Months of agonizing football-less months will mercifully come to an end Friday when the Riders open up the 2013 preseason in Edmonton. Sure the game is likely to feature spot appearances by the actual talented players, a couple quarters of the future back-ups and a quarter or so worth of play from people who will soon be unemployed… but I don’t care. It’s Rider football!! It’s like the Simpsons’ quote “I’m so hungry I could eat at Arby’s”.
Predictably a number of vets will not be dressing (which I hope means they won’t be playing as opposed to won’t be wearing clothes). Out are Dressler, Shologan, Simon, Russ, Rey Williams, Picard and Foley. Also appears as though Ricky Schmitt won’t be playing which is odd considering he is actually competing for a roster spot. Coaches must have determined they are comfortable with his punting and want to give the game reps to Milo and McKnight who they are not so comfortable with.
Even though the quality of football might make Bomber football seem palatable by comparison and I could care less if we win here are a few things I will specifically be watching for in this game.
- Durant will get limited action (rightly so) and will not be opening up the new Cortez playbook too much. I hope they use his time to work on some quick hitters and timing routes so Durant can start to get in a grove with his receivers and their routes. As long as he doesn’t pull a Buck Pierce and go 0-5 while getting hit twice, throwing a pick and scaring the coaches so much about your durability that they refuse to play him in the next preseason game, it will be considered a success.
- With Picard resting and Neufeld in a cast, Taman’s last 2 top draft picks will take centre stage. Cory Watman at C and Heenan at tackle. Be interested to see how they fair with live bullets. The plan is clearly for Watman to take over from Picard next year and if Heenan can make the transition to tackle it would be a huge plus.
- I'll be curious to see how John Chick looks in his first taste of CFL action since '09. Doubt he plays much but will still be watching.
- I'll be watching intently what in the blue hell we will be doing with our LBs and secondary. We have been trying people all over the place (Butler and Brown at LB, Brackenridge and Ferri in the secondary). I'm honestly not sure if we are just building versatility or if we plan on randomly moving people between positions on every down just to mess with our opponents.
- Special teams will also be worth watching... but no the returners (I'm assuming Sanders and someone else will fill that role). I'm talking about the blockers and cover guys. With Bell on the 9-game and McCullough headed there that leaves 2 big opportunities for young Cdn talent to make this team based on ST play. Guys like Spencer Moore, Kevin Regimbald-Gagne, Tristan Black (though he doesn't appear to be on tomorrow's roster), etc.. have a chance to make an impression.
- Lastly here are a fee specific new recruits I will be watching LB Brian Peters, DB Ramzee Robinson, DL WIll Davis and the Rider Prophet Endorsed Jose Valdez.
I strongly recommend a nice strong beverage or three to help improve the entertainment value of this game. Its Friday, Its the first Rider game... What not eh?