Training camp is in full swing… on some Riders like Dan Marino’s brother took that literally by taking some full swings at Na’ty Rogers. We were supposed to have preseason football today. But I guess we will have to wait a week to go to Mosaic to watch the future unemployed.
For today let’s look at the defense and what needs to be sorted out in training camp.
Projected Starters: AC Leonard, Anthony Lanier, Garrett Marino, Pete Robertson
In the mix: Charleston Hughes, Keion Adams, Charbel Dabire, Nick Coe, Nicholas Dheilly, Miles Brown, David Kenney, Reece McCormick, Benjamin Davis, Kailon Davis, DeMarcus Christmas, Justin Thomas
Our D-line in 2022 will hinge a large part in how well all those guys we recruited last year progress in year two. When healthy (and not taking 15 yard penalties or getting ejected), Marino was a stud in the middle. Lanier and Robertson both had times where they looked like impact players. Even Adams was a half decent back-up. If those guys can take another step forward in development then our line could be damn good. Lanier and Marino are the most important as we really don’t have much else going on at DT if they don’t pan out. Other question is of course how much does Hughes have left in the tank. I don’t think he’s as bad as 2021 showed but I also don’t think he can be an impact player for a full season any more. Ideal situation is having him as a rotation guy to limit his snaps early in the season. A healthy Hughes come playoffs can still be a difference maker. Bold (or no so bold) prediction, Hughes gets 5 sacks in the first 4 games and then none for like the ten as the wear and tear adds back up. Other thing to watch is that Jonathan Woodard is still sitting out there with no NFL deal. If he ends up back here, then look out. I have nothing against DeMarcus Christmas but I hope he doesn’t make the team just so we can avoid all the stupid plays on words.
Projected Starters: Micah Teitz, Darnell Sankey, Derrick Moncrief
In the mix (and by that I mean in the mix to be back-ups): Larry Dean, Gary Johnson, Alvin Jones, Michael Pinckney, Nigel Harris, Justin Herdman-Reed, Tommy Bringi, Justice Momoka, AJ Allen
What a rollercoaster ride LB has been over the past few season. In 2019 we had an all-star 3 in Judge, Elimimian and Moncrief. The all 3 left and we had no one. 2021 was much better than expected as Teitz came out of nowhere to be an impact starter and Lacey stepped up huge when Dean went down. We filled the cover LB role with an ever changing rotation, it was adequate but not great. Moncrief changes that instantly. Getting him back is huge! Not sure exactly how they’ll deploy both Sankey and Dean but it’s a good problem to have. So camp is all about who is the depth. In theory guys like Harris and Johnson should have the leg up but even though they clearly have the talent, they never seem to stay healthy. Herdman is an adequate Canadian back-up. Would love to see a guy like Jones take a step forward. You will also like see some DBs tried out at LB. Hendy and Oneyka played there last season.
Projected Starters: Nick Marshall, Damon Webb, Mike Edem, Jeremy Clark and I legit have no clue on the other spot.
In the mix: Rolan Milligan, Stephen Denmark, Amari Henderson, Vincent Dethier, Josh Nurse, TJ Morrison, Nelson Lokombo, Blace Brown, Godfrey Oneyka, Tristan Fleury, Zach Herzog, Will Sunderland, Levonta Taylor, Brian Cole, CJ Reavis, AJ Hendy, Jayden Dalke, Maceo Beard, Kosi Oneyka, Matt Watson
My kingdom for a halfback! I feel really good about 4 of 5 positions in the secondary (ok, I have some lingering concerns about Marshall but that's beside the point). Webb and Clark were huge finds for us last season, and they should be even better with a season under their belt. Maybe Clark can shift into HB as corner is an easier place to put a rookie than halfback. Say what you want about Gainey but he did pretty good at a very difficult spot to play. Guys I’m most curious in seeing are Nurse, Henderson and Denmark. Also, really want to see what we have in 2021 2nd overall pick Lokombo.
DL - same questions as you. LB's - arguably the best in the CFL. IMO moved on a year early on Purifoy & Gainey who both were offered deals they deemed unacceptable. Lost 2 playmakers there. The thing that saved the Riders bacon on the back end last year was they created lots of turnovers. The negative - 2nd worst in yds passing allowed & also in big plays given up - Marshall a prime suspect IMO on the latter.
AJ Hendy will be the other starting halfback most likely
Right I forgot that he can play that spot. He at least isn't a rookie
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