RB A.J. Ouellette, new additions set to bring the thunder in Riders’ season opener

Courtesy: CFL

The Saskatchewan Roughriders will debut a new head coach in Corey Mace and a new look roster when they take to the field on Saturday afternoon for the season opener.

All-star running back A.J. Ouellette headlines the offensive additions, bringing the bruising downhill style that allowed him to rack up 1,009 yards and eight touchdowns for the Argonauts last season. The man they call “Thor” won’t be alone in dropping the hammer in the backfield, however, as rookie Clint Ratkovich will get the start at fullback and get a chance to live up to his “super-back” reputation from college.

Veteran quarterback Trevor Harris will be making his return to the lineup after suffering a tibial plateau fracture last season and will have all-star right tackle Jermarcus Hardrick protecting him after he came over from Winnipeg in free agency. The other side is a little less certain, with rookie Trevor Reid set to make his first career start at left tackle.

Shawn Bane Jr, Kian Schaffer-Baker, and Samuel Emilus all return to the Riders’ receiving corps, as does second-year man Jerreth Sterns, who earned a full-time starting role after catching 44 passes for 449 yards and a touchdown last year. Former NFL sixth-round draft pick KeeSean Johnson rounds out the starting group and will make his CFL debut.


Defensively, former Ticat defensive end Malik Carney will join the existing unit of Micah Johnson, Anthony Lanier II, and Bryan Cox Jr. up front. Fellow free agent addition Jameer Thurman will command the middle of the defence, while rookie C.J. Avery gets the nod at weak-side linebacker.

DaMarcus Fields will be the newcomer in the secondary, getting the start at field halfback. Canadian Nelson Lokombo, the team’s second overall pick in the 2020 CFL Draft, has won the starting job at field corner.

Veteran defensive back Amari Henderson (Achilles) will begin the year on the one-game injured list, as will fellow DB Rodney Clemons Jr. (Achilles) and fullback Bruno Labelle (leg). Four Canadian players have been placed on the six-game injured list in defensive back Jaxon Ford (wrist), linebacker Nick Wiebe (knee), offensive lineman Noah Zerr (thumb), and receiver Dhel Duncan-Busby (hand).

Veteran American defensive back Marcus Sayles, who joined the team earlier this week after being cut by the B.C. Lions, will be a healthy scratch, as will rookie Canadian receiver Ajou Ajou and rotational American defensive tackle Miles Brown.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders (0-0) will visit the Edmonton Elks (0-0) on Saturday, June 8 at Commonwealth Stadium with kickoff slated for 4:00 p.m. EDT. The opposing depth chart can be found here.

Graphic courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders