With two major injuries to the Roughriders offensive line, first overall pick Josiah St. John is preparing to step in to fill the void.
Roughriders’ centre Dan Clark was injured against Edmonton and is expected to miss significant time, while right guard Dariusz Bladek suffered a gruesome-looking injury against the Bombers that has ended his season.
The injuries mean that Brendon LaBatte – the Roughriders usual left guard – has moved to centre, newcomer Philip Blake comes in at left guard and St. John will play in Bladek’s spot.
“I feel like I’ve developed pretty good,” said St. John of his past two-and-a-half seasons with the green and white. “I’m understanding the game a lot more than I did when I first got here and that’s the key thing.”
That understanding has come with the help and guidance of other members of the offensive line. St. John credits right tackle Thaddeus Colemnan as well as LaBatte and Clark for helping him get ready for this moment which very well could be the first time he sees significant time as a starter.
He’s ready to prove he can do it.
“I’m going to show the league I’m going to be fine,” St. John said. “If you ask anyone in the locker room ‘is Josiah ready to play this game?’ They’ll say he is.”
Which Thaddeus Coleman confirmed.
“He’s gone through a lot of things, a lot of injuries and stuff like that but he’s coming along. He’s a strong-minded kid, a lot of guys (would) have broke but he’s very strong-minded and he’s smart … he picks up on things,” Coleman said.
The game against Winnipeg went a long way to show that. St. John was called into action suddenly after Bladek’s injury. He was worried about his friend but had to calm himself down and refocus in order to play.
“That was the hardest circumstances I feel like I would have to go into, but I felt like I did solid,” he said.
And head coach Chris Jones agreed.
“You didn’t call his name negatively. You didn’t see his guy running by him and making plays and I think that’s the mark of an offensive lineman and a (defensive back), that’s how you know if they’re playing good or bad is when you notice them negatively,” the head coach said.
St. John will get another opportunity to show his coaches and teammates what he’s made of on Saturday. Head coach Chris Jones has confirmed he will play right guard against Calgary.
Game time is at 5 p.m.