Charleston Hughes to play for Riders after being charged with impaired driving

CFL sack leader Charleston Hughes will play Saturday when the Saskatchewan Roughriders visit the Calgary Stampeders.

Head coach/GM Chris Jones told reporters in Regina on Thursday that Hughes, who has a CFL-best 15 sacks this season, will suit up against his former team. Earlier this week, news surfaced that Hughes had been arrested and charged Oct. 11 with impaired driving and failing to provide a breath sample for analysis.

The veteran rush end, who led the CFL in sacks in 2013 and 2016, played in Saskatchewan’s 31-0 loss to Winnipeg two days later, registering two tackles.

“We’re still gathering information concerning the event that happened,” Jones said. “Whether we get it from the league or we get it from the people here in town we’ve got to gather all the information before we start deciding what to do.”

On Wednesday, Jones said he’d received details the day before concerning the incident. Jones added he discussed the matter with Hughes and would continue to do so. Jones said the CFL doesn’t have a code of conduct so the Riders would handle the matter internally.

“As an organization and me personally, it’s an unfortunate event,” Jones said. “It’s something we take very seriously and Charleston knows the situation and the magnitude of it.”

Hughes, 34, met with reporters Wednesday following the Riders’ closed practice and apologized publicly to his teammates, club officials and fans. The six-foot-one, 246-pound Hughes, twice a Grey Cup champion, played his first 10 CFL seasons with Calgary before being traded in February to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Ticat then flipped the four-time league all-star to the Riders and he’s started every game this season for Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan (10-6) is currently second in the West Division, four points behind front-running Calgary (12-3). Both teams have secured playoff berths but are coming off losses. The Riders dropped a 31-0 decision to Winnipeg last week while the B.C. Lions handed the Stampeders their first home loss, 26-21.

Calgary’s loss came after a close 12-6 road win over the Montreal Alouettes (3-12) the week before. And on Aug. 19, Saskatchewan handed the Stampeders their first defeat of the season, a 40-17 decision at Mosaic Stadium.

“What’s amazing to me is all the people that all of a sudden are writing the Calgary Stampeders off,” Jones said. “You don’t do the things they’ve done over the course of a decade or more without being a tremendous football team.

“We’ve moved on from Winnipeg, our focus is strictly Calgary. It’s going to be a challenge to go to their place because they don’t lose too many at home.”

And Jones doesn’t put much stock in the Riders’ earlier win this season over Calgary.

“They’ve got the film to,” he said. “So the things we did well I’m sure they’re going to have counters for.

“We’ve got to have counters for their counters.”

A road win or tie would give Calgary top spot in the West Division – and home field in the conference final Nov. 18 – for a third straight year and fourth time in five years. Saskatchewan would earn a home playoff game with a win and B.C. loss or tie Friday night against Edmonton.

Jones said playing meaningful games down the stretch is a fun time of year.

“The last few games have been fun,” he said. “You never like being beat 31-0 but you sure like going over to Winnipeg and competing in front of their crowd.

“We’ve got a lot of really good guys that put in a really good week of work and the preparation is there so it will be interesting to see who gets on the airplane. You can’t just make a guy step up so we’ll see exactly who steps in and decides to say some things but not only say them but do them.”

-CP

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