The bye week was bad news in that there was no Rider football. The good news was that the Riders didn’t find a way to lose this week. Since there is no game to talk about as I usually do on Monday’s, I thought I would take this opportunity to recognize a few players that I think have contributed greatly to this team even though they may not get the attention or fanfare they deserve.
Derek Walker – When we lost Shologan and Evans in the expansion draft and then let McElveen walk I was pretty concerned about our ability to fill the DT spot alongside George. Honestly I was just hoping we could find someone mildly competent oaf to occupy the space. Walker has not only been competent but I think is an impact player along our D-line. He doesn’t get the stats or the publicity the other 3 get but the whole unit seems to play a lot better with him in and his stats are pretty solid for a DT (with 5 sacks and an impressive INT). I noticed a drop in play in the games he missed. DT is a tough position to recruit so we are fortunate to have unearthed a good one at a time we really needed it. He will be our rookie of the year nominee.
Mark LeGree – This is another one of our new recruits that I am very high on. He is really excelling in his rotational role in our defense. He leads the team in INTs despite his part-time playing status. He provides valuable depth in a number of positions and is a guy who I think still has potential to develop in a fulltime starter.
Tristan Jackson – For me Jackson just epitomizes heart. Amid the 2011 disaster of a season he was one of the few people who consistently gave his all every game. Last year, he wasn’t on the roster to start the year but got called back midseason to help solidify our secondary. He took it all in stride and quietly went about proving he deserved to stay. This season he is having his best season in green and white by far in my opinion. He has 4 INTs and is one of our most consistent DBs. He has also brought life back to our return game. He leads the league is kickoff returns and returned a missed FG all the way to the house. Simply put he is having an impact in whatever we ask him to do. He should get the nod as our Special Teams player of the year… and if there were an award for all-round utility he would get that too.
Rob Bagg – Hands up if you expected Rob Bagg to be our leading receiver this year… be honest. I have always loved Rob Bagg (yes hahaha funny man, Prophet loves Bagg). But for the last number of years the best we could really hope for the guy was that he his knees held up. Well we’ve gone from holding our breath every time he gets the ball for fear it might be his last play to hoping the guy gets the ball more often because he is a key contributor. We had voids to fill in our receiving core this season and unlike the Taj’s and Getzlaf’s of the world who we expected to step up but instead had untimely drops both in production and actual dropped footballs, Bagg has upped his game and really been the only consistent receiving option we have. His performance this season has been so good that I will forgive him for that dreadful drop in BC.
Ricky Foley – Obvious name but I still don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. Foley would rank among the best pass rushers in the league even if he was an import (I refuse to use the term international, I think its stupid and I’m stubborn and change resistant). But when you consider all that he does on the field AND the fact that he is a Canadian… you have a pretty special player. This is the kind of impact Canadian starter that GMs dream of.
Hourable mention to Macho Harris just because he managed to stay healthy for a whole season… the majority of which was spent as a starter. I definitely wouldn’t have put money on that. In his 2 previous seasons he managed just 11 total games.
PS – I indemnify myself from all culpability if my mentioning his durability leads to him getting injured in the final game of the season.