile players who can also provide protection in passing situations. Allen is a tough runner, similar in size and style to Calgary’s Jerome Messam. Johnson is somewhat shiftier and has a nose for the end zone. Interchanging them during games will keep them fresh as well, a luxury they couldn’t employ to the same degree with Andrew Harris.
When you want to change things up with a scat back, Rainey and Murray-Lawrence come into play.
Harris will be missed, not only on the field but in the locker room and the community. But Buono has instantly given the Lions depth at running back, which should provide hope for fans who have often called the Lions boring and predictable. Stop Andrew Harris, and you had a good chance of beating the BC Lions.
Buono is also abandoning the idea of starting a Canadian at left tackle with the signing of Levy Adcock who comes to the Lions from the Saskatchewan Roughriders and at the urging of offensive line coach Dan Dorazio who liked what he saw from the 6’6” 325-pound tackle. This will have the Lions start three Canadians inside, with Cam Thorn the leading candidate to assume the role of centre.
Hunter Steward and Kirby Fabien will be slotted into the guard spots, with the hope that Steward can finally put his health issues behind him and build on what started out as a promising career. Cody Husband and T-Dre Player will also be in the mix.
While Buono hasn’t signed any of the “big names” in free agency that teams like Saskatchewan and Winnipeg have, he has improved his roster with his six signings so far.
So far, the general manager is doing for the head coach exactly what he said he was going to do and free agent camps haven’t even begun yet.
Is it June yet?