Here are six players to watch in the Grey Cup on Sunday, pitting the defensive strength of the Edmonton Eskimos against the offensive prowess of the Ottawa Redblacks:
The 40-year-old quarterback is having a storybook year, and is the sentimental favourite to win the CFL’s most outstanding player award. Could he pull off a sweep of the MOP, Grey Cup and Cup MVP award? He came close in 2008 with Calgary, winning two of three, losing the outstanding player award that season to Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo.
Ellingson’s winning 93-yard catch-and-run touchdown grab against Hamilton in the East final showed that, along with his sure hands, he’s a threat after the catch too. When Burris left Hamilton two seasons ago, he made a plea for the Redblacks to acquire Ellingson and they listened, bringing him in this season. They have been magic ever since.
The all-star cornerback is immediately recognizable by his long dreadlocks. You might not see the name on the back of his jersey, but you’ll know who he is by his aggressive play and the verbal sparring he uses to get receivers off their game. Kanneh was tied for the league lead with six interceptions this season.
One of the toughest quarterbacks in the CFL, Reilly has overcome a knee injury that forced him to miss much of the regular season, and he’s hungry. The Eskimos have won nine straight with Reilly, and some might make the case that right now he’s a better clutch quarterback than Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell.
Bowman is a big target at six-foot-three and 217 pounds, and he can overpower smaller defensive backs. In the West final, he caught six passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Hard to believe that, in 2010, Bowman was released by Winnipeg because he was dropping too many balls.
You don’t see many cornerbacks as big as six-foot-five defender Patrick Watkins. Calgary receiver Eric Rogers said recently that playing against the Eskimos secondary is like running patterns in a forest. It will, however, be interesting to see if Ottawa’s offence picks on him the way the Stampeders did in the West final.