Just days before the start of training camp, the Saskatchewan Roughriders defence has suffered a devastating blow.
Prized free agent acquisition and projected starting middle linebacker Larry Dean has torn his Achilles, per sources. That injury could potentially end his 2021 season before it even began. Dean was working out at Mosaic Stadium and started to run. That’s when he heard a pop and the worst fears were realized.
The 32-year-old Dean started 17 games at middle linebacker for the Edmonton Football Team in 2019, registering 86 defensive tackles, eight tackles for loss, three special teams tackles, one quarterback sack and four pass knockdowns. For his efforts, Dean was named a West Division all-star and Edmonton’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
The six-foot, 226-pound native of Tifton, GA has appeared in 72 career CFL games with 69 starts at middle linebacker over four seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2016-2018) and EE Football Team (2019). He’s made 365 defensive tackles, 16 pass knock downs, 13 tackles for loss, eight special teams tackles, six quarterback sacks, six fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles, three interceptions, and scored one defensive touchdown on an interception return.
Dean is a three-time divisional all-star in 2017, 2018, 2019 and was the East Division’s nominee for Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2018.
Prior to his arrival in the CFL, the Valdosta State University product appeared in 61 career NFL games with the Minnesota Vikings (2011-2013) and Buffalo Bills (2014), registering 37 defensive tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. In 2012, Dean was one of only 11 special teams players on the NFC’s Pro Bowl ballot.
Dean had rejoined the Tiger-Cats on a one-year contract ahead the cancelled 2020 season, but jumped to Saskatchewan without ever playing another game for his old club. He called the move “the best business decision” for himself and his family, signing a deal worth $120,000 in hard money.
Riders’ general manager Jeremy O’Day has had his eyes on Dean since the linebacker’s time in the NFL, but now will be without his services. The injury leaves a gaping hole in Saskatchewan’s linebacking corps, already weakened by the departure of Cameron Judge and the retirement of Solomon Elimimian.