One more tune-up game for the Saskatchewan Roughriders before the season starts for real.
The green and white are Alberta-bound as they close their pre-season against the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Normally in this spot, I’d be writing about six things to watch during the game. However, since TSN isn’t picking this one up and neither team is streaming the game online (which is absurd, but that’s another story for another day), we’ll have to settle for some old fashioned radio broadcasts to get our information on this one, unless you happen to be in attendance in Edmonton.
You can find the full Riders depth chart at the bottom of the page.
Six things to listen for:
- Darian Durant: This game will mark the first time Darian Durant will be under centre for the Riders since blowing his Achilles tendon late in the first half of last year’s season opener against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. By all accounts, Durant has been just fine all training camp and has been moving around with ease. This game is also the only chance Durant will get to warm up with the offence in a game situation before the season begins after he sat out last week’s game against the B.C. Lions.
- B.J. Coleman, Brett Smith and Phillip Sims: Last week’s effort against the Lions left a lot to be desired when it came to the backup quarterbacks. With another week under their belts, someone is going to have to step up to put Rider Nation at ease. If no one steps up there will be serious questions about the depth behind Durant heading into the season.
- Defensive pressure: Last week the Riders defence showed they could get some pressure on the quarterbacks and we all know getting to the pivot is the staple of Chris Jones’ defence. “Newcomer” Johnathan Williams, who finally officially signed with the team this week, will start at defensive tackle. That push up the middle is something the Riders lacked last year and will need to improve on to open up room for the guys on the edge.
- Curtis Steele vs Terrance Cobb: Steele appears to the guy heading into the final pre-season game but don’t count Cobb out just yet. So far, this running back battle has shaped up like it did in 2012. That year, veteran Brandon West was the presumed favourite for the starting job before a serious push from former NFLer Kory Sheets. Sheets didn’t start either pre-season game but we all know how that story ended. This time, Cobb could be playing the role of Sheets.
- The kicking: It’s been a good camp so far for all three kickers on the roster meaning a tough choice could be ahead for Jones and company. Jones called Tyler Crapigna one of the most accurate young kickers he’s seen earlier this week. Quinn Van Gylswyk could eventually give the team roster flexibility by doing all three and Josh Bartel seems to have returned to the CFL with a stronger leg and a more focused mind. The good news is having too many options is a good problem to have.
- The reaction: This game will mark the first time Chris Jones returns to Edmonton since leaving the Eskimos for his new job in Saskatchewan. You could call this game the warm up act to his first regular season return on July 8. The players are probably over it but how the fans will react to Jones running onto the turf at Commonwealth with the Riders could be interesting.
Roster notes: OL Chris Best, LB Jeff Knox Jr. and DL Dylan will not play.