It didn’t take long for defensive back A.J. Jefferson to find a landing spot after being released by the Redblacks last week.
Jefferson was in the midst of his third season in the league when he was dropped by Ottawa on July 10. In a tweet after his release, he said he was told they wanted someone younger to play his position.
Jefferson is 29.
“You’re only as old as you feel,” Jefferson said when asked about it. “I feel 24, I feel young and I can still run, so it’ll be exciting to put it back on film.”
Thirty-eight-year-old Rider quarterback Kevin Glenn said different teams like different things in their defensive backs, but to him, 29 is a great age.
“I think that’s when guys get right into their prime … where they’ve been playing for a while, where they can understand the game, where they don’t necessarily need 100% physical attributes to be successful. That’s when your mind starts to play for you,” Glenn said before adding “you can read routes instead of being the fastest guy on the field.”
“(The release was a) big surprise to me and also to some other guys I talked to on the team, but it’s a business and they got to make adjustments,” Jefferson reasoned.
And the fact that he said he had several teams courting him shows that other clubs feel like he still has something to offer.
Jefferson also said he received a lot of support after his release was announced including from some current and former teammates, like former Redblacks quarterback Henry Burris.
“It means a lot to me, especially when veteran guys who have been in the league for a long time notice the kind of athlete that I am and what I’ve done in the league,” Jefferson said.
Before signing with Ottawa in February, he spent two seasons in Toronto. In 30 games with the Argos, he collected 91 defensive tackles, five special teams tackles, six interceptions and one touchdown.
“Now we got a player here that I think can help you guys out.”
Riders head coach Chris Jones thinks he can help too.
Jefferson practiced with the returners for much of practice on Tuesday and Jones highlighted his numbers after practice.
“Two years ago he averaged 12.5 a return,” Jones said. “And then he’s a guy that play multiple positions in the secondary, he’s got good size.”
“We wanted to bring him out and see what he’s like.”
Jefferson is currently on the Roughriders practice roster. There’s no word yet on if he’ll play on Saturday against the Stampeders.