Saturday, May 25, 2024

Riders vs. Elks: Preseason Game 2

While pretty much every team will be kicking off the preseason this weekend, the Riders will be closing it out in Edmonton. For many it will be a final chance to prove they are worthy of a roster spot. For others, they may just wish to remain in Edmonton as there are better connecting flights home there.

Because this is the first game for Edmonton, they are taking a wildly different approach than the Riders. This could lead to some lopsidedness in the results. This will be the primary tune-up for the Elks’ starters. We on the other hand left pretty much any starter of value off the roster. It is Edmonton (who has somehow managed to suck even worse than the very low bar we set the past 2 years) so I mean, I guess its conceivable our back-ups rough them up. But its not likely. My guess is that they dominate the first half and then the 2nd half descends into organized chaos as both teams play their back-ups in an effort to see who is most cut-worthy. I expect a second half full of cut-worthy plays on both sides. 

Here are a few players that I think have either a tremendous opportunity to earn a spot or a tremendous need to show something to not lose a spot. 

Mason Fine – All eyes will be on Fine. The team put faith in him by re-signing him over Dolegala this offseason. Patterson played well enough in the first preseason game that you could see him as the back-up. Fine needs to step up a move the ball. From what I remember from his limited time last year, he could complete a lot of passes but rarely find the endzone. He can’t just be OK in this one. He needs to show that he is justifiably better than Patterson and just as important that he is continuing to grow as a QB. This is his 4th year in the CFL.

Nelson Lokombo – I think its notable that Lokombo gets the start at wide-side CB for both preseason games. I take that as a sign they are hoping he can secure that position but need to see him prove it. Like Fine it will be his fourth year in the league. He needs to show well.

Starting OL – About the only starters dressing are the OL, and for good reason. A) we want that unit to gel and B) if you want to evaluate QBs and WRs you need a mildly competent line. A strong showing against what I assume will be the Elks starters would help ease the concern amongst fans like me that we may never solve our OL issues. 

Cox/Albright – Without Lanier and Micah, it will certainly be tougher than normal for the edge guys but we still don’t have a bonafide #1 pass rusher. Be nice to see Cox and/or Albright step up and make an impact against Edmonton’s starting OL. 

DeMarcus Fields – Incumbent Amari Henderson has yet to see the field. Meanwhile Fields has been benefitting from the added reps. He looked capable in the first preseason game. Another good showing against real starters and Fields could see himself starting come the regular season. 

Keeshawn Johnson/Dhonte Meyers – There remains an American WR spot up for grabs and I don’t have faith in Geronimo Allison to be the guy. Johnson brings a bit more size, Meyers clearly has speed (and the ability to assist in returning). Prime opportunity for one of these two to step up and make their case. 

Ajou Ajou – Speaking of receivers taking advantage of opportunities, Ajou2 has a golden opportunity. We need back-up Canadian receivers. None of the guys he his competing against are dressed. If he can avoid untimely offsides and keep making plays he should find himself backing up Emilus and Baker come June.  

Rodney Clemons – The son of famed pitcher/juicer Roger Clemons*, Rodney made an early impact in game 1 notching the first sack on Chris Streveler. Cory Mace wants playmakers on his D and while the starters are pretty much set, the battle for back-ups in wide open.

*no part of the statement is factual.

McClain/Fagot – Speaking of back-up defenders, odds are there is only room to keep one of McClain and Fagot. Both made plays last week (though as I mentioned McClain literally did not have to move to make his play). I expect both to see a lot of playing time as the coaches try and determine who ultimately stands above the other.

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