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Biggest Takeaways From Riders Roster Moves

Published: Sunday, Jun 4th 2023, 2:06pm

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)


The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced their roster moves on Sunday morning following the preseason and while no bigger name players were released, I do have some takeaways about a few positions.


It’s interesting that the Riders were able to keep all four Quarterbacks around. Did either Mason Fine or Jake Dolegala turn down a practice roster spot, forcing the teams hand? Has the team even made their final decision on whether it’s Fine or Dolegala as the primary backup to Trevor Harris? Will one of them accidentally get a paper cut to land them on the 6 game injured list to start the season? We all know there is roster manipulation about to happen, so I’m curious to see what happens here.


There was a bit of a surprise with Running Backs. Released was National Kienan LaFrance. I was hoping they’d find a younger Canadian to replace his special teams spot on the game day roster and they did with this year’s draftee Thomas Bertrand-Hudon making the roster. No running backs were added to the practice roster though, so even though BJ Emmons and Javian Hawkins both showed well, they were both shown the door. I’d imagine one of them will be on speed dial should an injury happen to Jamal Morrow or Frankie Hickson.


For the few people that said Derel Walker was in tough to make the team… I hope you feel silly now. Come on… Same with Juwan Brescacin. With the injury to Kian Schaffer-Baker, how you thought either of these guys wouldn’t make the team is beyond me. 


On the O-Line, the most interesting move the Riders made was bringing in American tackle Colin Kelly. He started 16 games last season at both left and right tackle between Hamilton and Edmonton. Will it be him, Jerald Hawkins or Phillip Blake that get the first shot at locking down the left tackle position? Is right tackle settled with Eric Lofton? Wednesday’s first practice of the year should answer that for us.


Flipping over to defense, the only surprise to me was DE Stefen Banks getting released, but he was practically invisible during training camp and the preseason games, so I guess I’m not that shocked. Get ready for a full on rotation on the D-Line this season as the Riders are keeping NINE(!) D-Linemen on the active roster to start the year. That’ll keep everyone fresh and continue to allow this group to get pressure on QBs all game long.


In the Defensive Backfield, preseason standout DB Deontai Williams made the team on the practice roster and it was great to see Jaxon Ford make the club. He’ll get in on special teams and if there is ever an in game injury to a DB, we could see some rotation back there with Nelson Lokombo and Godfrey Onyeka.


Overall, I really like that the 2023 Draft Class is well represented. DL Lake Korte-Moore, DB Jaxon Ford, LB Matt Dean and RB Thomas Bertrand-Hudon all made the roster. Well done, Jeremy O’Day and company!


We’ll discuss the moves and look ahead to the first game of the season against the Edmonton Elks on the next episode of The Piffles Podcast!


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