Monday: The start of another work week and it’s just four more sleeps until the Riders play host to the Stampeders in the final pre-season game of the season for both teams.
There are a number of reasons to be excited about the pre-season home opener. For most fans, it will be their first look at the renovations at Mosaic Stadium. I haven’t seen the completed version yet, but the early looks have been pretty cool. It will be a different stadium experience for players and fans.
There other reason is we’ll get a chance to see how the Riders bounce back from losing 44-10 to the B.C. Lions on Wednesday. I know teams aren’t supposed to rebound or bounce back from pre-season games, but the Riders have to show better than what they did against the Lions. I expect they will because the No. 1s will get a lot more game time. That limits the opportunities for the prospects, but that is life in the CFL.
The Riders devoted nearly all of Monday’s morning practice session to special teams. I understand the importance of special teams and it’s no accident that the Riders were improved in the aspect in 2011. Craig Dickenson is a special-teams genius and he gets the most out of the players. It’s just not exciting to watch. There is a lot of coaching and the players spend a lot of time listening. Head coach Corey Chamblin said the fans in Moose Jaw will see more offence and defence in tonight’s second session at the FieldHouse.
The focus on special teams limited how much I could learn about the offence and defence. G Brendon LaBatte was back with the first-team offence, which is a good sign. Chamblin said he’s still working LaBatte slowly back to the active roster. G Chris Best is still nursing a foot injury and rookie Ben Heenan was in at right guard. We’re nearly through training camp and I still can’t figure out what’s going to happen with all of the offensive linemen. Maybe the next few days will help with that.
DB Macho Harris was back in sweats after I thought he was making advances with his hamstring injury. The Riders have seen enough of Harris that they are willing to be patient with him and wait for the injury to be healed. I guess that says how high they are on the defensive back.
New DT Jay Alford was at practice and spent a lot of practice chatting with Keith Shologan and Tearrius George. Chamblin said that Alford was a little out of shape, but was still expected to play on Friday. Here’s a link to the youtube video of Alford recording a game-changing sack in the final minute of the 2008 Super Bowl with the New York Giants. There will be more on Alford in Tuesday’s Leader-Post.
SB Jordan Sisco is a changed man. Well, at least he’s clean-shaven. Sisco has removed his impressive beard. I would guess that punter Chris Bodnar has the best remaining facial hair. These are the kind of insights you get when the Riders spend a lot of time on special teams.
I didn’t tweet much today because there wasn’t a lot going on. You can still follow me though.