It’s a new day for the Riders running backs following the trade of Jerome Messam.
Last week, the Riders sent the Canadian tailback to the Calgary Stampeders just before the CFL trade deadline. Before the deal, Messam was a leading candidate to the Riders nominee for most outstanding player.
Now, with Messam no longer a part of the plan in Saskatchewan, the team’s other running backs have a chance to make an impression over the last three weeks of the regular season.
“It’s very important for me. I haven’t had the type of year I envisioned myself having at the beginning of the year,” said Anthony Allen.
“Just to show those people that have been watching, that have been supporting me through this time that I am still here. I’m still going to play 100 per cent.”
Allen’s season started off well. Through the first few weeks, both he and Messam were on pace to rush for 1,000 yards. Since then, Allen has been in and out of the lineup and when he is on the field with the offence, his carries have dropped dramatically.
Over the course of the next three weeks, Allen, a pending free-agent, hopes he can make an impression to be back with the team at training camp next season or garner some interest elsewhere in the league.
“Regardless if we had three games or not, I had to come out and play every game just trying to put that good film out there,” he said.
“I’m just looking to ball out. Have some fun. Play some football and win some games.”
Allen isn’t the only running back who will get a chance the rest of the season. Chad Spann, who’s been on the practice roster the last few weeks, is also expected to get some carries down the stretch.
“Just going to go out here and give my best effort. Try to help this team get better and end this season on a positive note,” said Spann.
Spann admits seeing Messam traded away is a bittersweet moment for him. The Indiana native learned a lot from Messam during his short time with the Riders so far. Messam helped Spann not only learn the team’s offence, but also helped him adjust to life in a new country.
“He’s a great friend. It’s bittersweet but now I get the opportunity to play and I’m excited for it,” he said.
Spann should bring a different dimension to the Riders’ running back. He’s smaller than both Messam and Allen but is still listed at 212 pounds.
Spann feels he can bring a little more speed and explosiveness to the offence. Allen compares Spann to another running back that broke out this season in the CFL.
“He reminds me of Jeremiah Johnson in Ottawa. He’s a small guy but he’s thick. He runs the ball hard but he’s also quick,” said Allen.
“I can’t wait to go out there and see him run.”
The Riders also added another running back on Wednesday signing Stephen Houston the practice roster.
Defensive back Keith Lewis, who was picked up in the Messam trade with Calgary, has been released to pursue an NFL opportunity.