After dealing with injury, veteran receivers Kyran Moore and Shaq Evans are returning to the Saskatchewan Roughriders lineup ahead of the team’s Week 12 game against the B.C. Lions.
“It’s been a long nine months, so just being out here, being able to practice means everything to me,” said Moore after practice this week at Mosaic Stadium.
The five-foot-ten, 165-pound target has not played with the team since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee last October.
“I was telling Shaq, it’s like the first day of school, I had butterflies in my stomach. Coming out here doing something I’ve been doing my whole life, it felt brand new, but it was all good when I got out here,” said Moore.
The 25-year-old made 64 receptions for 585 yards and three touchdowns over 11 games in 2021. The Bessemer, Alabama native has made 174 catches for 2,056 yards and 10 touchdowns since joining the Riders in 2018.
“It was real tough for me because I never get hurt,” said Moore. “I’ve never been in a training room, only little bumps and bruises, but as far as getting hurt, major injury or especially going into a night of surgery, I’d never come close.”
Observing the team from the sidelines this season, Moore believes Saskatchewan isn’t playing with “enough energy” at times, something he believes he can bring to the Green and White with his return.
Evans believes a lack of consistency is another factor for the team this season. The offence hasn’t been able to get in a rhythm because of injury and having the coronavirus spread throughout the locker room. With star receiver Duke Williams out for at least a week with a hip injury and starting running back Jamal Morrow out for six-to-eight-weeks with a broken hand, consistency could remain an issue for the team.
Moore’s absence was much longer than Evans, but he still missed a significant amount of playing time. The six-foot-one, 210-pound receiver left the team’s Week 3 game in the first quarter playing the Montreal Alouettes after fracturing his ankle.
“Being out for the last six games, the last eight-to-nine weeks it’s been tough mentally, but I went through it last year so it was a little easier. I’m happy to be back out here with guys and help contribute to win a football game.”
The Inglewood, California native has had his fair share of injuries in his last two seasons with the Riders. In 2021, he broke his leg in Week 2 and did not return until Week 12. Evans ended the season with 25 receptions for 224 yards and no touchdowns. This season Evans has caught 10 passes for 185 yards.
“It’s been tough because anybody who knows me knows how hard I work in the offseason to prepare myself for a successful season,” said Evans.
“I felt like I would have been an all-star last year and I would have been an all-star this year if it weren’t for injury. It’s tough to always deal with that because you always think of that stuff in the back of your mind, but I try to keep that out of my mind as much as possible because there’s nothing you can do about that.”
The 31-year-old has been with the team since 2018 when he started his CFL career. Evans’ most notable season was in 2019 when he was named a CFL all-star after catching 72 passes for 1,334 yards and five touchdowns. He finished fourth in the league in receiving that year.
After the team’s Week 11 game, head coach Craig Dickenson said the receivers looked depleted and lacked explosiveness, so having these two veteran players back could help with the Riders’ offensive struggles.
“We’re hopeful that those two will give us a little juice and I think they’re excited to be out there,” said Dickenson. “I thought they both looked pretty good, rusty for sure, but both look like their bodies are coming back.”