Before I start today’s post I would just like to say how nice it will to talk about actual football and not hear the terms bargaining or ratification for another 7 years. It will also be nice to see all the recently self declared labour law experts return to their normal roles as self declared second comings of John Madden.
Its really throwing me off to do a game preview post on a Monday… but here we are.
Look I’ll level with, as much as I am looking forward to the preseason game, please ensure your expectations are super low. This is like the salad that comes before a good meal. Also please be reminded that the Riders are abysmal in the preseason. Since I clearly have nothing better to do with my time (sad) I looked back on our preseason record. Its 0-9-1 in the 5 years where preseason occurred. Yes the best thing that happened in the past 5 preseasons was a tie (i.e. like kissing your sister). You have to go all the way back to 2014 for an actual preseason win. That’s fine because preseason wins count for as much monopoly money. I’m just mentally preparing you for the fact that we will lose... and that's ok.
Also this is our first preseason game and we have another on Friday. So we will be saving our vets for Friday and playing a lot of new guys. By contrast this is Winnipeg’s second game so they’ve made initial cuts and odds are good we see their starters for the first half. It’ll be lopsided and it's a Tuesday night so we can’t even drink this one pretty.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not some things worth watching. Here’s some of what I’ll have my eye on:
QB – Its Fine vs. Dolegala. Really looking to see who looks poised when the lights are on. Part of me hopes they both suck because I know if Dolegala has a good fourth quarter against the future unemployed people will start calling for him to start.
OL – Big test to see what we have for depth. Never thought losing Josiah St John to injury would cause me concern by here we are. I don’t mind our starters but our depth scares me beyond Jamal Campbell. Looking to see if guys like Bandy and Fry can hold their own.
RB – Preseason game is the chance for RBs. In 2012 Kory Sheets seized the opportunity and made the team. In 2008 Quinten Griffin thought it was below him and was cut before the plane ride home. Be nice to see one of Morrow or Cooper step up and seize the starting role.
WR – With Kyran Moore not back from injury yet there is a starting American job up for grabs. Paul McRoberts’ 18 years on the practice roster have him poised as the lead guy. Though lots of talk about Jester Weah and Dieuly Aristilde who I’m eager to see live. Also curious to see how the draft pick Emilus looks.
On defense, Micah Teitz being out long term has an impact on the ratio that bears monitoring. If we go 3 Cdn OL, 2 Cdn WR and Edem, not having Teitz at LB leaves us short a guy. We have Dabire at DL but no depth. Dean appears to be replacing Teitz. Oneyka can play CB or maybe Lokombo. We could also go Campell of OT or go 3 Cdn receivers. Either way, we need some Canadians to step up.
On DL, I’m looking at depth both at DT and DE as the starters should mostly be set. Nick Coe, Miles Brown and David Kenney are names worth watching.
At LB, again its all about depth and it won’t be easy to crack as returnees like Gary Johnson and Nigel Harris will need to be beat outright for a rookie to make it.
DB is one I will be watching. By the camp reports it sounds like the starting group has been Marshall-Milligan-Edem-Clark-Webb. But guys like Hendy and Reavis have been getting reps. Be nice to finally see Nelson Lokombo on the field. Also be really watching to see how our young Canadians do on special teams. Always nice to see a couple guys step up and be impact players there. Guys like Labelle, Fleury, Dalke, and Bringi will have a chance.
We’re going to lose. It could look pretty ugly at points. But dammit Rider football is back and I’ll be happy just to be back in the stands. It’s also the one game where I don’t even care when stupid people do the wave on offense.