Riders vs Stamps - 5 Things to Watch
Published: Friday, Jun 8th 2018, 8:06am
Piffles Preseason Preview – Calgary @ Saskatchewan
by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
FINALLY, we Rider fans have a game back at Mosaic Stadium and luckily for us, it's the 2nd preseason game and not the first. We get to see all the starters play and some of the new guys play with starters to see how they fit in. You can throw away pretty much everything from the 35-12 loss to Edmonton back on May 27th, that's not even close to the team that you will see tonight.
While most positions on this team are settled, there are still some question marks before final cuts and rosters and made on Sunday.
Here are 5 things I'll be paying attention to tonight at Mosaic Stadium:
1. The Quarterback battle – According to Coach Chris Jones, both Zach Collaros and Brandon Bridge have been consistent in Training Camp and that it's still an open competition. Collaros will start the game and play the 3rd quarter while Bridge will play the 2nd and 4th. I'm confident in both QBs and that either one can lead this team to a Grey Cup run, but this game will truly show us how in sync they are with the offense. I'm still firm in my stance that Collaros is 100% the starter, but if he shows poorly and Bridge is lights out, that leash gets that much shorter. Either way, the Riders are in a great spot going into the season. It's not like we're Winnipeg or Montreal or anything...
2. Offensive Line - Left tackle is still a huge question mark for this team. Terran Vaughn is the favourite to start and while he didn't look out of place in the Edmonton preseason game, he is still an unknown at arguably the most important position on the field. As long as no injuries happen, I'm not worried at all... but injuries always happen and the depth has me worried. Maybe that's why they aren't dressing Dariusz Bladek this week. Regardless of who the starting QB is, the O-Line is the key to success for the 2018 Saskatchewan Roughriders.
3. Running Backs – Jerome Messam is the thunder and Marcus Thigpen is the lightning. But Thigpen is out for the first 2 weeks of the season because of a suspension for PEDs and both of these guys are near the end of their playing careers, so finding that next guy (and the spell off guy for the first few weeks) is imperative. I'm really hoping that next guy is Tre Mason, but he's in tough with other former NFL players Zac Stacy and Storm Johnson (and David Cobb who won't be playing) all on the roster. It will be really interesting to see how this battle shakes out and who is willing to stick around on the practice roster once final cuts are made on Sunday.
4. Linebackers – We all know that Derrick Moncreif and Sam Eguavoen will start at 2 of the Linebacker spots, but that 3rd spot is the worry that most fans have. Sam Hurl was brought in, Henoc Muamba was released and Cameron Judge is still an unknown. Will it be a rotation of Hurl, Judge and Kevin Francis/Brandyn Bartlett in the middle? Will they play outside and Eguavoen moves to the middle? It's a really interesting battle and really the only true question we have about this defense.
5. Cornerback – Nick Marshall is getting the start in the open Cornerback spot and has a chance to solidify his roster spot on a loaded defense. He had an interception in the Edmonton preseason game and for the most part, looked quite good. There may be some learning curves at that spot this season, but with guys like Ed Gainey, Jovon Johnson and Crezdon Butler all around, I have no worries about the secondary. Hoping that Marshall can step up as a lockdown corner as Johnson is getting up there in age and we may need to move on from him after 2018.
Overall, I'm REALLY excited about this team and I'm not really worried about too much. Tonight I'm really just looking forward to getting back in Mosaic Stadium and enjoying football again... it's about time! Oh, and I really hope we all get to see Duron Carter get another pick-six on Bo Levi Mitchell. Let's go Riders!