The race to be the Roughriders running back is heating up.
The club announced Wednesday that running back Tre Mason had inked a deal joining Jerome Messam, Zac Stacy, Marcus Thigpen and Bryce Vieira in the offensive backfield.
Mason is a former St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams tailback that head coach Chris Jones has been tracking him for some time.
“We’ve been talking for a while and we just kind of reached out to him and it was something that he decided he wanted to do,” said Jones after practice on Wednesday.
Mason led the Rams with 765 rushing yards in his rookie season and also added four touchdowns. Mason also had an incredible college career that included an appearance at the Southeast (SEC) Championship where he ran over the competition rushing for a record-setting 304 yards, added four touchdowns (another record) and was named the game’s most valuable player. During the 2013 regular season he also led the conference in rushing with 1,816 yards.
That’s probably why when Jones was asked why he wanted to bring Mason in he quipped back with a chuckle “Have you watched his film?”
As for Mason, he was just looking for another opportunity.
“Couple people told me that this organization was interested and I was interested in an opportunity to get back on the field and get the ball in my hands and make things happen,” he said after his first practice in the green and white.
In 2016, Mason was put on the Rams reserve/did not report list. The running back had not been in contact with the team or any of his teammates since the end of the season. He was released in March of 2017.
ESPN reported Mason was involved with a series of troubling events in the 2016 offseason. One of which lead to him being charged with a felony (third degree) charge of fleeing and eluding without regard for others’ safety or property.
Jones said spoke with people who knew Mason – including current Roughrider defensive back/quarterback Nick Marshall – and former Rider linebackers coach Phillip Lolley before signing him.
Jones said Lolley told him Mason was a guy of “high character.”
Mason said he felt his first day went well and hopes he’ll be able to take advantage of the wider field that the Canadian game affords him.
“You get more field you can do more things with the ball, I like to use the whole field to make plays.”
And as for if he’s behind the eight-ball having been off for more than a year? Mason said absolutely not.
“I worked hard while I was away. I don’t think I took a day off.”
- The Roughriders were down some Canadian talent at practice Wednesday including Cameron Judge and Dariusz Bladek. On the other hand, Josiah St. John appeared at practice for the first time but was not in pads.
- Jones did not disclose the injury to Dariusz Bladek, but it meant that defensive lineman Eddie Steele took reps on the offensive line. Jones said you could also see defensive lineman Zack Evans on the offensive line in a pinch.
- Rob Bagg had one of the best snags of the day: a double coverage catch for a touchdown. Nick Marshall earned an interception off Brandon Bridge, while Chad Owens also had a strong day catching a ball from Zach Collaros that was nearly tipped by Derrick Moncrief.