How did I ever manage to survive the offseason? These past 14 Rider-less days have seemed like an eternity. While I’m sure my liver appreciated the break in the otherwise rigorous schedule that is the regular season, the rest of me did not. But the long wait ends tonight when the 6-1 Riders visit the 4-3 Eskimos in front of an expected crowd of over 50,000 (take that Buffalo Bills).
The Riders have had 2 weeks to think about their first loss of the season and the big question is how will they respond?
On the injury front…The bye week did allow Glen January and James Johnson to get healthy enough to play, however this is somewhat offset by the news that Dek Bake (foot) and Tristan Clovis (personal issues) will not be playing. Normally the bye week helps teams decrease the size of their injury list. The best we can do is an even swap of healthy for non-healthy players (though the way the season has been going I guess we should be happy with an even swap).
The injury to Bake means that newcomer Seante (pronounced Shonte) Williams will start in his place. The last time we had someone by that name on the roster it was 2003 when Shonte Peoples was a Rider and about the best thing I can say about him was that he helped form Frontlyne. Hopefully Williams will do better than that. I wonder if Seante has ever thought about adopting the nickname “Big Te” and forming “New Frontlyne”. Neal Hughes could be the new “Nee Deep” and James Johnson could round out there entourage as “2J”. Just something to think about. Now where was I? Oh yes… the game…
The teams come into this game with some interesting matchups. Edmonton has yet to lose at home, while the Riders have yet to lose on the road. Their offense (led by Ricky Ray) is 2nd in the league, while the Riders have the best defense in the league. The Riders boast one the top run defenses in the league… which won’t really be a factor since Edmonton has absolutely no run game (why they’ve even bothered signing an RB the past couple years is beyond me).
Edmonton’s secondary has had its problems so far this season and that was reinforced in their game against BC. In an effort to strengthen the secondary the Esks acquired former Rider Airabin Justin. Now I was always a big fan of Justin’s and think he’s a very talented player. Normally when our opponents pick up a player of this caliber I would be worried, but given that it’s Edmonton, I’m not worried at all. We’re talking about a team that couldn’t make a descent secondary out of perennial all-stars Omarr Morgan and Jordan Younger and the talented Stanford Samuels. Maccioccia’s coaching will more than compensate for Justin’s talent.
Edmonton has a mediocre defense and no run game so there are really only 2 things we need to worry about - Ricky Ray and Tristan Jackson on returns. If we can contain those 2 we will win. Cates will have a big game as long as our receivers can do something to stretch the defense.
Riders by 5 in a very close game. The difference will be a Wes Cates TD.