Top 10 Things To Watch For At Rider Training Camp!

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are set to open training camp at Griffiths Stadium this weekend.

This season is going to be a very interesting one as I think the Green and White are coming into the season with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. Let’s face it, prior to Darian Durant’s injury in the Banjo Bowl the Green and White were 8-and-2. They of course would finish the season 9-and-9 before bowing out to Edmonton in the West Semi-final.

As the Green and White prepare for the 2015 season here are my top ten things to watch in no particular order.

10 – Darian’s elbow. Despite all reports indicating that his surgically repaired elbow is 100% Rider nation wants to see for themselves if Darian is ready to return from his injury and lead the new Jacques Chapdelaine offence.

9 – Staying with the offence and will they buy into Chapdelaine’s scheme? The Rider offence for the most part is a veteran group and if they buy-in the sky may be the limit. Especially considering that they finished 2014 with the league’s worst passing/game offence. A number that will improve with Darian at the helm.

8 – Protecting the Quarterback! What once was the undisputed strength of the team, the Riders lost Ben Heenan and Dominic Picard in the off-season. All-star caliber players not to mention Canadian starters. Who will step up to fill their shoes?

7 – Ratio breakers. With the loss of those two starters as well as Ricky Foley and Sam Hurl the Riders are in need of National starters. Will Jerome Messam make a statement in the backfield, can Nick Demski go from first round pick to offensive starter?

6 – Giving it the boot. 2014 was a season to forget for Chris Milo. He struggled with consistency kicking field goals and his kick-offs were among the shortest in the league. Milo needs to rebound or face being replaced.

5 – Getting the boot part 2. Also of concern is the Riders punting game as Josh Bartel will not be with the team at training camp. Can Milo handle both? Is there a suitable replacement in camp?

4 – The secondary. I really have liked what I have seen from the Rider secondary that last few seasons in terms of development. However, new rules this season have hamstrung defenses across the league. How will the Riders adapt?

3 – Former U Of S Huskie Keenan MacDougall. The Saskatoon native was signed from Calgary by the Riders in the off-season. In Cowtown he was primarily used on special teams, however, the Riders feel that he can play on defense. Can he? If he can that could be the ratio breaker that the Riders are looking for.

2 – Hanging on! Getting back to the offence and the Riders need their receiving corp to take a big step forward. A healthy Taj Smith, and Chris Getzlaf and a full season with Weston Dressler will see instant returns. However, there still is room for another slot. Who will step up and take the spot?

1 – Special teams. The Riders special teams were decimated last year by injury. With Scott McHenry returning this season that will help but the retirement of Neal Hughes hurts. The cover teams have to be better than they were in 2014 and with various special teams vets being brought in the Riders know the urgency in improving the third phase.