(picture courtesy JC-Fotos)
The pre-season is over and now the real work starts for the Saskatchewan Roughriders as coach Corey Chamblin and his assistants make the decisions as to who stays and who goes. As Chamblin said last night, some guys played themselves on the roster and others played themselves off.
One player who definitely played himself on the roster was Regina Thunder defensive lineman Zack Evans. Chamblin basically said he won't have good news for the Thunder when it comes to the status of Evans and his career with them as he will be making this team. The kid knows how to play the game and learning from Keith Shologan means he is just going to get better and better.
It would appear as if Drew Willy has become the number 2 quarterback or has he? JT O'Sullivan showed some veteran savvy in leading the team downfield to their last minute touchdown and how about the Eli Manning-esque spin to get out of trouble and find a wide open Ismael Bamba? Some young guys wouldn't have that poise. Will a 32 year old accept being a clipboard holder or not. I could see O'Sullivan being number 2 and Willy being the developmental guy. Willy has certainly shown that he can play the game----at least to this point. You know that the schemes will become a little different now from opposing defences and defensive co-ordinators now have some film on him. I have already seen some discussion and tweets suggesting Willy move up to number one on the depth chart and that's ridiculous. Durant is the starting quarterback on this team and will be the starting quarterback barring injury. This team is not about to make a rookie who has not seen a snap of regular season CFL football their starter so lets throw away any talk of a quarterback controversy. Durant is the guy and will be the guy.
Kory Sheets should be the starting tailback and he should provide us with a breakaway threat that this team hasn't had since the days of Kenton Keith. The Purdue Boilermaker can make something out of nothing and is explosive when he gets the football. I don't know what type of pass-catcher he is, but if he can be utilized with a screen or short pass, he could be special.
The one thing I did take out of last nite's game that I didn't like was the play of the secondary. It seemed to me as if the Stampeders weren't having many problems in getting their receivers open. Was this because the Rider d-backs weren't getting it done or was there too much time for the quarterback to make his read and find the right guy. With the likes of Fantuz, Stala and Williams on deck, that group needs to be better. Again though, how much did the Riders show as they don't want to throw their defensive playbook out there for other teams to see when it doesn't matter. It is a veteran group back there with guys like Nick Graham, Lance Frazier and James Patrick so perhaps I shouldn't be as worried about that area as I was leaving the ballpark last night.
How anout the new ballpark? The old girl looks pretty good, but the bottom line is she's still an old girl that needs replacing. Some are saying the stadium looks darker. Really? I didn't find that. I heard several people in the north endzone say their seats broke which isn't good, but construction crews now have until July 9 to fix that and make the stadium look even better. The new improved Maxtron is something else.
Who stays and who goes? We will find out Sunday afternoon when Chamblin meets the media. I would love to be in the room when the discussions are made as to who has made this team and who hasn't as I'm sure the chatter will be intense.