Shaq Evans sees the numbers and knows the Riders are ‘missing the big play as an offence’

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

It’s clear to Shaq Evans what the Saskatchewan Roughriders are lacking on offence.

“The numbers speak for itself: we’re missing the big play as an offence. I can help with that, proving what I did last season and a little bit this season,” Evans said.

No. 1 in green and white was the best deep ball target in the league during the 2019 season. He averaged 18.5 yards per reception, which topped all qualified players, and led the CFL with 15 catches of 30 or more yards.

“I feel like I’m a valuable piece of this offence. At any level in any sport, basketball, football, baseball, when you lose a starter and a guy that contributes a lot it’s always going to hurt. I feel like our offence did take a little bit of a step back,” Evans said.

Evans has been out since Saturday, August 14 when he was hurt on Cody Fajardo’s touchdown run early in Saskatchewan’s Week 2 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He was making a block near the sideline when Ticats linebacker Simoni Lawrence fell on his leg, causing him to go down awkwardly.

“I’m expecting to play. The way I feel and how much I’m itching to play, I don’t see why I shouldn’t,” Evans said.

“I feel like I can bring an element of leadership and energy that we haven’t been up to par with, we need that spark and I’m an intense guy on the field.”

The 30-year-old has been on the six-game injured list and missed seven games while recovering from a broken foot. The Riders have gone 3-4 without Evans in the lineup and are currently 5-4 through nine games, second place in the West Division.

“It’s human nature: everyone wants to feel wanted, everyone wants to feel needed in their profession or their lives or in their relationships. Watching the games live from the sideline you know I could’ve made this play or did this,” Evans said.

The speedy Evans can provide a boost to the offence along with prized free agent signing Duke Williams. Head coach Craig Dickenson stated his team is planning on playing both all-star targets in Week 12 against the Calgary Stampeders.

“He definitely brings a big play element to our offence. A guy that brings great energy, he’s intense and I love his game,” Evans said. “I remember him back in my rookie year in 2018 he had an excellent season. He’s definitely a guy that’s proven in this league, he’s hungry to come up here and contribute.”

Even though Evans estimated he’s at 90 percent and has another level to go before he’s completely healthy, playing is too enticing. He’s watched Saskatchewan drop two straight to the Stamps and isn’t about to helplessly watch from the bench again.

“I’m ready to attack this week and give it to Calgary.”

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.