Craig Dickenson: Riders released Garrett Marino after his undisciplined play became a ‘distraction’

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

Saskatchewan Roughriders’ head coach Craig Dickenson believes his team made a tough but necessary decision when they released controversial defensive tackle Garrett Marino earlier this week.

“He got fined, he got suspended and he was getting warned again. After a while, it wears you down a little bit and we felt like it was starting to become a distraction,” Dickenson told the media in Regina. “This was our decision and I felt like we did the best we could to try to give him a second chance, even a third chance. He just wasn’t able to turn it around.”

The six-foot-two, 290-pound defensive tackle was suspended for four games earlier this season following an illegal hit on Ottawa Redblacks’ quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and promised to play smarter upon his return. He had since been fined for an illegal hit on B.C. Lions’ offensive lineman Peter Godber when he hit Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ quarterback Zach Collaros during Sunday’s Labour Day Classic after the veteran passer had already gotten rid of the football.

Dickenson acknowledged that Marino’s hit on Collaros was “unnecessary” and believes the 28-year-old was simply incapable of passing up certain opportunities to strike opponents. He also said the hit wasn’t the primary reason for Marino’s release, instead blaming his overall pattern of behaviour.

“That’s how Garrett’s wired. When he sees the other colour, he hits it. He doesn’t know half the time if it’s quarterback, running back, o-lineman — he sees a jersey of a different colour, he hits it. That’s why he’s so darn good and disruptive, but it is also a dangerous way to play and eventually, it gets you in trouble,” said Dickenson.

Photo courtesy: CFL

The Riders have been the least disciplined team in the CFL this season, committing an average of 10.1 penalties for 89.7 yards per game. Dickenson said the decision to release Marino was made irrespective of the team’s penalty problems as he plans to deal with those separately.

“I don’t believe in sending messages, I really don’t. I think you try to do the best you can with each person individually. If it sends a message subconsciously, great — hopefully it sends the right message that the team’s more important than the individual. But I don’t believe in sending a message and the Garrett thing wasn’t designed to do that,” said Dickenson.

“We wish Garrett the best. Hopefully, he lands on his feet somewhere and is able to change what he needs to change and do things a little differently than he’s done in his past but we wish him all the best.”

Three offensive linemen appeared on Saskatchewan’s injury report on Wednesday as Terran Vaughn is dealing with a lingering hamstring injury and a tooth problem, while Josiah St. John was a limited participant in practice (thigh) and Logan Ferland did not participate (back).

The Riders (6-6) are scheduled to visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-1) for the 18th annual Banjo Bowl on Saturday, Sept. 10 with kickoff slated for 5:00 p.m. EDT.