The Saskatchewan Roughriders have put a handful of Canadian players on the six-game injured list.
The players involved include 2016 No. 1 overall pick offensive lineman Josiah St. John, receiver Jake Harty, linebackers Kevin Francis and Brandyn Bartlett and kicker Tyler Crapigna.
St. John is nursing an injured lower-body injury believed to be a hamstring. That diminishes the depth of the Riders national offensive lineman even more, especially after cutting Peter Dyakowski, who started 18 games last season, in April. Brendon LaBatte, Dan Clark, Dariusz Bladek are the only Canadian blockers on the active roster to begin the season, which would appear to indicate Saskatchewan is going to start two Canucks and three Americans up front.
Harty tore his ACL early in training camp and will be out for the entire season.
Francis and Bartlett are two key national special teams contributors. And Francis has starting experience on defence. But the Riders have depth at Canadian linebacker. Cameron Judge should be a starter at linebacker, Sam Hurl provides experience, Adrian Clarke is underrated and junior Cody Peters played well enough to beat out Alexandre Gagne and Alexandre Chevrier for an active roster spot.
But the most noteworthy of all might be Crapigna because it means Brett Lauther, who hasn’t kicked a regular season field goal since 2013 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, enters the 2018 season as the Riders kicker. He went 6-of-10 with a long of 40 yards with the Ticats five years ago. And in the pre-season, Lauther made 5-of-5 with a long of 55 yards, clearly impressing special teams coach Craig Dickenson.