Oh Canada!
By: Mark Solway 
Posted: 2006-07-28
Category: Washington Redskins News
What's it all 'aboot' then, eh?

A weird phenomenon is shaping up at the 2006 Washington Redskins training camp - Canadians. Yes you read correctly, that was plural, Canadians. Like beavers to a dam, there is a Canadian invasion sweeping the NFL as two players travel from the Great White North to vie to make the 2006 Washington Redskin roster.

Take off hoser, no way.

It's true. When Jesse Lumsden and Kerry Carter take the field at Redskin Park next Monday, it marks the dawning of a new age in NFL football - the Canadian era.

Well maybe not, but it is nice to see a growth in Canadian numbers and two is growth.

Don't believe the theory? There are two Canadians in Dallas as well - Mike Vanderjagt and long snapper Louis-Philippe Ladouceur. Or how about Canadians Brett Romberg and Rob Meier in Jacksonville? Or O. J. Atogwe and Tom Nutten with the Rams? Canadians seem to come in twos these days.

Most of these guys are not household football names, but there's no denying an increasing flavor of Canadiana in the NFL. It isn't a coincidence either; it stems from a much more fluid relationship bewteen the National Football League and the Canadian Football League (CFL). These days, the CFL has become a much more respectable place for an NFL player to go and hone their skills for a season or two before taking another crack at the NFL.

So back to the Redskins. If one Canadian is good and two is exceptional, what would three be? Three Canadians? Well, sort of; Jonta Woodward is also at Redskins training camp, and although he is American-born and went to Louisville, he has played his most recent football for the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the CFL. He is poised to make a solid run at winning one of the backup offensive tackle positions, and at the very least, he has Canadian connections.

Kerry Carter was a special teams regular in Seattle, and the Redskins need some special teams help. Coach Gibbs places tremendous importance on trying to give Danny Smith the tools he needs to make special teams sucessful; so if Carter can win Smith's heart, he may have a chance.

Lumsden would have likely made a great H-Back prospect in last year's system, but his unique athleticism and size may allow him to win a few looks at fullback in Al Saunders' system. Mike Sellers will likely carry the load at fullback, but will there be a roster spot for depth at the position too? The Redskins have fan favorite Rock Cartwright to play fullback, but he may be a little under-sized to carry fulltime blocking assignments. The Redskins also have 2005 draft picks Manuel White and Nehemiah Broughton who can play a pure fullback role, but White spent last year on injured reserve, and it remains to be seen what he will bring to the table. Nemo showed a fair bit of promise last year, but that was at running back, how will he do at fullback?

If Lumsden can show good blocking skills in the preseason, it will definitely help his cause. There would be added value in him being able to back up both fullback and running back. Add to that, his ability to return kickoffs and play special teams, and there will be opportunities for the former Canadian intercollegiate football star. Jesse certainly has no intention of failing; he emphatically told the Hamilton Spectator last week that, "I'm going to make the team. I'm going down and I'm not coming back until the off-season."

It's very positive for Canadian kids that are interested in football, to see that they can make it all the way to the greatest stage of them all. It will only serve to strengthen their resolve, and continue this 'huge' flux of grid iron talent into the NFL.

The Canadians are coming, you can bet your back bacon on it.

-Mark Solway
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