The Roughriders held their first walk-through at the newly renovated Mosaic Stadium on Thursday.
The old place looks pretty good and I’m sure there will be some envious looks from the people on the sideline benches at the theatre-style seats in the end zones. The new scoreboards are a really nice upgrade and so are the LED ribbons. The suites won’t be in place for a few more weeks, but the steelwork is installed.
Jim Hopson met with the media on Thursday to discuss the renovations. Our man Ian Hamilton has that covered. Photographer Bryan Schlosser will have pics of the changes online later. Hopson reminded all that the renovations are temporary and he’s still looking forward to a new stadium. Me too.
There was some talk about football. Here are the highlights and random thoughts from Thursday’s event:
- The Riders released R Bogdan Raic. The players not dressing for Friday’s game are DB Macho Harris, R Jock Sanders, G Chris Best and WR Dallas Baker. Not any surprises on that considering they have all been battling injuries during the main training camp.
- Darian Durant will start at QB and will likely play into the third quarter. Head coach Corey Chamblin said the Drew Willy will be up next. Willy earned the promotion through his play against the B.C. Lions and in camp. It’s not known how much time J.T. O’Sullivan and Levi Brown will get.
- I think there is a lot of pressure on Durant after last week’s showing in B.C. and what took place in 2011. Chamblin wants to see Durant get his grove back. Durant needs to return to his former form, but he can’t play like Henry Burris did on Wednesday night for the Tiger-Cats. Durant should be aggressive, but mindful that it’s a pre-season game.
- Fans will get their first chance tosee DEs Brent Hawkins and Odell Willis on the field in live action on Friday. The defensive ends both have huge personalities and have livened up training camp. They have also put pressure on the Riders quarterbacks, but have to pull back because there isn’t any contacting the QB. Chamblin is looking forward to what they do against Calgary’s quarterbacks.
- Chamblin told us that Shomari Williams is the starting middle linebacker and it appears he’s wrapped up that spot. Mike McCullough remains in the mix due his versatility and experience.
- The pre-season game isn’t on TV, so you will have to tune into CKRM if you’re not at the stadium. Hopson said it was TSN’s decision, and not the Riders, based on their scheduling and the availability of its crews.
- Chamblin said he’ll be watching how his coaches coach and making sure they are doing all of the right things. He wants to see how good the players are on the field after watching them in practice.
- C Dominic Picard, who injured his back earlier this week, expects to play on Friday. Rookie Ben Heenan is expected to start at right guard while Best nurses a foot injury.
- That’s it for now. We have the full Leader-Post press on for the pre-season game. So check back online later and for lots of reading in the paper on Friday morning.