West Central native Kayden Johnson is gearing up for rookie camp with the Calgary Stampeders beginning tomorrow. He spoke with West Central Online back at the end of April, about how he was looking forward to being back in the game of football after being cut last year by the BC Lions.
We asked Johnson his opinions on the CFL's new rule changes, that most noticeably included changes to the hash marks on the field of play, and an alteration to the leagues no yards penalty. Johnson may get the chance to return some kicks for the Stampeders this year, though he is more excited for the offensive rules that should create more potential fireworks on offense.
"I really liked the new changes. Especially with the hash marks coming in, utilizing the giant field. A lot of them seem like they want to speed up the game, and make it more offensive," said Johnson, as he compared the game to it's American rules counterpart, "NFL has the four downs, and CFL, even though we only have three downs, you can see they are making more rules to make more of an opportunity for the offense to score."
As a running back Johnson would certainly appreciate the extra down, but in growing up playing Canadian rules he has always loved the difference in styles. He will be in the backfield this year with Texas gunslinger Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who came out this offseason as a major supporter of four down football making it's way to Canada. Besides his eagerness to rub Rider fans the wrong way, someone has to handle the other side of the coin.
Johnson gave this comment.
"Me as a running back, I like the four downs, because you get to run the ball more," laughed Johnson.
The CFL has always presented a unique style of football when it comes to running the ball, as Johnson along with every other back in the league understands the importance of a first down carry.
"As soon as you get about five yards on that first run, then you have so many options on second down. It opens up the game."
Saskatchewan fans' will hate to see another rival being referenced, but one look at the past few running attacks out of Winnipeg for Andrew Harris and the Blue Bombers proves just how important that strong start to a set of downs can be. Thankfully for the Roughrider fans, Winnipeg will have to look for a new lead horse this year after Andrew Harris took his talents to Toronto.
Players will be back on the field this week as coaches work to implement their new schemes with the fresh rules. A cloud of doubt does however currently loom around the league, as the start to training camp could be affected by an ongoing labour dispute. The CFL and it's player's current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire by the end of the week, and both sides have been busy trading proposals in order to get things going without a hitch for the CFL in 2022.