Alex’s Top 5 Things to Watch in Riders vs Lions Preseason Game
Published: Friday, May 26th 2023, 2:05pm
By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
The Saskatchewan Roughriders host the BC Lions this Saturday evening at Mosaic Stadium for their first preseason game of the year. Normally, I just watch and hope no injuries happen and that maybe a rookie or two can have big games to solidify their spot on the roster. But with the amount of turnover the Riders saw this offseason, I am definitely much more intrigued by the 2023 preseason than I have been for a while. Here’s my top five things I’m looking for this Saturday, in no particular order:
1. Backup QB steps up – I really don’t care if it’s Shea Patterson, Mason Fine or Jake Dolegala, one of these guys needs to separate themselves from the rest of the group. From everything I’ve read from Training Camp, Patterson is the guy who has looked the best and is likely to be given the most playing time in this upcoming game. The backup job is really up in the air, I just want to see someone TAKE it.
2. Linebackers have a good game – Okay, maybe this is a bit vague, but I’m really hoping that someone behind Larry Dean steps up and shows they can play in the middle of the defense. Also, is there another LB behind Micah Teitz that can win a roster spot? Is Teitz the unchallenged starter at the WIL LB position, or is there someone there that can push for more playing time? I like the starters the Riders have at LB with Teitz, Dean and Derrick Moncrief, but behind them, we have no idea if there is the next star. Hopefully C.J. Reavis shows well at SAM LB while Moncrief is out with injury.
3. The O-Line finalizes – The much criticized Offensive Line of the Riders NEEDS to have a bounce back 2023 campaign. Having Trevor Harris at QB automatically makes the OL look better than Cody Fajardo did, as Harris has a quick release and can read a defense to make the right throw (or throwaway, if needed). But the starting OL needs to be formed immediately. The team can’t afford to keep trying new guys throughout the year, they need to build continuity. If the starting group ends up being Hawkins/Blake/Godber/Ferland/Lofton like it has been through most of Training Camp, great. I’m not too worried about the interior of the line, it’s the tackles that worry me. The team NEEDS to find some guys that will be mainstays on the line. If not, you can move Phillip Blake to left tackle, but you likely need to start Evan Johnson at right guard and I’m not a fan of Johnson having a starting job after 2022.
4. Compete, compete, compete – I don’t give a lick if the Riders win or lose this game (or next week’s preseason game against Winnipeg). I just want to see guys go out there and bust their asses off, even the projected starters. I don’t want to see players just going through the motions. It needs to be etched into this team that they MUST compete harder than their opponents every single play… which brings me to my last thing.
5. Craig Dickenson shows growth – Coach Dickey lost the clubhouse last year, there is no denying that and it all started with the Garrett Marino incident. In his defense, he shouldn’t have had to be the one to answer to the media every single day about Marino, but GM Jeremy O’Day and President & CEO Craig Reynolds hid in their offices all season long. But after that incident, Dickey lost the team… he admitted himself he had no idea what the vibe was like with the team because he doesn’t go into the locker room. Yeah, I get that it’s a player’s place, but this is YOUR team and you command it. There’s a lot of talk coming from him about discipline and accountability… For his job’s sake, I hope he walks the walk this season and it needs to start here in preseason game 1.
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