The CFL saw some game action for the first time in 2012 Wednesday night, and the first round of preseason games had plenty of offence, with the Toronto Argonauts besting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 29-24 and the B.C. Lions downing the Saskatchewan Roughriders 44-10. Of course, in the preseason, how players perform is generally much more notable than the final score. To that end, here are five players who stood out amongst the crowd Wednesday.
—Mike Reilly, quarterback, B.C. Lions: Some questioned the Lions' decision to let veteran backup Jarious Jackson leave for Toronto in the offseason and elevate Reilly from third-string to the primary backup to Travis Lulay, but the former Central Washington quarterback suggested that he can handle the CFL game with his showing in the Lions' blowout win. Reilly doesn't have much of a CFL track record and didn't see a snap during the season last year, but he shone in last year's preseason action and continued that trend this year, completing 16 of 24 passes (66.7 per cent) for 189 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Impressive. A quarterback's stats aren't in a void, and Reilly was largely facing a second-string (or worse) defence, but he didn't have all of B.C.'s stars at his disposal either. Even in context, that's a solid effort.
—Cory Boyd, running back, Toronto Argonauts: Boyd followed up his dominant 2010 campaign (1,359 rushing yards, 6 yards per carry, six rushing touchdowns, 363 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns) with a strong 2011 one, where he recorded 1,141 rushing yards and six touchdowns while improving his rushing average to 6.1 yards per carry. It looks like Boyd will be set to follow that success this season; although he only received five carries and picked up 10 rushing yards Wednesday, he made them count, recording two touchdowns. He also looked solid as a receiver out of the backfield (an area where his game took a bit of a step back in 2011), and hauled in one pass for nine yards. Like most starters, Boyd didn't see a lot of touches in this game, but he took advantage of his opportunities and gave the Argonauts some crucial points, and that bodes well for what he can do this year.
—Justin Harper, receiver, Saskatchewan Roughriders: The Riders didn't cover themselves in glory Wednesday, but Harper was reasonably impressive, pulling in three passes for a team-high 38 yards. He has a solid football background both with Virginia Tech and the Baltimore Ravens, and he's gone through some tough adversity over the years, including being on campus during the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings. He could be a key contributor in the Riders' receiving corps this season.
—James Berezik, running back, Hamilton Tiger-Cats: Grand Valley State product Berezik was only signed last week, and he hasn't received a lot of publicity in the race to replace the injured Martell Mallett, which is likely to mostly feature Ticats' veteran Avon Cobourne (brought back following Mallett's injury, he didn't play Wednesday) and rookie Chevon Walker (who had six carries for an impressive 62 yards Wednesday). However, while Berezik's stats weren't quite as eye-popping as Walker's (nine carries for 61 yards), he looked pretty impressive out there for a recently-signed CFL rookie and did enough to keep earning carries. It's unlikely he'll be the team's starting RB when the regular season rolls around, but he might be in the mix for a roster spot.
—Nick Moore, receiver, B.C. Lions: The Toledo product may have come into this game at a disadvantage in the crowded battle for Lions' receiving spots, but he may have made the team's decisions of who to keep out of that group even tougher, hauling in four passes for a team-high 77 yards and two touchdowns. Moore only caught five passes last season, but if he performs at this level and is able to stick with the team, he might just show off some more of the ability he put in display Wednesday.