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CFL X-Factors: Player Injuries and Roster Depth

To win games in the CFL teams put in a huge investment of time and resources to build a team. The aspects of building a professional football team generally follow a standard process: acquiring talent, player evaluations, building an active roster and practice roster, game plan development, and execution of the game plan in practice and ultimately on game day.

But in the CFL every team faces 18 games over a 21-week regular season with 2 pre-season games, and if teams are lucky, 2 playoff games and the Grey Cup championship. During this time every team faces the task of maintaining a 45-man active roster and a 15-man practice squad roster. Under ideal conditions, the team that the coaching staff builds coming out of pre-season can perform well and give the team a chance to win each week. An additional factor that each team faces is player injuries and the distribution of depth on their roster. This factor is potentially the difference between any team in the CFL qualifying for the playoffs or completely missing the playoffs.


Each week of the season every CFL team must assess its player injury situation and make adjustments based on players they have available on its active roster and practice squad roster. Every injury situation has a different implication with regards to how well a team can adjust. If a team had multiple starting-quality quarterbacks on its roster then an injury to the starting quarterback can be easily overcome.

But if a team only has one starting-quality quarterback on its roster then a team that is playing very well can suddenly fall flat and struggle to produce on the field. Each team in the CFL has strengths and weaknesses based on the philosophy of the coaching staff and how they have built their roster. Injuries can affect any position on the field in any game. This makes player injuries and roster depth a critical aspect of team management throughout a long CFL regular season.


At the beginning of each week of the season, all CFL teams are required to submit injury reports. This affects those teams directly, but these injury reports are used by opponents to predict weaknesses and game plan adjustments. Because of the small roster size, player injuries and team responses to those injuries can determine the performance of a team every week.

A team can start the season with 4 straight wins but if they lose a top player to injury for a week or 6 weeks then suddenly that team can find it difficult to get wins. And on the other side, if a team that has been struggling can stay healthy then it has a chance to turn its season around if its opponents are struggling with injury issues. With this in mind, it is a team that has a balanced roster with good depth at each position has a big advantage over a team that is built around the specific talents of a star player.


Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7

Full coverage of the 2022 season on CFL News Hub.

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