GASSON: Forget Hughes, Riders injuries are a big problem

So, it was another one of those weeks in Riderville, eh?

Losing a game to a division rival 31-0 this late in the season was more than enough to get tongues wagging across Saskatchewan. Just a few days after that embarrassing loss that raised plenty of questions about this team ahead of their last two games of the regular season, that almost feels like the least of the team’s worries right now.

Not only did the Riders get thoroughly beat by the Bombers, but we’ve also learned they’ve lost defensive lineman Mic’hael Brooks and offensive lineman Dariusz Bladek for the season, centre Dan Clark is out this week and Chris Jones wasn’t ready to say if the Regina product would return this season.

Oh, and potential MOP candidate Charleston Hughes has been charged with impaired driving and after initially saying he’d play, the Riders now say he will miss this week’s key matchup against the Stamps

What was the score of that game again? Those were simpler times.

While that charge Hughes is now facing is serious, it shouldn’t affect his ability to play the rest of this season. The real adversity this team is facing now is the loss of two, potentially three, linemen on either side of the ball.

Under Jones, the Riders have been pretty lucky the last couple of seasons when it comes to the injury bug. Sure, they’ve had some injuries here or there like anybody else but for the most part, they’ve been able to avoid a rash of serious injuries.

That changed in a hurry on Saturday afternoon.

Bladek quickly surpassed Josiah St. John, who the coaches didn’t feel comfortable enough to put out there ahead of a player they had just acquired via trade and had practised once with his new team. If Clark doesn’t return this season? Then questionable depth is only going to get worse.

Brooks is an underrated part of the defence as his work in the middle has let Jones rush just three or four on most plays, his work against the run has also been strong. He missed the Labour Day Classic and we saw how that opened up Andrew Harris that day. As we saw against Winnipeg, the offence being what it is means the defence can’t afford any hiccups.

These injuries couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Riders. It’s going to make their final two games more of a challenge than they already were. All of a sudden, a home playoff game went from a lock to a big question mark.

If there’s something for Rider Nation to grasp at right now? When the Riders world is turned upside down, they usually find a way to win and finding ways to win is something this team has done all year.

They need to do it again.

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