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Veteran OL Derek Dennis among Stampeders cuts ahead of CFL roster deadline

Calgary Stampeders' Derek Dennis is driven off the field with an injury during the first half of CFL football game against the B.C. Lions in Vancouver, on Saturday, September 24, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Veteran offensive tackle Derek Dennis and Canadian kicker Marc Liegghio, both Grey Cup champions, were among the players released Saturday as CFL teams finalized their rosters.

Dennis, the CFL's outstanding lineman in 2016 who helped Calgary win a Grey Cup in 2018, was among 22 players released Saturday by the Stampeders before the 10 p.m. ET league deadline. Liegghio was a part of Winnipeg's 2021 championship team but his blocked field goal try resulted in the Bombers losing 24-23 to the Toronto Argonauts in last year's league finale, was among 25 players let go by the Manitoba club.

Dennis, 34, re-signed with Calgary in the off-season with the intention of 2023 being his final CFL campaign. Dennis made 14 starts in 2022 before suffering a season-ending leg injury, helping the Stampeders allow a league-low 17 sacks and top the league in rushing (135.3 yards per game).

The six-foot-three, 351-pound Dennis has played in six CFL seasons for Calgary and the Saskatchewan Roughriders, appearing in 86 career regular-season games. He won a Grey Cup with the Stamps in 2018.

Calgary also placed veteran Canadian linebacker Jordan Herdman-Reed, national receiver Colton Hunchak and global kicker Toshiki Kato on its practice roster.

Winnipeg selected Liegghio, of Woodbridge Ont. in the fifth round of the '20 CFL draft out of Western Ontario. The 26-year-old was the Bombers' punter in 2021 — when the club won its second straight Grey Cup — but did all three kicking jobs last season.

But in the '22 Grey Cup game, Liegghio's 47-yard field goal in the final minute was blocked by Toronto defensive lineman Robbie Smith, preserving the Argos' upset victory. Liegghio played in 32 career games with the Bombers, making 37-of-47 field goals (78.7 per cent) and 61-of-69 converts (88.4 per cent).

He also had 183 punts, averaging 45.3 yards with a net of 36.1. American Sergio Castillo, who re-signed with Winnipeg during the off-season after being released by the Edmonton Elks, will handle Winnipeg's kicking duties while Australian Jamieson Sheahan will serve as the punter.

The Ottawa Redblacks released 21 players Saturday, including quarterback Jake Dunniway and Canadian punter Jake Julien.

Dunniway completed two passes on two attempts in Ottawa's 34-23 exhibition win on Thursday. Julien, of Barrie, Ont., played for Eastern Michigan University and was a 2021 fourth-round pick of the Redblacks.

Julien wasn't out of work long, signing with Edmonton later Saturday. Julien signed as an undrafted free agent in 2022 with the New England Patriots and suited up for an exhibition game.

Edmonton also released Canadian offensive lineman Jaylan Gutherie and American defensive lineman Christian Rector, who had seven sacks in 19 regular-season games (over two seasons) with the Elks.

Sophomore receiver Papi White was among 21 players released by Hamilton. The five-foot-nine, 170-pound White had 42 catches for 414 yards and a TD in 32 career regular-season contest with the Tiger-Cats.

Toronto made its final roster moves Friday. Quarterback Ben Holmes, who dressed with the team for one game last season, was among 19 players released while Canadian offensive lineman Brandon Noll re-signed with the Argos.

Holmes, 28, also dressed for one game with Edmonton last year. On Friday, Canadian quarterback Michael Beaudry was among five players released by the Elks.

Beaudry, a 25-year-old from Regina, dressed for 10 games with Edmonton last year.

The CFL kicks off its 2023 regular season Thursday night with the B.C. Lions visiting Calgary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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