Saskatchewan Roughriders’ head coach Craig Dickenson is concerned that veteran defensive backs Ed Gainey and Loucheiz Purifoy will be unavailable for Saturday’s Banjo Bowl due to injury.
“We’re concerned about those guys who weren’t at practice today,” said Dickenson via videoconference. “We’re hoping that we can get them back and running around on day three. If not, we’ve got a little bit of juggling to do.”
Gainey did not participate in practice on Wednesday due to a foot injury, while Purifoy was limited due to a neck injury. The veterans have started in all four games this season at defensive halfback with Gainey recording two interceptions, including one in the Labour Day Classic.
Dickenson feels there’s a chance the duo could still play if they’ve made enough progress by Thursday’s practice, but admitted that seems unlikely.
“We’ll see what happens tomorrow but we could be a little thin in the back end if they don’t heal up quick,” said the head coach.
Rookie defensive backs Christion Campbell and Damon Webb would be the two top candidates to start in place of the veterans. Neither player has ever dressed for a CFL game as they are currently on the practice roster.
Dickenson is optimistic that the young cover men will step up if given the opportunity to play against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
“That’s football. It is next-man-up mentality. It always has been and always will be,” he said. “This is how you find stars — a lot of guys start their careers on the practice roster, all of a sudden play, and their careers take off. We feel we’ve got a good PR and we feel like every one of those guys will get a chance to play at some point this season and it looks like it might come true.”
On the positive side, the Riders expecting that defensive tackle Micah Johnson will return to the starting lineup after missing last week’s game. The three-time CFL all-star missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and his absence was noticeable as Andrew Harris rushed for 95 yards on 18 carries.
“We think he’s going to be alright,” said Dickenson. “He’s feeling better and he’s feeling like he improved from last week, so we’ll see how he does tomorrow but we’re on track to play Micah J this week.”