Riders’ head coach Craig Dickenson considering multiple replacements following ‘big’ loss of receiver Shaq Evans

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders are considering multiple replacements for injured star receiver Shaq Evans.

“We had a couple of guys out there today — Dieuly (Aristilde Jr.) and we had Tevin Jones,” head coach Craig Dickenson told the media on Tuesday. “It’s gonna be a mix of those two and if we don’t feel like those two can do it, we’ll change our ratio and we’ll have a third Canadian receiver.”

Jones caught five passes for 41 yards during the preseason following a six-year stint in the NFL as a member of the Houston Texans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, and Jacksonville Jaguars. He dressed for five games as a member of the Steelers in 2019 and made four receptions for 61 yards.

Aristilde was also effective during the preseason and recorded two catches for 32 yards and a touchdown. The six-foot-four, 215-pound target split his collegiate career between Eastern Michigan and Bethel University and signed his first professional contract with the Riders in May 2022.

“They both are really keen to learn. They both want to be good and they want to put the work in, so you don’t have to worry about that. It’s just there’s a lot of learning and they’re both rookies to the CFL, so we’ll see. I’ll talk to the coaches after watching film tonight, see how they did and tomorrow’s a big day,” said Dickenson.

Evans suffered a broken ankle in Saskatchewan’s 37-13 loss to the Montreal Alouettes this past week. He made ten catches for a team-leading 185 yards through three games this season and was targeted a team-high 21 times.

The six-foot-one, 210-pound target is no stranger to rehabilitating serious injuries. He missed seven games in 2021 after suffering a broken foot against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Week 2, sitting out from mid-August to late-October.

“It’s a big one. It’s a big one emotionally, too. The good news is it’s not for the whole season. He’ll be out for six to eight (weeks) and we hope when he gets back he’s ready to roll,” said Dickenson.

Duke Williams has made nine receptions for 159 yards and a touchdown through three games this season and should take on an even bigger role in the offence while Evans is out. Dickenson understands that teams will be paying extra attention to Williams over the coming weeks, though he believes that could work to the advantage of the club’s other receivers.

“I think there’s going to be a few more eyes on him both from our quarterback looking at him and the defence probably keying him. But football is the ultimate team game and you can take one guy away. If you do that, there’s other guys open. I expect Duke’s gonna get plenty of touches — hopefully he has a big game, but if they decide they want to take Duke away, we’ve got 11 other guys who can hopefully make plays,” said Dickenson.

Deep-threat receiver Kyran Moore remains out with a torn ACL that he suffered late last season and it doesn’t appear as though he’ll be back anytime soon. The five-foot-ten, 165-pound target made 64 receptions for 585 yards and three touchdowns over 11 starts at slotback in 2021.

“I don’t think he’s as close as we’d like,” said Dickenson. “I don’t know off the top of my head but it looks like it’s going to be a while still.”