Riders’ REC Kian Schaffer-Baker makes much-anticipated return, QB Jake Dolegala named starter vs. Lions

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders will have their star Canadian receiver back in the line-up ahead of schedule when they face the B.C. Lions on Sunday.

Kian Schaffer-Baker is set to make his return after missing the first 10 weeks of the season while recovering from an offseason hip surgery. The six-foot-four, 205-pound pass catcher is coming off a season that saw him set career highs in catches, yards and touchdowns when he snagged 68 balls for 960 yards and five scores.

The 25-year-old finished the season with 412 yards after catch, good for 11th in the league and second among Canadian pass catchers. He also ran the ball 13 times for 74 yards and was the team’s Most Outstanding Rookie in 2021 and Most Outstanding Canadian in 2022.

Schaffer-Baker was selected by the Roughriders in the fourth round, 30th overall, in the 2020 CFL Draft and first drew into the line-up in Week 3 of the 2021 season. He played all 12 of the remaining regular season games that season and made 45 receptions for 550 yards and two touchdowns. He added another 43 yards and one touchdown in the post-season.

Unfortunately, the addition of the team’s top pass catcher from a year ago could be cold comfort to a Riders’ offence hurting in other areas. The team has officially placed quarterback Mason Fine (knee) on the six-game injured list after he went down in the second quarter of last week’s game, joining face of the franchise Trevor Harris on the shelf.

Third-stringer Jake Dolegala will make his first start of the season after connecting on 11-of-20 passes for 107 yards and an interception a week ago. He has started just one other game in his professional career, completing 16-of-35 pass attempts for 154 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in a loss to Toronto last year.

Shea Patterson remains on the roster to backup, while the recently acquired Antonio Pipkin will dress as the team’s third quarterback.

Dolegala will not have the luxury of targeting veteran American receiver Jake Wieneke in his 2023 debut, as he has been placed on the one-game injured list despite not appearing on this week’s injury report. Homegrown receiver Mitch Picton will suit up in a depth role.

Defensively, Canadian linebackers Matt Dean and Brian Harelimana have been moved to the practice roster, while American T.J. Brunson draws into the lineup.

The Riders (4-5) will host the Lions (7-2) on Sunday, August 20 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. The two clubs have met once this season, with B.C. earning a 19-9 victory in Week 7.

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders