Chris Jones didn’t get a warm welcome in his return to Edmonton.
“People act ugly and call you names and stuff as you walk on the field, unfortunately, but that’s part of it. It’s pro football,” admitted Jones after his team lost 25-11 to the Edmonton Eskimos.
The Riders head coach was making his first trip to Edmonton since he left the team following their Grey Cup Championship to take on the vice-president/general manager and head coach job in Saskatchewan.
A former Rider, whom Chris Jones let leave in the off-season, was the first to find pay dirt.
Chris Getzlaf scored the opening touchdown on the fourth play of the game, two plays after Derel Walker sprung free for a 59-yard reception.
“(Edmonton) played extremely fast,” said Jones after the game.
“I thought they were very physical. I thought they were the more physical team and that’s very concerning to me.”
While Jones prides himself on defences built to rattle the opponent, it was his that was often playing catch up. With the game still in reach for Saskatchewan, running back Joe McKnight busted open for a 85-yard touchdown run and a 19-8 lead.
“You’re not going to panic over a preseason ball game that you played 75 people.” – Chris Jones
The Riders finish the preseason with an 0-2 record, but it’s not a concern for Jones.
“You’re not going to panic over a preseason ball game that you played 75 people.”
Those 75 people will quickly drop to 46 as the Riders are now under the gun to make their final cuts before the CFL deadline of 9:59 a.m. Sunday morning.
That means it’ll be a long night for Jones and company to make their final decisions.
“We got to do a tonne of evaluation. We’re going to be on the airplane, we’ll be meeting tonight and watching film. There are some very critical hard decisions to make.
The preseason loss was also the first time quarterback Darian Durant has seen the field since his ruptured Achilles from the regular season opener in 2015.
Durant threw two interceptions and wasn’t dodging any blame afterward.
“It’s all me. It had nothing to do with the scheme. My eyes were in the right places, it’s about executing and making the right throw and doing it under duress and doing it at game speed.”
Durant was happy to break off some of the rust that definitely built up over the last year, rehabbing his Achilles.
He also hopes it quiets any fears about re-injury.
“Hopefully it can put to rest all the worries. I feel good and I’m glad I got a chance to get out there and take some hits and run around a little bit.”
Overall, Durant completed 11 of 19 passes for 153 yards and threw two interceptions.
GREEN ZONE PLAY OF THE GAME
Joe McKnight put the dagger into the Roughriders hopes with an 85-yard touchdown run after the Riders Phillip Sims threw the Riders third interception of the game
GREEN ZONE GAME WARRIORS
Roughriders Offensive Game Warrior = Naaman Roosevelt who hauled in a couple of hard catches and overall had four catches for 63-yards, including a team long 35-yard reception (Honourable mention to rookie receiver Ricky Collins (4 catches for 78 yards)
Roughriders Defensive Game Warrior = Kevin Francis. The Riders rookie safety and converted receiver had a knockdown and an interception as he tries to earn the starting safety job.
Eskimos Offensive Game Warrior = Joe McKnight. The running back had over 100-yards rushing including the aforementioned 85-yard TD run.
Eskimos Defensive Game Warrior = Cord Parks. The former B.C. Lions had an interception and a few tackles for the Eskimos.
GREEN ZONE UNSUNG HEROES
Roughriders Unsung Hero = Greg Jones. The Riders linebacker quietly had eight tackles as he looks to be the solid force in the middle of the team’s defence.
Eskimos Unsung Hero = Chris Getzlaf. The former Rider was motivated to show was Saskatchewan was missing and hauled in three passes, including the games first touchdown.