Timing of Trent Richardson’s arrival could be ideal for Riders

Even after he had second thoughts the first time around, the Saskatchewan Roughriders never stopped pursuing running back Trent Richardson.

Back in late August, Richardson had travel plans arranged by the team to fly to Regina and finalize a contract. He had reneged at the time, however, after realizing that all CFL entry-level deals are one year plus a team-held option – essentially two seasons. But the Riders were determined to see what he could do on the big field and further discussions led to Richardson finally getting to Regina and signing on the dotted line.

Richardson’s arrival – sources say he showed up in excellent shape, chiselled as the kids say – might be ideal timing for the Riders.

Cameron Marshall is on the six-game injured list and Saskatchewan’s run game has suffered lately as a result, plus the Riders have a league-low 847 rushing yards. Around the league, there has been a slight shift to running backs who can be just as dangerous as slotbacks catching the football – Andrew Harris and Jeremiah Johnson are prime examples. But as the weather turns, colder temperatures come and the elements play more of a role in late-season and playoff games, personnel men believe there is an advantage to having a power back that gets improved traction just by sheer size.

The Alabama star would fit that mould. Richardson was known for being tough to take down in the SEC, gashing defences regularly. Although, his 3.3-yards-per-carry average in the NFL was a main reason why no NFL teams came with a contract offer after he was released by Baltimore in August 2016.

One bigger back rising to stardom in the CFL currently is James Wilder Jr. He checks in at six-foot-three, 232 pounds and ran a 4.65 40-yard time coming out of the NCAA. Compare that with Richardson, who is built much differently, he’s five-foot-nine, 230 pounds and ran a 4.53 40-yard dash in 2012, the year he was drafted third overall by the Cleveland Browns. Similar size and depending on the shape Richardson is in possibly more or similar speed to Wilder Jr. gives reasons for an up-close look.

Since Marshall had 56 yards on six carries before he got hurt in the Labour Day weekend win over Winnipeg at Mosaic Stadium, the Riders leading rusher has totalled 49, 34 and 12 yards in the last three games, Kienan LaFrance and Brandon Bridge accounted for those numbers.

When dissecting those digits it makes sense that the Riders would bring in a running back that displayed elite talented in college and see what he can do to boost a struggling ground game.

Richarson to the rescue might be early, but staying on the talented back and bringing him in even if it’s for a peek and doesn’t pan out was worth the plane ticket north.

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