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Durant Returns to Saskatchewan While We Say Goodbye to Taylor Field

Published: Thursday, Oct 26th 2017, 6:10pm

by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

Anyone else getting misty eyed thinking about Friday? Darian Durant is back in Saskatchewan. That’s the storyline going into this week’s game for the Riders as they host the Montreal Alouettes on Friday night at Mosaic Stadium. It will be a day full of emotions here in Riderville as we get to honour one of the greatest players in Rider history on the same day that the West side grandstands of old Taylor Field gets taken down.

Durant has been back in Regina since the trade that sent him to Montreal back on January 13, but that was for CFL Week in March. This time, he will be in the stadium that he helped build for the first time. Durant is having, well, let’s be honest here, a terrible year. He’s played poorly, the rest of his team has played worse and Montreal is staring down a 3-15 season.

By all accounts, Montreal shouldn’t be playing Durant at all Friday. They should be looking towards the future and play third-string QB Matthew Shiltz. But GM/Head Coach Kavis Reed has said it’s the right thing to do to play Durant in front of his fans here in Saskatchewan. While I’m excited to see one of my favourite players in Rider history play in our new stadium, Reed is doing the worst possible thing for his team. They need to see what they have in their young QB and he needs to play the final two games for Montreal.

For fans, the return is a bit bittersweet. Many fans here in Saskatchewan still wish Durant was the starter for the Riders, while most (after seeing how this season has unfolded) are glad he isn’t here anymore. For fans like myself, I hate seeing Durant struggle like he has this season. Like I said, he’s one of my favourite Riders of all time and no one can deny the heart and soul he poured into this team, but I agree that it was time to move on to the future here in Riderville. But it’s tough seeing one of our heroes play poorly and have a full fan base in Montreal turn on him like we’ve seen the past few months.

Rob Bagg spend pretty much his entire career with Durant as his QB and I asked him about Durant’s return and playing against his best friend. “It’s not really me going up against him. Thankfully, you know, being my best friend, at least he’s on the other side of the field. I’ll never play against him specifically myself, but I know my teammates are going to do their best to shut him down.”

Bagg also weighed in on the struggles of Durant this season “I also have a lot of respect for Doubles and know that while this year has been, I think he would admit, probably pretty terrible and very frustrating, I know the type of man and type of player he is, so we have to be prepared because at any moment he can return to his old self.”

Both Durant and Chris Jones have said there is no animosity between the two (which is hard to believe, especially after Durant’s celebration in the 17-16 season opening win for the Als over the Riders back on June 22), but there is more to this game than just Durant returning home. The Riders playoff position is still up in the air. If the team wants to play in the West Division playoffs, they will need to win their final two games to ensure that happens. More changes to the roster this week for the Riders as Derek Dennis returns to the lineup and Cameron Marshall comes off. Dennis was home last week nursing a back injury and is listed as a backup. Marshall is being held off the roster to make sure he is 100% for the playoffs, while Trent Richardson and Greg Morris will split reps at Running Back.

Duron Carter is returning back to offence and his familiar receiver position. Kacy Rodgers has taken reps with the #1 unit on defence all week and will return to the lineup. I was kind of hoping we could see Carter get another INT this week against Durant, but alas, it doesn’t appear that will happen.

There is absolutely no reason the Riders shouldn’t win this game, but I can’t help but hear a little voice in my head that says it almost smells of a trap game. I hope it’s not, but we’ve been Rider fans for long enough and we’ve seen the team lose these types of games before. But, that won’t happen this time. I honestly don’t see this team losing any more games this year and that includes the playoffs. Their defence is the best in the league right now and as long as the offence can convert all their red zone chances into touchdowns instead of settling for field goals, this team is going to be incredibly hard to beat.

As mentioned, Friday will be quite the day in Riderville as we get what looks to be our final official farewell to Taylor Field. At 1pm the controlled collapse of the West side grandstands happens. Piffles Podcast will have a live stream of the event on our Twitter account @PifflesPod so if you can’t make it out to the site, make sure you are following along on Twitter. Kleenex not provided.

Durant will likely be honoured pregame and should get the standing ovation he deserves. Get there early and let’s show him some love Ridernation, this may be the last start he gets in Saskatchewan.

Prediction: 37-12 Riders.

Go Riders!

 

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