Friday night the Riders conclude the preseason under the lights at Mosaic against the Eskimos. For some vets it will be the final tune-up before starting the campaign to repeat as champions, for others it will be their last chance to impress the coaches enough to earn a job... for the fans, its as good of an excuse as it gets to get drunk on a Friday (just in case you were short of reasons to drink on Friday). If you time your drinking right, you will only not remember the part of the game where future cuts are playing.
There are a few things in particular to watch for this game:
- Most obvious is RBs where this will be the final showdown between Thomas, Allen and Toston. My gut tells me Thomas will make the team as will one of Allen/Toston but in terms of who starts I think its still up for grabs between the 3. Beyond just running, they will need to show that they can pass-block and catch so I would keep an eye on who excels there.
- Next most obvious is WR. I'm convinced Brett Swain will be a day 1 starter, which leaves Riley, Smith and Schillens (which I believe is the current ranking) to battle it out for the last starting spot and 1 backup import spot (it will be a long time before I adopt these new national/international terms. I feel like a crusty old man "In my day we called them imports and that's the way I like it!").
- Also curious to see which Cdn receiver will step up and grab the back-up spot. Etienne is as good as cut and I think/pray that Sisco will need a tremendous showing to save him. I see one of the draft picks or maybe even Anthony as guys who could win that spot.
- Defensively I think we are all but committed to Kilgore at MLB so it will be interesting to see if he keeps progressing from game 1. Morty Ivy has earned himself a roster spot but I see him being used like Kitwana used to be, all over the field.
- Same with Sumlin at DT, I think the spot is his but someone will be making this team as a back-up DT so keep an eye on Guyton, Walker, White. I'm also curious to see where Dylan Ainsworth fits in. His play on teams will be the difference between him being on the roster day 1 vs. being kept around to develop.
- DBs will be really interesting to watch. For my money, the starters are set with the exception of Jackson who isn't playing bad but with guys like Green and Stoudemire in the mix he is far from a lock.
Other than that I just hope we make through relatively unscathed injury-wise. People seem to be very worried about Suneri based his play in the first game but I am not. He will be fine as our back-up in the off chance we actually need to call on him.
Unfortunately I will be out of town on family vacation so I will need to rely on radio, replays and feedback from folks like you who actually go to the game. If you are going I would encourage you to carry on the time honoured tradition of the Official Rider Prophet Preseason Drinking Game (click to see the rules).