Riders Linden Gaydosh forced to battle back yet again

Linden Gaydosh is making yet another football comeback.

The six-foot-three, 310-pound defensive tackle has battled injuries throughout his four-year pro football career. And while former NFL quarterback Vince Young has garnered plenty of attention at the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ training camp, Gaydosh is also launching his own return to the field.

“I just want to play ball,” Gaydosh told the Riders’ website. “It’s been tough every time I’ve had it taken away from me and it’s tough every time I want to come back.

“At the end of the day, I want to end my career on my own terms.”

Gaydosh, 26, was selected first overall in the 2013 CFL draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats following a stellar collegiate career at Calgary. Shortly afterwards, Gaydosh signed as a free agent with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers but suffered a season-ending back injury in training camp.

Gaydosh joined the Ticats in 2014 after being released by Carolina and played in Hamilton’s 20-16 Grey Cup loss to Calgary at B.C. Place. But he suffered a torn Achilles tendon during an off-season workout that cost him the 2015 season.

He rejoined the Ticats in 2016 but aggravated the back injury that had sidelined him in Carolina. Gaydosh was on the six-game injured list when Hamilton dealt him, American receiver Tommy Streeter and two ’17 draft picks to Saskatchewan for Canadian defensive lineman Justin Capicciotti and American offensive lineman Xavier Fulton.

“(That injury) wasn’t quite as severe so it didn’t require surgery,” Gaydosh said. “A cortisone shot managed to take out all the inflammation.

“I’ve been symptom-free for the last six months so I’ve been feeling healthy and feeling good.”

But Gaydosh admits the mental strain created by continually having to overcome injury has prompted him to ponder retirement.

“Every time I’ve had a major injury that thought has crossed my mind,” he said. “The first time the back happened, I thought I was done.

“I managed to rehab and come back and then the Achilles happened. Again, I thought I was done. I feel like I’ve been playing on a little bit of a fine line.”

Gaydosh is battling fellow Canadians Makana Henry, Ese Mrabure and Eddie Steele for playing time at defensive tackle with the Riders.

“We know what we’ve got in him,” said Chris Jones, the Riders head coach/GM. “(Trade with Hamilton) was an opportunity to pick up a guy who did have a lot of experience in both leagues.

“He’s maybe even serviceable on the offensive side of the football. He and Eddie Steele, their versatility and leadership, is kind of what you’re looking for.”

Gaydosh just wants another chance to play football.

“It’s great, I love it,” he said. “The Riders traded for me, so they’re someone who wanted me, who believed in me even while I was injured _ and that spoke volumes to me.

“They valued me at that point and would take me, rehab me and build me back to what I was.

“I’m happy to be here, I love the opportunity that I’ve got and I’m just happy to be playing again.”

On Friday, the Riders re-signed veteran international running back Anthony Allen and released American linebacker Gary Wilkins.

Allen had 436 yards rushing on 87 carries (five-yard average) with three TDs last season with the B.C. Lions. Previously, Allen played two years with the Riders (2014-15), running for 1,504 yards on 261 carries (5.76-yard average) with eight touchdowns while adding 48 catches for 314 yards and three TDs.

– CP

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