Advertisement

Saskatchewan Roughriders poised for Saturday's scrimmage

Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson is hoping that some players emerge during Saturday's controlled scrimmage at Mosaic Stadium.

Article content

Ideally, the “S” on the Saskatchewan Roughriders‘ helmet will stand for “Separation” on Saturday.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

That was the buzzword uttered Friday by head coach Craig Dickenson after the CFL team completed its final training-camp workout before a crucial controlled scrimmage.

“What we’re hoping to see is separation between those guys who are really close,” Dickenson said.

“For example, in the linebacking crew we’re hoping to see a couple of those guys separate and show us they’ve got the ability to play in the CFL.

“We’re hoping the Canadian receivers can separate and sort themselves out a little bit.

“Quarterback is decided at 1, but we’re hoping that one of those other guys separates at 2. That’s what we’re looking to see.

“We just need more information right now. We’ve been practising for two weeks now and everything’s too close to call. You need something, either a scrimmage or a pre-season game, to separate and show us who our depth’s going to be and who those guys are that we keep from the new guys.”

In the case of the quarterbacks, Cody Fajardo is entrenched as No. 1. Dickenson and offensive co-ordinator Jason Maas will be most interested in how the four prospective No. 2s — second-year CFLer Isaac Harker, along with newcomers Paxton Lynch, Tom Flacco and Mason Fine — fare in the scrimmage (3 p.m., Mosaic Stadium).

Maas and defensive co-ordinator Jason Shivers will handle the play-calling during the two-hour session, which is especially important in light of the fact that pre-season games will not be played due to the COVID-induced shortening of the 2021 season.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“The offence will go against the defence,” Dickenson said. “We’ll probably go 1s versus 1s going in one direction. Wherever they end up stopping, we’re going to flip it and the 2s will go the other way.

“Jason Maas and Jason Shivers are going to be coaching the whole game. I’ll let them rotate their guys as they see fit.

“We did talk last night about how much we wanted to see the 1s. The truth is we’re probably going to watch them for about a quarter, just like you do in the pre-season. Then we’ll shut them down and really let the 2s and the 3s battle it out after that.”

The scrimmage will also be a preparatory tool for the coaches.

“It gives us a dry run at the game-day operations,” Dickenson said. “We’ll have coaches up in the (press) box and we’ll have coaches on the sideline. It’s really more for our coaches to be able to coach their players without being on the field.

“Now, I may be on the field a little bit, because I really want to make sure it’s a quick whistle. We want communication from the top down and it gives us a chance, as coaches, to get back into the groove a little bit.

“Me personally, it gives me a chance to start working on game management and managing that clock and getting a feel for the game. So I think it’s going to be important for not just players, but also for coaches, to have a good day tomorrow.”

The scrimmage will be held in front of fans. A maximum of 5,000 spectators will be permitted for the Roughriders’ first event of any magnitude since they played host to the West Division final on Nov. 17, 2019. The 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“I think (the fans) will give them energy,” Dickenson said of his players. “They’re tired of listening to us, to be quite honest, and I’m tired of talking to them.

“At camp, we’ve worked really hard and done, I think, a good job of keeping them engaged, but now it’s time for them to go out there and do what they’re trained to do, which is to play football and to play at a high level.”

The End Game

Injuries have left the Roughriders a little thin at the defensive end spots.

First-year Roughrider Tim Williams, who has been impressive in recent days, sat out Friday’s practice with an ankle injury.

Veteran A.C. Leonard (hamstring tightness) was also absent from Friday’s session.

The status of Keion Adams, an early standout at camp, is uncertain for the scrimmage.

“He’s feeling better all the time,” Dickenson said of Adams. “He’s still got a little stiffness, I think, in his knee, but structurally it’s fine. We’ve been told that he’s fine from a structural point of view. It’s just how much he feels comfortable doing.

“But he’s had a good camp. There’s nothing he’s going to do on Saturday that takes away from what he did in the first week. We know he’s a good player. We just want to see him get out there and get his legs moving and get back into game shape a little bit.”

Junior Johnson

Regina-born offensive lineman Evan Johnson is away from the team for an uncertain period after becoming a father for the first time earlier this week.

“I heard he had a baby boy, so we’re happy for him,” Dickenson said. “I think he’s still checking in on the quarantine requirements (as far as when he can rejoin the team).

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“I think we’ll see him at some point next week, but when that is I don’t know exactly. He’ll come back when he’s ready. We really want him back, at the very latest, that last week before we play B.C., because we are counting on him to be on that line.”

The Roughriders are to begin their regular season Aug. 6 against the visiting B.C. Lions.

rvanstone@postmedia.com

twitter.com/robvanstone

The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Regina Leader-Post has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.

Latest National Stories

Advertisement

Story continues below

News Near Grande Prairie

This Week in Flyers