QB Trevor Harris to miss Riders’ first preseason game for birth of third child

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Trevor Harris is living up to his billing as the new franchise quarterback of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but most of Rider Nation will have to wait a little longer than expected to see him.

Speaking to fans as part of the team’s State of the Nation panel on Saturday, head coach Craig Dickenson revealed that Harris would likely play sparingly in the team’s Green and White scrimmage and not at all during the team’s first preseason game. The majority of reps will go to the three players competing for the backup position — Mason Fine, Jake Dolegala, and Shea Patterson — for one very specific reason.

“The majority of reps today will be those three guys, the majority of reps in the first preseason game will be those three as well because our starting quarterback, Mr. Harris, is having a baby so he won’t be there for the first game,” Dickenson revealed. “That’s why he won’t be there for the first one but he will be there for the second.”

Harris is scheduled to depart from training camp ahead of the team’s preseason opener against the B.C. Lions on Saturday, May 27 in order to be with his wife for the birth of their third child. For Dickenson, his absence has a silver lining.

“The nice thing about this training camp is Trevor gets to welcome a new baby to the family and he’s gone for about four days. So those four days, we get a chance to see really what these other quarterbacks can do,” the coach explained.

“I will say with (GM Jeremy O’Day) and (president Craig Reynolds), we’ve done a deep dive into last year and really tried to dissect what went wrong and how can we learn from that. I think one thing we did learn is we do have to give our number twos and threes a little more reps, a little more action, so that if we do need them that they feel like they at least had enough practice to be successful.”

That’s been a focus for the team even while Harris has been present in Saskatoon. While the prized free agent signing is regarded as the potential catalyst for a Riders resurgence in 2023, Dickenson has been playing a difficult balancing act to ensure the 36-year-old receives enough time under centre to be successful without stunting the growth of others.

“Trevor’s already come in to meet twice and asked if he could have more reps in camp and I’ve said no both times,” he chuckled. “It’s a tricky one this year because we’ve got a new quarterback, a new offensive coordinator, a new system, so we’re going to try to give Trevor as many reps as we can to get him comfortable and at that point, we will definitely start looking at getting our number two and our number three some reps.”

Harris will have to wait until June 2nd in Winnipeg for his reps to come against real competition, but Dickenson was quick to reassure fans that the 10-year veteran has come as advertised. He has been impressive during the early portion of camp and will not suffer from a few days away.

“Trevor is as good as we thought he would be and maybe even a little better. He’s really something else,” the coach raved. “Super mature guy, understands football. You don’t have to tell him much, he’s been out there and done such a good job with game management. You don’t even have to tell him the situation, you just tell him there’s 1:30 on the clock and he already knows what we’re gonna do.”

The Riders’ other quarterbacks will kick off the exhibition action in exactly one week at 7:00 p.m. EDT at Mosaic Stadium.