Riders 12 - Esks 35
How good did the Riders' first preseason game go? Well the back-up kicker was the player of the game, our star receiver was our most physical defender, the story of the game was the announcers apologizing for profanity and at one point we had more offsides than positive yards. The cherry on top was that Rod Black was the announcer. So while this was certainly better than the past months of not having football, it was not by much.
But before we start completely overreacting (as Rider Fans have been known to do from time to time) let's remember that we did not dress pretty much any players that mattered on defense and our top 2 QBs didn't set foot on the field. This game was about evaluating our new guys and many of them will soon be unemployed. So while its never a good thing to get pummeled (even in the preseason). Its not the end of the world. The 2nd preseason game will be a lot more telling in terms of where this team stands.
Let's take a look at what we did learn at each position:
QB - Neither Collaros or Bridge are in any danger of slipping down the depth chart. My assessment of what we saw is as follows: Watford has a big arm but no idea how to use it. Williams has great poise in the pocket but no ability to do anything productive (though some allowance for him as he was with second/third stringers). Daniels is raw and needs developing but showed spark (albeit against Edmonton's future unemployed). If I was running things Watford and Daniels stay and battle, Williams goes home. But no one asks me.
RB - Thigpen is really good. He was one of the few bright spots on Sunday. Going to be tough waiting until game 3 for him but he will be electric when he does play. I'd give Stacy a slight edge over McPhearson though neither showed a ton.
OL - Biggest question mark coming in. I thought the starting group did fine early on. Watford was kept fairly clean. Nothing outstanding but solid enough to allay some fears. We we started mixing in the back-ups though things went down hill quick. Raises definte concerns about our depth. Cofield was not great and Bladek struggled at times. I think our starting 5 will be ok (I hope they take another step forward next game as I'd like to be better than ok though I'll take it). Need to see more from our 2nd stringers though because I doubt we go a full season injury free.
WR - Our starters are good (more patented top notch Prophet analysis). No one really showed much outside of that though. After hearing Williams-Lambert talked up all week he was very quiet. I thought Josh Stanford gained a lot of ground in his battle for a spot with Devon Bailey. Bailey has size but I'll take Stanford's steady consistency from Sunday over that. Kyran Moore is fast but didn't show a ton beyond that.
DL - No one really impressed or stood out here which in one sense is fine since all our starters were resting but it was disappointing that no one really flashed. They did display an amazing ability to jump offside prematurely.
LBs - We may have something in Cam Judge. No just because of that one hit (which was nice) be I did notice him all over the field. Sam Hurl is who we thought he was. Good on teams, ok rotational defender, liability as a starter. Again, no one really stood out. Which is too bad because we need some depth here.
CBs - Chris Lyles is still a liability when it comes to the deep ball. I hope someone can step up and unseat him for the starting spot. Nick Marshall looked good, especially on that pick. Only other thing I noticed was Brouilette wiff on at least 2 open field tackles. Maybe he should threaten to sue anyone who avoids his tackle.
Special Teams - Lauther kicked well but make no mistake, Crapigna is out guy. We may keep Lauther around in case of injury though. I consistently noticed Alexandre Gagne be among the first downfield on kick coverage. Its a good thing Christion Jones is our returner. No one else looked great (other than Moore's speed).
For the Riders it was a performance so ugly it might not even get picked up at last call at an open bar. But it was good to see football again and it will be even better when our actual good players dress.