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Piffles Top 5 – Battles to Watch in Riders Training Camp

Published: Friday, May 10th 2024, 8:05am

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)


On The Piffles Podcast recently, Greg, Stephen and I started talking about Training Camp and a couple of the battles we are looking forward to seeing. We went into greater detail on this with the Host of The Green Zone Jamie Nye on this week’s episode. Which positions are the ones to keep a close eye on? With a new coaching staff in place, there are plenty of roster spots up for grabs. But what are the biggest battles to watch when TC opens in Saskatoon in a few short days??


Riders QB Jack Coan in the XFL


5. Backup Quarterback

The most popular player on the team! Who will backup Trevor Harris? Right now, Mason Fine is the favourite to be QB2 here in Riderville. I don’t really like it, but I’ve come to accept it. His main competition this year will be Shea Patterson. I don’t see a situation where both Fine and Patterson make the active roster and I doubt either of them take a PR spot. Recently signed Jack Coan will be in his first CFL Training Camp. I don’t expect him to make the active roster, but given his age (25), I’d think he’s a lock for the Practice Roster at this point. Unless he comes in and completely lights things up, I doubt he’ll be given a true shot at the backup spot, at least not yet. The only other option on the roster today is Antonio Pipkin, but he isn’t a threat to be QB2, he’ll likely be 3rd on the depth chart, the short yardage guy. Fine got outperformed last year by the recently departed Jake Dolegala (we can debate on if the Riders made the right choice by letting Jake walk and keeping Mason), but will he beat out Patterson? I personally think Fine has shown us exactly what he is (and what he isn’t), so I’d rather go with the guy that has more upside. I guess we’ll find out over the next few weeks.


4. WIL Linebacker

Last season, this spot was occupied by Micah Teitz, but with him going to Calgary, the team needs a new starter here. If the team keeps this as a Canadian spot, maybe Jayden Dalke moves down here to a spot he might be more suited for? A.J. Allen returns from last year and got some valuable experience as a rotational piece. Free Agent signing Adam Auclair is likely penciled in as the starter, but maybe Canadians Jaxon Ciraolo-Brown, Matt Dean and Nick Thomas get a shot in preseason as well. The team could also go American here and have one of  T.J. Brunson, K.D. Davis, Diego Fagot, Zakoby McClain or Jaylen Moody win the job. Either way, this could be quite the heated battle to see who joins linebackers Jameer Thurman and C.J. Reavis in the starting unit.


3. Defensive Backfield

The Riders have some good, young talent in the secondary and the projected starters give the team a very good foundation. Rolan Milligan, Amari Henderson and Jalon Edwards-Cooper should have the lead on 3 of the 5 starting spots. Canadians Jayden Dalke and Jaxon Ford (when he returns from injury), along with Nelson Lokombo, Godfrey Onyeka and Kosi Onyeka backing them up, appear to have the Safety spot covered, but with a new staff, all 5 spots could be wide open. Deontai Williams showed some promise last year and has been brought back. Antoine Brooks Jr., Rodney Clemons, C.J. Coldon, Cole Coleman, DaMarcus Fields, Mark Fields II, Holton Hill, Jamar Johnson, Mark McLaurin, Marcus Murphy, and Nick Nelson are all signed right now and will provide a great competition to see who can lock down a starting spot (and who will stick around on the Practice Roster).


Receiver Geronimo Allison (photo courtesy NFL.com)


2. Receivers

We know that Canadians Kian Schaffer-Baker and Sam Emilus (with Mitch Picton and Brayden Lenius backing up) have two spots in the starting group and Shawn Bane Jr. does as well. The other two starting spots are completely up for grabs (haha, get it?) and the competition should be intense. Do the Riders go with 3 Canadians starting? It’s sure starting to look that way, especially now after the CFL Draft. Jerreth Sterns may have an upper hand on one of the spots, but did he show enough last year to be given a starting spot? Newcomers Geronimo Allison, KeeSean Johnson, Dazz Newsome and Dohnte Meyers will all get a chance to make the team. So do the others returning in Kendall Watson, Jake Parker and Kalija Lipscomb. The Riders need to find a couple of inexpensive options here that can be with the team for a few years… ideally, their own Dalton Shoen is on the roster already.


1. Left Tackle

It’s no secret that the Riders have had no success finding help on the O-Line for their QBs over the last few years. GM Jeremy O’Day got his Right Tackle in Jermarcus Hardrick in free agency, so we just need to find the guy on the other end. Last year, there was only a Plan A: Jerald Hawkins. He was given the starting spot before camp even began and then didn’t show up. It put the Riders in scramble mode and when he did finally report, he got hurt right away (after not playing in a game for a few years). This year, Hawkins won’t report to camp and there are FINALLY some other true left tackles coming to camp. Trevor Reid, Sadarius Hutcherson and Jonathan Hubbard are the Americans I expect to all get reps in the preseason. If none of these guys has what it takes, at least this year the team has flexibility and some options. Canadians Philip Blake and Logan Ferland could play LT if needed, so there seems to be a backup plan. Let the best man win.



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