The B.C. Lions have revealed their depth chart for Friday’s opener against the Saskatchewan Roughriders and they will already be without one of their biggest 2021 free agent signings.
Projected starting running back Shaq Cooper, who joined the team in February as 3DownNation‘s No. 1-ranked free agent ball carrier, has been added to the one-game injured list and will not dress in Week One. The Fort Hays State product started four games last season with the Edmonton Elks and recorded 65 carries for 352 yards and two touchdowns along with 15 receptions for 112 yards.
Cooper remains just 27 and is expected to be his new team’s every-down back in 2021. He’s a speedy one-cut running back who can make an impact as a receiver out of the backfield, but fans will have to wait until at least next week to see it demonstrated.
The five-foot-ten, 190-pound ball carrier was a star over three seasons with the Fort Hays State Tigers (2012, 2015-16). He rushed 456 times for 2,768 yards and 19 touchdowns while making 73 receptions for 736 yards and ten scores.
In Cooper’s absence, fellow first-year Lion James Butler has earned the starting nod. The five-foot-nine, 210-pound back was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Oakland Raiders in 2018 and spent the year on the practice squad. He attended training camp with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2019, but was cut at the end of camp and later returned to the Raiders for another stint on the practice roster.
Butler rushed for a total of 3,316 yards and 27 touchdowns while also adding 49 receptions for 438 yards and three majors over three productive season at the University of Nevada. He transferred to Iowa for his final season, adding 396 yards and a touchdown on 91 carries.