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Game Preview – 5 Things to Watch For

Published: Friday, Jun 15th 2018, 1:06pm

By: Safinuk (@Safimod)

The Toronto Argonauts are in town to open their title defense against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium this evening. Here are 5 things to watch for, as we prepare for the Riders home opener.

Zach Collaros

After last Friday’s preseason game, Ridernation is on the edge of their seat wondering which Zach Collaros the Riders will get tonight. Will we get the 2015 Zach Collaros, who was well on his way to the 2015 MOP award before his season ending knee injury? Or will we get the 2016/2017 Zach Collaros who sits at 12 consecutive losses. If training camp is any indication, we will get the 2015 version. If the preseason game versus Calgary is any indication, we will get the 2016/17 version. In the end, it won’t matter which Zach Collaros is behind center if the offensive line doesn’t protect him.

Offensive Line

After the surprise release of import guard Travis Bond, the Riders offensive line is going to have a different look tonight. If you believe practice, Dariusz Bladek took a look of time with the 1s, but sits as the 6th OL on the depth chart. If they do go import, Jarvis Harrison will fill in nicely on the right side of the line. The only thing that scares me about the offensive line is depth. We have nobody on the roster behind Dariusz Bladek.

Defensive Line

For the first time this season, Rider fans are going to get a really good look at the vaunted defensive line that was put together by Chris Jones this offseason. Charleston Hughes, Zack Evans, Willie Jefferson, and Makana Henry will form the starting defensive line that will strike fear into oppositions all season long. The question is, how will they perform together? Does Charleston Hughes have enough left in the tank to take another run at the CFL Sack title, and how will playing opposite Willie Jefferson help him get there? The Riders boasted the #1 and #2 defensive lineman on the TSN Top 50 list, and it will be interesting to see how they are deployed.

Wide Receivers

After the release of three veteran receivers in Chad Owens (36), Rob Bagg (33), and Bakari Grant (30), the Riders will go in to 2018 with a more youthful approach to their receiving corps. Taking their place on the roster are Jordan Williams Lambert (24), Shaq Evans (27) and Josh Stanford (23). While much can be said about veteran leadership, the Riders certainly don’t lack that throughout the roster, but they have gained in youthful exuberance. Both William-Lambert and Stanford showed well in preseason, and earned their spot on the roster. Alongside Duron Carter, Caleb Holley and Naaman Roosevelt, the Riders receivers won’t skip a beat.

Running Back Tandem

I’m interested to see who will get more reps at running back between Tre Mason and Jerome Messam, with Marcus Thigpen serving game 1 of his 2 game suspension. I imagine we will see a fairly even split until the 4th quarter, and then it will depend entirely on the game. If we are winning, we will see more of Messam. If we are behind, we likely see more Tre Mason. Either way, I love the one-two punch of Mason and Messam if the offensive line can push guys around.

*** Don’t forget to enter the 2018 Piffles Podcast Fan Contest! Running all season, we want to hear more about YOU, the GREAT Rider fans! What does Rider Pride mean to you? How did you become a fan? Who’s your favourite player? We would like to ask you these questions and more and share your story with ALL of Rider Nation! We have over $2,500 in prizes to give away and we would love to learn more about the passionate fans that make up Riderville! To enter, fill out the questionaire and you are qualified! 20 Weekly Winners will be drawn throughout the season and EVERYONE that enters is put into the Grand Prize Draw to be made during the final week of the CFL regular season! ***

 

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