Canadian receiver Justin McInnis draws into Riders starting lineup with Mitchell Picton ‘banged up’

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have decided to insert Canadian receiver Justin McInnis into the starting lineup for Mitchell Picton who will be placed on the one-game injured list for Week 10.

It’s the first time McInnis will start since the end of the 2019 season. During 14 games in his rookie year in Canada, the six-foot-five, 210-pound pass catcher made 10 receptions for 149 yards.

“He’s a big long guy, he’s got height, length and he’s a proven player. He played pretty well two years ago when he had the opportunity,” head coach Craig Dickenson said.

“We feel good about all of our Canadian receivers. It’s not a demotion of Mitch Picton, this is just the ability to play the healthier guy in Justin McInnis.”

According to Dickenson, McInnis was “nicked up” early in training camp and when he returned to the practice field re-aggravated a hamstring injury. The Riders feel the 25-year-old has been 100 percent healthy for a while.

“Ever since I got the news, I’ve been feeling like a kid on Christmas. I’m super excited, it’s been since the 2019 season that I stepped on the field. I’m ready to go out there and leave my mark this year,” McInnis said.

“I still have to prove myself, I still have to go out, compete and put a resume together on the field. I gotta do my part in showing them that I was first-round draft worthy.”

Saskatchewan selected McInnis sixth overall in the 2019 CFL Draft. McInnis attended the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans NFL rookie mini-camps, but he was not offered a contract after either one and signed a three-year pact with the Riders.

At Arkansas State University, McInnis finished his NCAA career with back-to-back productive seasons. He caught 49 balls for 800 yards and four touchdowns in 2017 and followed with 61 grabs for 748 yards and five touchdowns as a senior. Over his last 25 games as a Red Wolf, McInnis put up 110 catches for 1,548 yards and 10 touchdowns.

During his Arkansas State pro day, McInnis ran a 4.57 40-yard dash, 4.49 shuttle, 7.05 three-cone, recorded a 10-foot, three-inch broad jump, 38.5-inch vertical and nine reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. That’s the athleticism Saskatchewan believed could help him translate his college production to the pros.

“He’s earned a shot to play and with Picton being a little bit banged up,” Dickenson said, “it happened to work out.”

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