General manager and head coach Chris Jones and quarterback Kevin Glenn previewed the Roughriders’ 2017 season in a media conference call on May 17, 2017.
The CFL and the Saskatchewan Roughriders held a season preview Wednesday morning just 10 days ahead of training camp in Saskatoon.
While none of the information presented was groundbreaking, there were a few tidbits worth noting:
1. Brendon LaBatte is healthy and ready for training camp
The Roughriders offensive line struggled with injuries all through the season and perhaps no absence was as notable as Brendon LaBatte. The all-star guard hasn’t played for the Riders since an injury in July initially diagnosed as a concussion. Upon further inspection, the injury turned out to be a bruised nerve in his neck. Head coach Chris Jones confirmed today LaBatte has recovered and will be at training camp in Saskatoon, something that helps solidify the offensive line.
“Anytime you can have an all-star guard you know you got a better shot at keeping your quarterback healthy and upright so it lets you get a little bit extra sleep at night,” Jones said.
There are a few questions about the Roughriders offensive line, like who will play right guard and if they have enough depth to cover any possible injuries. But with the addition of Derek Dennis at free agency, Jones feels more confident.
“We’re at least decently solid there at both tackle positions,” he said.
2. Draft picks are getting closer to signing
The Riders drafted nine new players in the CFL Draft on May 7 and Jones said that things are moving along with contract negotiations.
“We’ve had a couple of draft picks that have agreed to terms but nobody’s really officially signed … yet,” Jones said.
Jones declined to comment on second overall pick Cameron Judge, who attended a rookie camp with the Houston Texans. However, Justin Dunk of 3 Down Nation reported he was not offered a contract with the Texans and he expected negotiations with the Riders to begin soon.
3. Training camp will be a battle for the team’s receivers
The Roughriders currently have 16 receivers on their roster, 17 if you include yet-to-be-signed Mitchell Picton – which is probably about ten more than they need on their active roster week-to-week. The Riders got a lot of production out of young receivers like Caleb Holley, Ricky Collins Jr. and Armanti Edwards, but the offseason saw Chad Owens and Bakari Grant added to the roster.
Jones said it all came down to wanting the experience that veterans bring.
“Last year, with all the injuries that we had, we felt like we had ample leadership but from time to time, because of all the injuries, a lot of those guys weren’t there,” he said.
Later in the conference call, he added that it was going to be exciting to see which receivers come out on top at training camp.
Training camp is slated to start for the Roughriders on May 28 at Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon.